Which absolutely tea-lightful local tea brands do we rate?
An upmarket tea brand with a focus on quality and authenticity, BASAO emphasises “holistic ecology” in its pursuit of tea perfection. BASAO understands that the tea industry has a problem with mistreating its workers, and the brand consequently puts a lot of effort into decommoditsing the people who create its products – by aiming to provide the suppliers more than they supply BASAO in return. This mutual support with suppliers promotes healthy trade, and the quality of the tea that comes as a result is noticeable. Made by tea lovers for tea lovers, BASAO’s warm tea isn’t the only thing that gets us hot under the collar (it’s their empathy, compassion and authenticity).
Fook Ming Tong, founded in 1987, has a view to expanding the Chinese tea-drinking tradition to the global marketplace. During harvesting season, Fook Ming Tong sends professional teams led by tea masters to ensure that it only sources the most premium leaves (which sounds like an ideal career path, if anyone has any contacts for me). FMT also prefers to maintain traditional techniques to process its Tie Guan Yin (Chinese oolong tea) and offers courses to staff so that the whole team understand the subtlety and complexity behind the products. Its success can be attributed to the quality, variety and focus on pure blends (without much interest in the inclusion of fruits and the like).
“Hey” not only acts as a greeting to all tea lovers, but it also means “love” in Cantonese, which makes it all the more apt for a company with a focus on its customers’ well-being. Hey Tea has realised the dangers of pesticides and chemical fertilisers and that their use in tea production could have adverse health effects on tea drinkers. The company visits organic farms all over the world to ensure that it sources from people who refuse such detrimental practices and only uses completely pure products in its teabags. After international sourcing, Hey Tea blends its teas based on traditional Chinese formulas in order to ensure maximum functionality for their respective health benefits. Get healthy, get happy and feel the “hey”.
Photo credit: Man Cha Teas
Man Cha Teas’ focus is on providing the finest-quality Chinese teas to the Hong Kong market. The founding couple understand that despite modernisation, tea is an essential part of Chinese culture and, as such, should be maintained, despite its prevalence in youth culture diminishing. This, in addition to its health benefits, makes tea an absolute necessity in daily life (which I can personally vouch for). As the founding couple are former teachers, for every box of Man Cha bought, they contribute to educating children in the form of either resources or training – help yourself and help others with Man Cha Teas.
MingCha has a strong emphasis on tradition and is supplied by a number of small farms throughout China. Its view is that smaller farms are more passionate about their products and the true skill of their craft, having not succumbed to mass-consumer pressure for faster production. With a large variety of Chinese teas under the brand, MingCha also offers tasting and pairing workshops at its Taikoo tea house to show consumers the diversity of its products. For MingCha, drinking tea is a daily occurrence and an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. If the concepts of small-farm sourcing and traditional processing make you weak at the knees for tea – and you admire a cup that distinguishes itself for its quality and small-town upbringing – give MingCha a look.
Photo credit: Moonlight Tea
Boutique company Moonlight Tea is a specialist in high-quality, artisanal teas. It began as a joint venture between founder Alky Ma (a certified sommelier) and F&B consultancy Twins Kitchen and has a somewhat different approach to what we’ve seen before. With an understanding that we live in an age of convenience and that tea culture is being swept by the wayside owing to people’s busy lifestyles, Moonlight has placed its focus on making bottled cold-brew teas. This allows us as consumers to enjoy its high-quality, ethical and healthy teas with the convenience of any other on-the-go beverage. Rather than ignoring or forgetting Chinese culture or refusing to adapt to the modern times, Moonlight Tea saw a way to bridge tradition and consumer convenience. Moonlight’s loose-leaf teas are growing too, and you can find its Darjeeling and Yame Sencha online. What’s cooler than cool? Ice-cold Moonlight Tea (word to OutKast).
Named after Audrey Hepburn and with a focus on the elegance of vintage British tea culture comes the ever-so-anachronistic Ms Audrey on Gough Street in Central. With an eye for all things old school, Audrey Vintage sells antiques along with its tea offerings, and the bouquets of dried flowers lining the shop and for sale give a sweet scent to all who have the fortune of entering this time-locked spot. If you want to be whisked away to a bygone era and have your senses treated to the smell of flowers and slurps of herbal flowering tea, this is definitely the place to be.
Photo credit: Peerie Tea
Peerie Tea started from the desire to ensure that consumers get a pure cup of tea, considering how many brands nowadays put dye and other nasty additives into their brews. Peerie has decided to be a brand that you can trust for its purity – “happy tea comes from a happy place” – which means ethical and sustainable sourcing. The leaves are all picked by local growers and blended by hand, further minimising the carbon footprint relative to other brands. Forgoing additives, Peerie ensures a flavourful cup through the inclusion of fruits, spices and various flowers, so the teas are by no means restricted or boring, and we can substantiate that the blends are immaculate. With Peerie Tea making us so high on life, the only pot you should be considering is the one with which to brew these tea-licious treats.
Photo credit: PLANTATION by teakha
Sheung Wan tea café teakha arose out of founder Nana Chan’s desire to bring people together. From her upbringing during which afternoon tea was a family staple, she developed a connection to tea for its socialising capabilities and decided to open teakha to give other people (who unfortunately did not have a tea-based upbringing) a sense of this. The tea room also serves delightful cakes, as would be expected at a place founded on the premise of afternoon tea – all the more reason to visit this conscientious café. Sporting favourite teas from all over the world sourced by its sister brand, PLANTATION by teakha, and with a focus on providing only single-origin brews to make certain that your cup resembles a specific time and place, teakha is a tea lover’s haven.
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