While I love travelling, the actual, physical act of getting from one place to another can be tedious – and there is nothing quite so dreary and uncomfortable to me than the long-haul flights from Australia to the rest of the world. We live in a wonderful country, but it’s a bloody long way to get to anywhere else. I find it impossible to sleep on a plane so wherever possible I try to break the commute, even if it is just for one night, and while on my way to Bulgaria last week (more about that later) I was able to grab a night’s sleep in Singapore. In fact, I scored a whole 24 hours in Singapore this time round so was able to catch up on some food and friends.
My Singapore friend, Jenny, asked me where I would like to go on the afternoon before I was to board the plane again and I requested a traditional Chinese tea house. In spite of living here all her life, Jenny had never visited one herself so, after consulting with her interwebz savvy daughter, we all trooped off to Tea Chapter for a traditional Chinese afternoon tea.
Tucked away in one of the old buildings in Chinatown, Tea Chapter is a salon dedicated to slowing down the pace of life through the traditional art of tea appreciation and the slow and controlled art of tea brewing. It has been doing this since 1989, when a group of tea tragics got together to preserve and share the tradition, opening their own venue to do so. Since then, they have been visited by the great, the glorious and the royal, including many political leaders and Queen Elizabeth II.
The business has expanded over the years and is now the biggest tea house in Singapore. Besides offering their simple and relaxing tea service in the charming private alcoves at the top of the stairs, they stock an enormous range of teas, tea wares and tea books and also provide tea workshops and education sessions, so I was well and truly in my happy place.
We climbed the stairs and were shown to the the same room the Queen had sat in. This was easy to tell because there were photos of her delicately slurping her tea propped on all available spaces. We selected our tea (their famous Golden Cassia Oolong) and were shown how to wet the leaves before actually brewing and chose from the limited, but very adequate, menu of snack items. We then sat back and whiled away the afternoon with tea, nibbles and chatter and emerged a couple of hours later relaxed, revived and restored – and, in my case, ready to face another 11 hours folded up into a space the size of a small cupboard.
I came away with some more tea to take home (“Just what we needed” muttered The Bloke when I told him) and with two new addictions – the heady and fragrant tea eggs and the deliciously chewy and moreish glutinous rice balls. I’ll be hunting both of those down again very soon.
Tea Chapter can be found at 9-11 Neill Rd, Singapore.