Tea Spots in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur?


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Tea Spots in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur?

Postby SmidgeDE » May 23rd, '09, 05:56

Hi everyone,

I am planning a trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in September where I also want to buy teas and teaware. Does anyone know of cool tea spots in the two cities where I can do this? A Cameron highlands tour with a visit to a tea plantation is also planned, so I will definitely check the teas/teaware there.

Greetings from Germany,
Smidge
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Postby Herb_Master » May 23rd, '09, 19:26

I have made an annual trip to Kuala Lumpur for the last 3 years, and on the last 2 have delighted in exploring tea shops and drinking tea.

On my first visit I stayed for the first 5 nights of my Malaysian holiday in the Swiss Inn in the heart of China Town. The front entrance is on Jalan Sultan, and the breakfast room, bar and rear entrance open directly on to Petalling Street the throbbing fulcrum of all the market stalls that attracts locals and tourists alike.

http://www.swissinnkualalumpur.com/index.html

On Jalan Sultan withing 20 seconds walk of the Swiss Inn are 3 tea emporiums, one on the same side of the street as the Swiss Inn looks impressive, is dark, dimly lit and atmospheric, but the staff leave you to your own devices and make no sales pitches, and indeed when you approach the counter intent on a purchase they possess almost zero english, and do little more than wrap your goods and take your money. On one occasion, they were unwrapping a puerh that must have been 4ft in diameter and 3'6" high (although it may have been 2 1'6" discs stacked. The chipped and hacked tea was spreading out over a huge tarpaulin)
On the other side of the street were 2 shops in close proximity, one with no english speaking staff and few wares on dosplay, the second however I visited about 5 times.

It is called the Evergreen Tea Art Centre and has an impressive display of teaware and racks of tins and packets of many different teas. The tins come in a variety of sizes and nearly every one has a small tin marked sample. There are 2 different tea tables where the staff will sit down with you and do a sample brew of the tea you have chosen. Often I would wander round the shop looking at the teawares and they would open a sample start a brew and invite me to sit down and try it. On one occasion I had to ecuse myself and go outside I was starting to feel tea drunk. I went about 5 times and sampled in excess of 20 teas (All either DanCong or Wuyi with the exception of 2 Anxi Oolongs) . I purchased 2 issues of 'The Art of Tea' magazine, a Tea Re-roaster, a Goldfish Gaiwan set, 4 cheap Tea Canisters and about 8 teas. But I was sorely tempted to buy some expensive Pewter canisters, and gorgeous pottery or porcelain style tea kettle.
There were 2 female sales executives, tea brewing demonstrators both of whome spoke fluent English, and a recently started young male whose english was not so good but who appeared to have just started and was the default tea brew demonstrator.

I asked the younger female if I wanted to order some by mail would it be possible. They did not have a printed brochure, but she said that If I emailed her she would create one for me.
She said they were only too willing to do mail business, and gave me her card saying e-mail for a request list of in stock Wuyis or Dan Congs or whatever and she would send me a list of products and prices including P&P. You could perhaps E-Mail her to tell her you are thinking of visiting and ask her any questions.

Tan Siew Yin - flchia-evergreen@hotmail.com

The young male employee, an elderly customer who had popped in to collect an order (some gaiwan Sets up high)
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Some customers in the front half of the shop
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Where I sampled the teas
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A small selection of 20 different Wuyis (pink tins)
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Jalan Sultan stretches away parallel to Jalan Petalling and then turns at right angles and crosses Jalan Petalling towards Jalan Tun H S Lee.
Between the 2 on a corner of a sidestreet on the left is a branch of Purple Cane.
This is part of a chain that crops up in other places, I encountered one in the Mid Valley Mega Mall. This one has nice enough products on display and you are free to wander, one or more of the staff will approach you from time to time and try to make a sale. But despite 3 visits, and asking various questions I was never once invited to try any tea. In fact on my third visit when I had determined that I was going to buy something (holiday coming to an end) after answering my first question, twice the staff walked away and I had to hang on to a member of staff in order to make a purchase. I bought some cheap tea canisters $1 each and a packaged set of the 4 Famous Wuyi Yan Cha [not cheap]

http://www.purplecane.com.my/purplecane/index.html
They do do online sales.


