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Darjeeling Nouveau 2013 from TWG

Darjeeling Nouveau 2013 from TWG

Spring on the Equator is a bit of a non-event, so when the Darjeelings arrive, it’s like spotting the first blossoms on bare trees.

TWG in Singapore has just received the new first flush 2013 harvest of Darjeeling teas, air-flown from India. There are 12 single estate teas plus this “Darjeeling Nouveau” blend to taste and compare. I hope to try them all…

Traditional folk music on the Perfume River

Hue  in central Vietnam is the country’s former imperial capital and now protected as a Unesco world heritage site for its citadel (think forbidden city and Last Emperor on a smaller scale) and impressive emperors’ tombs scattered around the outskirts of town.

It’s early July and Vietnamese tourists make up the bulk of visitors here. We joined them for a rather corny evening boat cruise on the Perfume River, with traditional folk songs and music.

Turning the tinkle of crockery into a musical instrument, tiny teacups are played like castanets at amazing speed, producing a chiming sound almost like bells!

My favourite part was when this musician had finished performing, she zipped her teacups away inside a furry pencil case shaped like Mickey Mouse, who would keep them safe and sonorous for the next batch of tourists!

Teacups as castanets in Hue, Vietnam

Geneva’s Laughing Teapot

It was a very quick trip to Geneva this March, but there was time for a power chat to catch up with Pilar, my fellow tea aficionado (ok, we are fanatics….) at La Théière qui Rit (The Laughing Teapot) in Geneva’s old town. You can hardly make it into the tearoom over all the enormous cakes! My tastebuds were laughing.

La Théière qui rit
15, rue de la Cité
1204 Genève
Closed on Sundays
http://www.noogo.com/theiere/menu.php

I stumbled upon this tearoom and patisserie in the most unlikely location at Penhas Road, near Lavender MRT, when two girls asked me to take their picture in front of the window full of cakes. Behind the enticing display lies a world full of pastries, macaroons, savoury dishes and all things high tea, served until 10pm. Some of the furnishings are slightly Louis XVI and Kirsten Dunst’s Marie Antoinette would certainly not feel out of place here.

The loose leaf teas are served in teapots in hand filled bag. The quality is average and many are flavoured, but the overall experience aspires towards afternoon tea at La Durée on the Champs Elysées, and is definitely worth the trip.

Antoinette has four addresses in Singapore: Penhas Rd, Mandarin Gallery and Palais Renaissance at Orchard, and the Scarlett Hotel in Chinatown.

30 Penhas Road
Singapore 208188
Tel 6293 3121
MRT: Lavender 
www.antoinette.com.sg
Ippodo order

My delivery from Ippodo Online Shop

After two weeks impatience, I just received my shipment from the Ippodo Online Shop. Straight from Kyoto:
1 2012 Uji Shincha freshly harvested
1 Tancho-no-mukashi (matcha) + 1 matcha sieve
1 Hosen (sencha)
1 Shoike-no-o (sencha)

Wish I could share the delicious, fresh grassy aroma of the 2012 sencha through cyberspace!

Whisper has nothing to do with tea but deserves a mention as it has everything to do with France…. This French-run wine bar occupies a beautiful stone bungalow on Essex Street, at the entrance to a private courtyard of stone buildings that could be in Bordeaux or Provence. Freshly baked baguettes, sandwich jambon fromage, cheese and charcuterie platters, and plenty of wines both French and local by the glass or bottle. The cheeses and other menu items are imported directly from France.

15 Essex Street
Tel 08 9335 7632
Open Wed to Sun 12pm to late
www.whisperwinebar.com.au

This gift shop is about tea, Alice in Wonderland style. The colourful store sells a myriad of teapots in every shape, colour and size, teacups, tea cosies, books, serving trays, cake stands…  Not everything is tea themed, liked the children’s clothing for example, but there is plenty to choose from, including a small selection of herbal and flavoured loose leaf teas, and literary teabags with quotations for every cuppa.

The Piazza, South Terrace
Fremantle, WA
Australia
Tel. +61 (0)8 9336 1216

(you’ll find it in a sort of open air shopping arcade off Cappuccino Strip, down some steps, after the Pickled Fairy shop (fairies seem to do a lot of shopping in Fremantle)!

More of a loft than an attic, relax with a pot of tea in squishy armchairs upstairs in this red brick building with high ceilings and Playschool windows. You have to take your afternoon tea early in Fremantle (the Attic closes at 4pm).

The Attic
16 Bannister Street 
Fremantle, WA

As well as hand made dim sum, Vivisen’s speciality is Goji tea, a blend of goji berries, chrystanthemum flowers, tea leaves and liquorice “helpful in rejuvenating the body, refreshing the mind and improving overall health and well being”.

The tea is sweet tasting and surprisingly dark, and apparently super healthy for the goji berries’ amino acids, trace minerals, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

http://www.vivisenteahouse.com/

Vivisen Teahouse
15 Point St,
Fremantle, Western Australia
+61 (0)8 9336 6699
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-3pm then 5pm-10pm
Closed Mondays and Public Holidays
 

One entire wall of this tea house is a blackboard inscribed with quotes from the wise, the famous, the anonymous and the downright funny. Here are a choice few to ponder on:

“The tea-party is a spa for the soul – you leave your cares and work behind. Busy people forget their business. Your stress melts away. Your  senses awaken.” – Unknown 

“Happiness is like a butterfly. Only when I sit down with my tea did the butterfly settle peacefully in my lap.” – Reny

“Women are like teabags. You never know their strength until you place them in hot water.”

“One drinks tea to forget the din of the world.” – Tien Yixeng

“Tea… is a religion of the art of life.” – Kakura 

There’s quite a large selection of teas (green, white, black, rooibos and tisanes, but only one oolong), served in a teapot with a digital timer to brew perfectly. Organic and gluten free breakfast options galore, which is a plus, because breakfast at my hotel costs AUS $26 with a teabag so honestly Maraschino is a better option all round.

Saved the best for last :

“Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on.” – Billy Connolly

Shop 8, 17-23 Collie St Map.ab96a8d
Fremantle, WA 6160
Australia
Tel. +61 (0)8 9336 7871
Closed on Tuesdays, and also at random times (like 4.30pm on a Saturday for no clear reason)
No wifi