A Very Special Tea

21 Feb 2020

Selina Lin (林秀惠), founder & owner of La Meme Histories (旧事书坊) gave me my first Taiwanese Tea when I visited her bookshop at Houpu (后浦) city, on Kinmen Island. My grandmother was born there.

Last September, a packet of Taiwanese Tea was given to me at our first meeting with Selina Lin, who keeps a lovely bookshop called 旧事书坊 (La Meme Histories) in the old city of Houpu on Kinmen Island, where my grandmother was born.

Selina bidding me goodbye last September. I was making sure the packet of tea was properly kept. Above me was one of the many red lanterns that had “Houpu” 后浦 written on it. Who knows? My grandma could have walked on the very spot I was standing on.

I didn’t use the tea leaves soon after I got back to Singapore because firstly I didn’t own a tea pot and secondly such a present deserves an occasion.

A few days ago I bought a glass tea pot from IKEA.

Today Krison dropped by my home with tea snacks from Joo Chiat. There were savoury “soon kueh” (turnip & bamboo dumpling) and “png kueh” (glutinous rice dumpling), as well as Malayan sweets of “ondeh ondeh,” “lapis sagu” & “kuih seri muka,” all full of palm sugar and coconut goodness.

Krison boiled water and brewed the Taiwanese Tea, while I got the mostly Daiso crockery ready. I believe Queen Elizabeth 2 would have approved of our old school gestures of tea serving even though her tea & crumpets are served on silverware & Wedgwood china.

Facing the flowers of the red radishes, we savoured our local snacks and sipped the Taiwanese Tea slowly, as our hunger eased while our senses relaxed and came alive from the warmth & aroma of the beverage.

The tea had a sweet milky aftertaste, although no sugar was added to it. It also didn’t turn tart after successive brews or when its temperature dropped.

Then the wind rose, lifting the windhorse prayer flags hanging outside the sparkling windows and scattering tiny petals of pink and white on our “tea set.”

Pink & White 4-petalled blossoms from Red Radish 1 (Revival) & Red Radish 2 (Numen).

It felt like a miniature Hanami (sakura viewing season) moment was taking place right in the living room of a Singapore flat.

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