3 Perfect Cups of Tea
Kyoto, Taipei and Hong Kong offer three distinct takes on designer tea, cups that will leave you yearning for a refill. Story and photo by CHRISTOPHER KUCWAY.
Published on Jan 11, 2016
1. SUN MOON LAKE RUBY TEA
This medium-bodied brew is best enjoyed alongside a light Chinese meal, though it's not overly harsh and is pleasant to sip on its own. Taiwan's Cha Cha Thé specializes in leaves from southern China, though offers 36 different varieties from around the world at its trendy Taipei shops, in the hopes of elevating tea drinking to a sophisticated national pastime. Its black, oolong and jasmine varieties are packaged in smartly designed containers and teaware that are both timeless and modern. In terms of price, a 100-gram cake of oolong goes for NT$900.
2. YUNNAN TIPPY PU'ER
The darkest and heaviest of the teas pictured here, this glass of Pu'er pairs beautifully with dim sum, offsetting the fats and grease that accompany some of those dishes. Pu'er may be on the earthy end of the tea scale but Hong Kong's Ming Cha offers a wide range of teas—green, white, black, oolong and flower among them—to suit any palate or occasion. The leaves and buds are sourced throughout China each year and, overall, offer a more traditional take on tea drinking. Ming Cha's teas start at HK$85 for some of the more standard oolong and pu'er varieties, though range up to HK$680 for 90 grams of First Flush Longin.
3. SENCHA KABOKU
Put down your chopsticks, this green tea shines brightest when tasted on its own, without food flavors obscuring the palate-cleansing sensation of each sip. Ippodo Tea Co. is very specific in its preparation instructions of 10 grams of tea at 80 degrees Celsius, with one minute of steeping, for the proper balance. The last few drops of each small pot offer the essence of the tea's rich flavor, meant for an early morning or after a meal. Founded in 1717, the Kyotobased Ippodo offers a range of matcha, sencha, gyokuro and bancha teas. Its top matcha costs ¥2,000 for 20 grams, the sencha pictured here is ¥5,000 for a 186-gram tin.