Singapore, like many other modern cities, has a strong coffee culture. The ubiquitous Starbucks, the specialty cafés lining the Singapore River, the twenty different ways you can order a traditional kopi – these are all testament to Singaporeans’ love for the brew (or the caffeine kick). Tea, on the other hand, is often seen as old-fashioned and dull. Luckily for tea lovers like myself, the tea movement is starting to gain ground in Singapore thanks to the opening of specialty tea stores like TWG – and now Teyvika, a modern tearoom in historic Chinatown, is transforming the art of tea appreciation.
The two founders of Teyvika, Ho Yuchang and James Wong, are extremely passionate and extremely serious artisans. For starters, the tea at Teyvika isn’t brewed in pots. Nope, these men went all out and created a machine that brews your tea based on traditional Chinese tea ceremony techniques. Each mug of tea in Teyvika is steeped for an exact length of time, in water of the correct temperature for that type of tea – and this precision brewing stems from hours of research, experimentation and tasting.
The result? Surprisingly flavorful brews that awaken your palate. As I silently chuckled at some incredulous faces (probably hearing the words “we don’t serve coffee” for the very first time in their lives), I had a mug of Darjeeling more complex than any I’ve ever tried. The tea was light but warm, gliding through my mouth and leaving it with a playful muscatel finish. It went perfectly with Teyvika’s delicious signature carrot cake.
While there are no main courses, Teyvika offers some scrumptious bites – whole wheat sandwiches, muffins, and brownies – to accompany their collection of fine teas.
The Right Vibe
Teyvika clearly knows that excellent brews alone aren’t enough to promote the enjoyment of this heavenly drink, because it has developed for itself a vibrant brand image to defy the notion that tea is traditional and boring. Every detail, from the quirky descriptions of each tea to the music in the tearoom, has been thought through. It’s a place where you could sit and relax all day. And some nights, you might step in to find a live gig or stand-up comedy event going on.
A Word on Taste
Some connoisseurs might argue that tea, like coffee and wine, is a matter of personal preference and that this level of control over the tea’s brewing defeats the purpose of tea appreciation. However, I think it’s exactly what’s needed to make a quality cup of tea accessible to all. In fact, Yuchang and James have already developed blends like the Teyquiri (the tea equivalent of the Frappuccino) to appeal to a wider audience. I’m sure more than a few customers will develop a real interest in tea appreciation.
And so, despite a selfish desire for it to stay artisan, I hope Teyvika may one day become the Starbucks of tea.
Teyvika is currently on a Happiness Retreat while they look for a new place to serve up tea and happiness.