Pekoe & Imp, a pop-up “cafe,” is Hongyuan and Jaq’s homage to unblended teas. Hongyuan co-owns Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar and cannot survive without her Oolongs and Darjeelings. Jaq, a former public servant (and my friend), has recently immersed herself the world of tea. She loves experimenting with vessels and learning how each one brings out a brew’s many layers.
I asked these two experts to share with you their picks for the best cuppas found around town! Over to Hongyuan and Jaq.
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On days when we want to sit down to a dependable cup of tea brewed by someone else, we head out to spots that pay attention to the temperature of the water, steeping time, and quality of tea leaves.
We like Café Pal’s Oriental Beauty, a lightly roasted oolong from Hsinchu County in Taiwan ($12/pot). We love the romantic story of how this tea was discovered and how its unique taste is gleaned from being bitten by cicadas. (They don’t sell tea leaves so you must sit down and have a cup.)
At Penny University, your tea arrives in a strainer pot and the friendly staff will recommend that it should be steeped for no more than 90 seconds. The Nilgiri Frost, a red tea from Nigilri Hills in Tamil Nadu ($6/pot), is lovely.
It’s worth your time to trek out to Revolution Coffee on Portsdown Road. Your pot of tea is steeped for a pre-determined amount of time and poured out (and automatically refilled). We like their Darjeeling White, a white tea from Darjeeling in West Bengal ($8/pot).
Smitten Café offers quite a wide range of teas from cold brews, oriental single origins, and Indian estates. Non-caffeinated floral infusions are also on the menu. We love their Guangdong oolong, a lightly roasted oolong from Guangdong province in China ($11/pot), Japanese gyokuro, and hōjicha, a roasted green tea (both $10/pot).
Necessary Provisions carries a good range of teas over five categories. One batch of tea leaves may be refilled up to three times! If you fancy a lighter tea that still packs a punch, order the Darjeeling White First Flush from Gopaldhara Estate ($11/pot), a gorgeous floral and fruity brew from Darjeeling in West Bengal. Their Junshan Yinzhen, an unusual yellow tea from Junshan Island in Hunan Province ($6/pot), is a bittersweet light tea.
Yahava KoffeeWorks is a great specialty coffee bar that doesn’t neglect tea. It carries a good range of teas from English Breakfast to chai, from Darjeeling to Gunpowder Green. We like its White Peony, a tea from Fuding in Fujian Province ($5/cup). Best of all, we can control the steeping time on our own with Yahava’s cleverly designed all-in-one pot/strainer/cup.
It’s all about coffee at Chye Seng Huat Hardware, but there’re choices for tea lovers. Ask for the varieties of teas that they have available, as the menu doesn’t list them all. Served in a timed steep, their lightly roasted oolong was pleasing, both to taste and in its presentation.
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Pekoe & Imp’s next workshop, The Colours of Teas, will be on October 19 and 20 from 1-3PM at Cafe Pal (43 Middle Road). To learn more and to reserve your spot, connect with Pekoe & Imp on Facebook and follow on Twitter.