Proceeding on towards Jalan Tun H S Lee and turning right then walking back (parallel to Petalling Street and the first part of Jalan Sultan ) you eventually come to Wisdom Arts.


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More to follow.
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Wisdom Arts - part 1

Postby Herb_Master » May 24th, '09, 19:40

I first entered Wisdom Arts 2 years ago, and was pleased to be met by May who spoke English, and was keen to talk to me and answer some of my questions. May is the co-owner of wisdom arts, her business partner Ming was away in China on atea buying trip, and she was running the shop with the help of a young Chinese girl who spoke reasonable but limited English. A visitor came into the shop and sat down at the tea session table (a huge table with a slate slab on top with an undercut ledge for drainage), May explained that this was a friend and an expert and he could answer many of my questions far better than she could, that he could brew tea far better than she, and that he had brought some of his prized tea in to share with whomever was there – would I like to join them? – Yes please!


Actually taken on a different day when the same friend was brewing.
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always brewed depending on bubble size
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Some of the more expensive yixings - the commercial ones were at the front of the shop.
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I visited the shop several times, sometimes (especially in the mornings) there was only the young girl there and she would be brewing tea for tourists and passers by on a much smaller table near the front of the shop. But in the afternoons, there would usually be a group including May and one of various friends supervising the brewing. One or more of them would produce a packet of tea (usually Pu) and present it for inspection round the group, one of these or a shop product presented by May would then be brewed for all.

Often the afternoon tea party would include food, the rear table was reserved for food brought in from a nearby Chinese restaurant, 2 people taking a break from tea to line their stomachs. 3 at the near table (4 including me, drinking more tea)
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May with the guest brewer!
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On my last visit I purchase a number of items (May was busy with other customers so I purchased from the girl), a number of products including Ginseng Oolong, Teo Chew Tea, and a Da Hong Pao which the girl was proud to tell me was a genuine Cliff Tea.


The young girl last year at the front of the shop, with commercial teas behind, and in her hands a Tea Cushion that I was buying.
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- - - - - -

Due to my pleasant experiences last year this was the first store I made a beeline for this year. Ming was at the Slate table, fondling and polishing his Yixing teapots, looking slightly quizzically at me as I made a quick move to where the Cliff Teas were on display and started examining them. The young girl appeared to recognise me, said something in Chinese to Ming and his quizzical look melted as he returned his attention to his teapots. Twenty minutes later May entered from the rear, welcomed me joyously, and I was quickly invited to share some tea with Ming in charge. Soon further friends had arrived and there were 8 of us round the table.

After half a dozen tastes of tea, I needed a break from all the concentrated effort, I persuaded may to let me log in to the Lap Top and show her a TeaChat post I had made on their Da Hong Pao. They were extremely tickled to see that they were mentioned on the forum, and later that week, and again 2 weeks later when I had returned from the Cameron Highlands on occasions when different friends were gathered they asked me to log in to Tea Chat and display the post.


That first week a young girl came in with a C.V. which Ming scanned briefly and filed, when I returned from the Cameron Highlands she was there, working alongside the first girl – she had been so nervous when handing in her C.V. she had not noticed me, I commented that I had been there that day and on all subsequent visits she would rapidly greet me with a broad friendly smile and warm welcome.

Nothing happens early in China Town (or anywhere else in the centre of K.L.) – shops tend to open at 10 in the morning and stay open late into the evening. Most mornings at 11 you would only find the 2 girls, who operate at the front of the shop where they have a medium sized range of Chinese teas, Green, Commercial oolong, Ginseng, Black etc. Towards the back of the shop are a huge collection of PuErh and 3 genuine YanCha Oolongs – this is the preserve of Ming.

