I had afternoon tea at Tea Sanctuary. Tea Sanctuary is a tea shop in Singapore located in an upmarket mall at Esplanade (where indoor concerts are held). Esplanade is our equivalent of Sydney Opera House, except that our building closely resembled a local thorny fruit called the durian.
Tea Sanctuary only sells Wuyi oolong tea. There is no pu erh, no liu bao and no white tea. Only Wuyi rock tea. Oolong grown in the mountainous region of Wuyi mountains are called rock tea due the terrain of the mountain there. Tea Sanctuary labelled their tea as numbers instead of specific oolong names, like Shui Hsien or Rougui. A 3 digit number is assigned to a tea.
My wife and I visited the shop yesterday afternoon and had a session of one of their tea namely 528. One of the directors who was manning the shop, Miss Lau Hui Zin, did the brewing the tea for us. She poured out 8g of 528 into a gaiwan and proceeded to brew the tea for us. She had quick hands in brewing the tea. She used a fairness cup (gong dao bei) pouring 2 infusions in the fairness cup before serving the tea to us. This meant a round of tea would comprised of 2 infusions. She explained the shop used only distilled water, porcelain gaiwan and cups so as the tea presented was simple and a customer can replicate this brewing method easily at home as well. Happy to say she used close-to boiling water as well. Before I forget, we were served a cup of chilled oolong before the actual tea to 'clean our palate'. Miss Lau was very meticulous in her service, brewing up the next infusion only after we had only finished our cup of tea.
The tea 528 was described by the shop as 'This fragrant tea expresses the prestigious terroir of Wuyishan with a powerful demonstration of intensity, rich and deep flavours, luxuriously smooth and soft, seemingly everlasting and deliciously rich aftertaste, mouth watering and sweet'. Miss Lau continued to explained to me that the company brought in the Wuyi tea from China and final roastings of the tea are done in Singapore before the tea is ready for sale. One interesting fact was that the company is continuously tweaking their tea (in terms of roasting and resting) so that when you do a repeat purchase of a tea say the 528, the tea may be slightly different as the company is trying to improve the tea itself.
How did I find the tea? The early infusions of the tea was very good. This high roasted tea was aromatic. Quite a long pleasant aftertaste. The taste was robust with good minerals in the tea. I felt the tea did weakened after the 6th infusion. There was a slight sourness (later infusions) in the tea and it was more evident when the tea was cooler. This 528 tea was not the shop's top shelf tea and there were more expensive tea in their offerings. The 528 tea is being sold in an box of 6 packets, 8g per pack, for $63 per box. Miss Lau told me the shop will be offering some aged oolong nearer the end of the year. I will be looking forward to have a session of that aged tea.
Having a tea session (12 infusions) cost me $31 (US$22). This tea session was more suited for 2 people so I recommend you bring a friend with you when you have your tea there.