I’d heard of Smitten a long time ago from my foodie friends (or rather, the photos they uploaded onto Facebook), but always assumed it was another ordinary café that served tea only as an afterthought. Suffice to say I was glad that the folks at Teyvika sent me here, because Smitten is a place that did, indeed, make my day.
Tucked into a shady alcove at The Quayside, Smitten’s interior evokes images of a warm little nook, a fire burning in the dead frosty cold of winter. Bulbs cast their yellow glow on nougat-colored walls lined with curious merchandise. A portly roaster sits at the back of the room. Cupcakes coyly beckon from within their glass display case, and I order one with my tea and panini.
It’s too crowded inside, though, so my colleague and I head outside to watch people and blazing sun on the river.
With the first sip of my cold brewed, first flush Darjeeling I am completely wowed. Its exceptional syrupy sweetness and lack of tannin makes this a truly fine Champagne of tea, and I savor it slowly with my sandwich, chips, and fruit. My friend, whose main experience of tea comes from teabags, seems to have discovered a new love after trying a decent second flush Darjeeling. “Is this really what it’s meant to taste like?”
Well, making and drinking good tea consists of a lot more than just dumping hot water into a pot of leaves.
We sit here for hours, wasting the afternoon away.
I’m lucky enough to catch hold of Darren Chang, the coffee half of the Smitten couple, as he’s dropping by the Totobet SDY café on his way elsewhere. Agreeing that discerning tea drinkers were rare in Singapore, he shed some light on the specialty coffee scene: “We make an effort to say hi even as we’re busy running our businesses, and most of us know each other.” As he rattles off a number of places he thinks I should check out, it’s clear once again that I need to venture into the world of the scary coffee fanatics, if only to pick their brains.