Ming with one of the teapots he had commissioned for the shop, I bought one, and an aged tea that he was about to let me taste. While we were waiting for some friends to arrive for a tea party.
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Some of the friends who gathered most afternoons for the friendly tea parties at the slate table, spoke good English, and some of the stories I gleaned from them were

Several decades ago a group of friends started exploring Chinese tea together, over the years the group grew to more than twenty strong, they arranged trips to China together and collected more and more tea. They stored some to age and hid it away, from time to time they would unearth one and produce it for all to taste. As the years passed they amassed more and more tea! Finally they realised they had far more tea than they could ever drink, so 2 of their number Ming and May decided to open a tea shop and sell off their overstocks, their friends overstocks and enter the retail tea business wholeheartedly. That was the theory, but in reality it became the focal point for all those original friends and many new ones.

Many of the original groups had tea widows, some of the widows decided they would take up this interest also and became avid tea enthusiasts themselves.


No food yet, the new girl is putting up some customer orders on the rear table, at the tea table one of the original group of friends and his wife who had developed the same enthusiasm for tea. Another tea friend, and Ming working on the lap top looking for some info for me.
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A tea for me to taste, and a riceware cup that I was just about to purchase.
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Some of the widows did not take to the tea so enthusiastically, but started arranging their own trips to China for shopping and sightseeing.

One of the tea friends was an attractive lady doctor who had qualified medically then gone to China to live for 15 years to become fully qualified in Chinese herbal medicine.
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Postby Salsero » May 24th, '09, 21:34

Great story, Herb_Master. I loved every minute of it. Thanks!
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Postby Chip » May 24th, '09, 21:39

Yes, thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us!
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Postby Victoria » May 24th, '09, 22:15

Wow, an amazing story and great photos!!
Thanks for sharing!
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Postby SmidgeDE » May 25th, '09, 08:44

Fantastic, thanks a lot for all the information. I will definitely visit these spots!

If anyone has more information on places to be in Singapore, please share your experiences!
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Postby Luthier » Jun 26th, '09, 06:57

there are lots of places to get tea stuff in Singapore just by going to Chinatown. find Mosque Street no.63. its in the shop houses. if you can see the huge green building across the road. you're very near.

the thing to take note is that do not buy from the shops selling antiques in that area. there are teashops around there selling real stuff. the ones from antiques usually sells pseudo yixings.

the shop at Mosque Street no.63 in linked to another shop at Temple Street just at the North East Line exit. the 2 shops are very similar in terms of decor, ambiance, lighting and even smell. on the left are all teas. on the right are all tea stuff like gaiwans, cups, stoves, kettles, knives, filters, trays, tables and the list goes on. in the middle are the teapots.

just as you enter, the 1st display has all student made teapots at $10 each. if you're lucky you can get one which isnt pretty bad. most are quite good. the 2nd display are works by higher and more professional artisans. the 3rd one usually display sets and celadons. pots by masters and whats on par are usually in the display behind the counter. if you're at 63 then they're in another room.

times they have 50% off for pots on the 2nd rack. yeah half price. :lol:

got my duanni Chaozhou style kettle and stove set there for like S$30.

if you're daring enough to travel around the real part of Singapore, the housing estates. then you may be lucky to find night markets (open from as early as 11am). most of the time there will be at least one Chinese stall with goods directly from China. they usually have porcelains, furnitures, teapots and some other random Chinese art stuff. but do be careful as some really hungry for money. good pots usually will not cost above S$30 there. in China new pots aren't that costly. S$1 is equivalent to approximately RMB4.4.
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Re: Tea Spots in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur?

Postby HolidayHedgehog » Dec 3rd, '09, 17:18

Dear Herb Master,
Thank you for the post and pictures on KL. I came upon this chat site and your post when looking for a map of Chinatown that would hopefully show me the tea shop I was looking for. Your comments and pictures of Evergreen Tea Art offered more than I expected from my search. When I saw the pictures, I knew I had found the correct name and the exact shop of my search. I am thrilled to soon be able to replace my small white porcelain tea pot and its complementary pieces that I bought in Evergreen Tea Art for my beloved jasmine pearls. Your description of the shop and pictures made all the difference. I have now registered for TeaChat, and I look forward to future visits, and blogs. Sincerely, Holiday Hedgehog.
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