August 2023 Tea Subscription


Thank you for coming onboard and travelling and savouring our world with us.

We aim to bring tea drinkers into the world of very fine and exclusive teas. These teas used to be inaccessible to commoners in time gone by, but today we are able to bring it to you via our network of sourcing direct from the farms and our friendship with the producers.

The three teas on feature are a green tea, white tea and wulong tea, namely:

- 2023 Yunnan Da Bai Hao (云南大白毫), 6g
- 2023 Yong Chun Buddha's Palm Red Tea (永春佛手红茶), 6g
- 2023 First Flush Ringtong SFTGFOP 1 RFA, 6g

Yunnan Da Bai Hao is produced in Jing Gu township (景谷) of Pu’er City, south of Yunnan. It is known as ‘Home of Tea’ and forms part of the Ancient Tea Horse Route. Jing Gu is to the immediate north of Si Mao, which is home of the oldest tea tree known to the world at Bang Wei Village, the discovery of which settled the century old debate between China and India regarding the origin of tea. Both Si Mao and Jing Gu are part of Heng Duan Mountain Range (横断山脉) which stretches from eastern Tibet to the Sichuan Basin, and carries with them rich but unknown cultures and history of tea making.

Yunnan Bai Hao is made in the south of Yunnan, mainly in Xishuangbana prefecture and in Pu’er area. Within these areas, there are in fact two styles - Moonlight White (月光白) and Da Bai Hao (大白毫, translated to Large White Downy). The former is a recent new creation, is shaped thin and curvy like the crescent moon. Our tea list features a Crescent Moon from north Vietnam (immediate south of Yunnan) that resembles this style. Its techniques is often shrouded in mystery, and is supposedly picked at night under moonlight, which explains its name. The Da Bai Hao is luscious and thick, and is picked and processed in daylight just like any other teas. The striking differences in their shape and size arise from the tea varieties from which they are made. Our tea today is from Jing Gu and is made using the Jing Gu Large White Tea variety (景谷大白茶), which often carries a yellow-greenish hue. Compared with the Fujian Silver Needle white tea (白毫银针) which was created in 1796, the Jing Gu white tea has a slightly shorter known history, being marketed outside the hills only about a century ago. Fujian Silver Needle is made using the assamica or slightly smaller varieties grown in the shrub form, while the Yunnan Da Bai Hao is made using assamica variety grown in the arbor form. The Fujian white tea is first sunned then air-dried indoors while Yunnan Da Bai Hao is totally air-dried indoors. Looking like velvet with a neat and smooth coat of fur, our Jing Gu white tea is picked 1 bud and 1 leaf, with buds in silver and the leaf in a dark tone.

We are brewing this tea in two ways - our Parchmen glass gaiwan and our Parchmen Zisha Tea Pot. There are material differences between these two wares. Glass is denser than ceramics and needs more energy to heat it up. While it is important to always preheat the teaware before brewing, glass will 'steal' more energy from the brewing water than ceramics. During the brewing, due to its density again, glass will conduct heat away from the brewing water faster than ceramics, causing a larger drop in brewing temperature. For a tea that requires a higher temperature and a longer time for complete flavour extraction, glass will not be a suitable material to consider. Conversely, the porous nature of the ceramics results in a comparatively lower thermal conductivity, allowing the zisha teapot to maintain its temperature for a longer time.

In the zisha teapot, we are brewing 3g to 80 ml of distilled water, at 95°C for 60 sec. Brew colour is light cinnamon. We got intense notes of berry, bubblegum and mango nectar from the brewed leaves, continuing well into the brew with intense sweetness and cooling to a 'bandung' note of rose and milk. The berry sweetness is a direct result of higher heat. In the glass gaiwan, we are brewing at the same ratio, at the same temperature but with a longer time of 75 sec. The berry notes were replaced with notes of eucalyptus. Generally, both brews are balanced without astringency or bitterness, and the tea can be brewed up to three times before thinning out.

Yong Chun county is located in Quan Zhou (泉州) where it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its importance in medieval maritime commerce, unique mix of religious buildings, and extensive archeological remains. With its name translating to Eternal Spring, the county sees year round temperature of 17 - 21°C, with slightly lower humidity and rainfall as compared to Singapore.

