If you’re visiting Singapore and want a Chinese Tea fix, Tea Chapter certainly fits the bill. This Chinese Teahouse is located just south of Chinatown and not only supplies a place to sit down and relax whilst enjoying a Chinese Tea Ceremony, but there is also a shop that sells tea and teaware. What’s more, there are classes and courses on Chinese Tea available.
Tea Chapter take the art of Chinese Tea very seriously and they aim to educate people from all walks of life in the art, culture, history and heritage of Chinese Tea Making, Ceremonies and Appreciation.
What Is A Chinese Teahouse?
The easiest way to describe a Chinese Teahouse is an eastern version of a cafe. Teahouses, obviously, serve a variety of teas, as well as a range of other refreshments. They are a place for people to meet, relax and just generally catch up with each other. Tea drinking in Teahouses is a social event with complex rituals and ceremonies.
Making Tea In A Teahouse
The art of tea making is very ritualised which focuses on unhurried preparation and at the end, you are given a very small cup of tea. Don’t go to a teahouse if you’re in need of a quick drink, you’ll only get frustrated.
To make the tea, first, the pot is stuffed with the appropriate leaves and water is boiled over a flame. The server waits for the water to reach the optimum temperature for the tea being served – experts can tell the temperature of the water by the size of the bubbles produced.
Next, the pot is warmed inside and out and the first pot is then made. The tea is poured into a serving jug, but then poured back over the pot, the theory being in time the pot will become infused with the fragrance of the tea. A second pot is then made and the tea is poured into a sniffing cup, where the aroma can be appreciated. After this, you can then drink your tea.
If you desire a second cup, the procedure starts again. This is a very basic explanation and is how I remember the process from when I went. If you want to know more I advise you to go to a teahouse to experience the ritual fully.
About Tea Chapter
The Tea Chapter Teahouse was set up by thirteen tea enthusiasts on 1st October 1989. Not long after Tea Chapter was established they had a visit from Queen Elizabeth II of England – a fact they like to shout about, with pictures in the teahouse and on the website. You can even sit in the same chair that the Queen sat in. There have been many more famous visitors since then.
Tea Chapter focuses on education and service. There are courses you can take on tea and all of their tea is served by trained and qualified staff. An experienced Grand Tea Master oversees the Teahouse, and also gives talks and workshops.
The Chinese name for Tea Chapter Teahouse comes from their mission statement and roughly translates as “Be Knowledgeable in Tea and Promoting the Culture of Tea”. The English name ‘Tea Chapter” is meant to mean that new chapters in tea culture are being opened.
Visiting Tea Chapter
There are three rooms in the three-story teahouse – the Korean Room, the Oriental Room and Japanese Seating. Each room is cosy with plenty of eastern charm, the perfect place to relax with some tea.
Whether you want a full course in Tea Making and Appreciation or just want to pop in for a ritualised (and definitely not quick) drink, a trip to Tea Chapter is well worth it. And don’t forget, there is also an on-site shop where you can purchase bags of tea and teaware. Below I will give a couple of examples of menu choices and courses available at time of writing, but these will be subject to availability and change.
Obviously, there is an extensive tea menu at the Tea Chapter. When I was there is was broken down into types of tea (I thought there was only Black, Green and Herbal, how wrong was I…) All have descriptions of aroma and colour in the menu. The prices vary greatly with such a wide variety of tea. Here are just a few examples of the tea available at time of writing, but this is by no means anywhere near all that is available:
- Jasmine Tea;
- Phoenix Shrubbery;
- Aged Pu Er;
- High Mountain Tea;
- Lapsang Souchong.
At Tea Chapter, you can indulge in some snacks as you sip your tea. The food menu isn’t extensive, as the main focus is obviously tea, but there are hot savoury snacks and sweet desserts. Here are a few examples of what you may find on the menu:
- Dim Sum Platter;
- Dragon Well Noodles;
- Dragon Rice Balls;
- Chapter 7 Cookies.
Courses are provided as either Workshops or Tea Appreciation Packages. So whether you want an introduction or an in-depth course, there’s something for everyone with a thirst for knowledge.
The workshops are aimed at schools and colleges, whereas the Tea Appreciation Packages are for individual customers, and so can be taken by a traveller (though there is a minimum of two people). There are two types of Tea Appreciation Packages. During these sessions, you’ll learn the appreciation of different types of tea as well as learning more of the history and philosophy behind tea. If you are curious about tea and want to learn more about its history and culture, this is a great place to take a course.
How To Get To Tea Chapter
Tea Chapter is located in Chinatown in Singapore and is fairly easy to get to. The nearest MRT station is Tanjong Pagar, which is on the green line. From this station, you need to take the exit onto Peck Seah Street and head north, if you pass Wallich Street on your left, you know you are going the right way. When you reach a T-junction, turn left, you should now be on Maxwell Road. Follow until the end of the road and turn left. This should be Niel Road and Tea Chapter will be a short walk at number 9.
A visit to a Chinese Teahouse is a pleasurable, relaxing experience, wrapped up in ritual and culture. Whether it is your first experience or you are a tea geek, a tea house is a great place to visit. Tea Chapter is a brilliant place if you want to learn about the art and history of Chinese Tea, whether you just pop in for a tea and ask a few questions or go for a full workshop. If you’re visiting Singapore, visit Tea Chapter for a taste of Chinese tea culture.