I am an occasional tea drinker, but only because I’m trying to balance out the coffee dependence. I find coffee is great when you need a boost of energy, whereas tea is more calming for me. I am a complete newbie when it comes to tea, so I was really interested to learn more about teas at the Monsoon Tea tea tasting.
Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage AFTER WATER?! I had no idea that tea was so popular. Being a popular drink, tea is of course a large business. You know those typical photos you see of tea plantations? Well those tea agriculture plants are domesticated, meaning they do not occur naturally in the wild, kind of like how the rice we eat is a cultivated strain too, rather than wild rice, some of which are developed in laboratories. My human geography teacher from over 20 years ago would be proud of me!! And what is a side-effect of any agriculture… ? Yes, deforestation! It’s like a storm in a teacup just waiting to happen! We should be revolting like having a Boston Tea Party!
One of the founders of Monsoon Teas, Kenneth, took us on a very interesting journey through the history of tea in the world and in Thailand.
Monsoon Tea specializes in exceptional wild and free-grown teas from the hills of northern Thailand. All of our teas come from the original undomesticated camellia sinensis assamica plant indigenous to the Thai highlands. It is an extremely rare tea used in less than one per cent of tea cultivation worldwide.
In places like the rural areas of Chiang Mai, there are tea trees which grow in the wild and naturally in forests. These are trees and not plants – they are same same but different. Naturally occurring means that they are part of the ecosystem. So there is no deforestation, and no pesticides or insecticides used because they have been co-existing in the forest for years. Monsoon Teas work with local farmers to supply the teas, and that gives the farmers more incentive to prevent deforestation, and to protect the forests. In fact, owner of Monsoon Teas, Kenneth, said that even the new generation of tea farmers in China are beginning to realise that sustainable tea growing is the way to move forward. Because they probably know that tea and sympathy aren’t going to help climate change.
If you’re still confused, well, I’m not so good at explaining it all, sit down for a cup of tea and you can read more about the teas on the Monsoon Tea website here. It’s short and sweet and easier to understand than my rambling.
At the tasting we tried a few teas, some iced and some hot, and in particular my favourite was the Jungle Oolong. Although light, with each sip the tea was just bursting with flavour, it was so rounded and complex and really inspiring. Kenneth shared that this tea is made from leaves that grow in a very remote area – in fact they are grown 2hours away from the nearest road.
This tea is a wild tea not planted by people and grows far inside the forest near the Myanmar border in North of Thailand. The taste is very different from other teas, the bitterness is very low and its very fruity. – Source: Monsoon Teas
Of course this premium tea does not come cheap, but in comparison to other brands, it is not more expensive (some teas from TWG go for over S$100), and it is responsibly and sustainably grown.
We were treated to a few beautiful Pernakan desserts from The Peranakan Restaurant, and I was pleasantly surprised how the the teas paired so well and how the tastes change when paired with tea. Either that or I was just blown away by the Jungle Oolong.
Monsoon Teas is distributed in Singapore by Tea Bunnies, run by a friendly couple Shii Hua and Pete, who used to work in an NGO in Chiang Mai, so you can be assured that they have their hearts in helping the local farmers of Chiang Mai while giving us all the opportunity to enjoy their wonderful teas. Read more about them on a blog post interview here.
Fancy a cup of ice tea because the weather has been so freakishly hot, or just a cup of tea in general, while doing good and making sure you aren’t contributing to global warming? Why yes, that’s just my cup of tea, thank you 😀