Yong Chun Buddha's Palm is a famous cultivar for making wulong tea. Its oft-quoted legend can be tra ed to the Song dynasty (960 - 1279) when a monk from a monastery in Anxi county grafted a tea branch onto the lemon-scented Buddha's Palm Gourd (佛手瓜), also known as Fingered Citron or English Gourd. He then taught the cultivation method to a monk in the neighbouring Yong Chun county where the tea subsequently took roots. Anxi county is famous for Tieguanyin wulong tea, which is a later tea from the 19th century as compared to this Yong Chun tea if the legend was true. There is another version coming from the leaves of the plant being as large as a palm and that this tea cultivar was first popularly cultivated in Buddhist monasteries, hence its name of Buddha's Palm. A unique cultivar which does not bear flowers or fruits, it reproduces asexually, and is very robust and adaptive to its environment. Resonating soundly with Buddhist philosophy, the saying ‘the singular flavour in tea as in Zen’ (茶禅一味) popular amongst the Chinese Buddhist and tea circles to highlight the synergy between tea and mind cultivation was first used on the Yong Chun Buddha's Palm tea.

Our tea today is the Yong Chun Buddha's Palm cultivar made into a red tea. When made into wulong tea, it features bergamot and citron aroma. In the red tea, the aromas are more toast, fresh raspberries, with a hint of cedar, malt and cheddar cheese. We are brewing this tea in Parchmen Glass Gaiwan, using 3g of tea to 120ml of 85°C distilled water for 45 seconds. Brew colour is rosewood red. There is almost an umami sensation but is in fact intense acidity against equally intense sweetness. The brewed leaves are perfumey with hints of red flowers and honey. At a lower brewing temperature, the sweetness, honey and floral notes will be much suppressed. This tea can be brewed meaningfully twice, with 60 secs on the second brew. Once the tea leaves are fully uncurled, astringency will follow.

In West Bengal in northeast India, the asphalt pathed Hill Cart Road, officially known as National Highway 110, meanders along the contours of the eastern spurs of the great Himalayas amidst natural reserves and tea gardens. Stretching north from the plains of Siligiri at the foothills right up to Darjeeling town at 2,000m, it passes by three towns, namely Kurseong at 1,500m (where Giddapahar, Goomtee, Jungpana, Margarat's Hope tea estates are located), then Sonada at 1,850m (where Ringtong Tea Estate is located), then Darjeeling at 2,045m which sits atop the hill settlements against the backdrop of the majestic Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. Parallel to this road on its west is the Rishi Road, which passes through the town of Mirik at 1,500m (where Okayti Tea Estate is located). After the small transit town of Mane Bhanjang, Rishi Road turns east and marries up with Hill Cart Road at the small neighbourhood of Ghoom just off the main town of Darjeeling. Historical tea gardens - 90 of them as counted in 2022 - scatter unevenly along these two roads since 170 years ago, circa 1852 when the first tea gardens were officially established. Earlier dates were cited for other tea gardens when they were smaller scale, e.g. Bara Ringtong in 1830s, and now has taken the world famous name of Margarat’s Hope located at Kurseong.

Little is known about the earlier years of Ringtong Tea Estate which was established in 1865. The coincidence in the names of Ringtong and the former name of Margarat’s Hope is also unknown. Today, Ringtong Tea Estate is certified Rainforest Alliance and has a strong following among the tea lovers and royal families of the world. The garden has the China variety of tea which were seeded from the earlier Chinese varieties smuggled out from China in 1849 and 1850 by Scottish Robert Fortune who managed to collect tea saplings from Zhejiang, Anhui and Fujian provinces by disguising his outlandish look and huge Scottish build in Qing dynasty attire complete with a pigtail. 

First flush teas of the highest grade usually come with a string of designations. SFTGFOP 1 means Super Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekeo Grade 1. It is harvested 1 bud 2 leaves.

We are brewing this Indian tea in our Parchmen Glass Gaiwan, at 3g to 120ml of 85°C water for 45 sec. Brew colour is golden yellow. The brewed leaves smell of stewed fruits, with floral notes piercing through when the leaves cools, accompanied by a hint of nutmeg and pepper. The brew is chewy and juicy, white and yellow florals - think jasmine, marigold -  forward on a soft buttery background, with black grapes occasionally revealing themselves. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth. As it cools, it becomes more sparkling, creamy and grapey. This tea can be brewed twice, with a perceived thinning of the brew the longer it is brewed.

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