TEA-TILLATING ROASTS

The smoul­der­ing at­trac­tion of roasted teas

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS CHAR­LENE CHOW

The smoul­der­ing at­trac­tion of roasted teas

The cur­rent fas­ci­na­tion with all things charred doesn’t only ap­ply to food. It seems we love our teas smoky and toasty too, go­ing by the range we can find be­yond the typ­i­cal ho­jicha or Ja­panese roasted tea. They are green, oo­long or herbal ti­sanes which make good com­ple­ments to myr­iad dishes. If you’re a fan of this taste pro­file, here are some to try.

ROASTED JA­PANESE GREEN TEA

Gyokuro Ho­jicha Kaho

Made in Kana­gawa, Ja­pan,

Royal Blue Tea teas are pro­duced us­ing an un­heated cold-brew­ing process called muzi­dashi. The teas are served cold, and in wine glasses as you would a good wine. In Sin­ga­pore, the teas are avail­able via their web­site and at restau­rants Beni, Hashida Sushi and Res­tau­rant An­dré.

Gyokuro Ho­jicha Kaho ($214 for 750ml bot­tle), a premium roasted green tea in their col­lec­tion, is made with roasted Gyokuro or shade­grown green tea leaves from Fukuoka pre­fec­ture. The stems of the Gyokuro leaf is avail­able only in very small quan­ti­ties and un­dergo a two-stage light roast­ing method to bring out their char­ac­ter­is­tics. This method is eas­ily five times more labou­ri­ous than that used to make reg­u­lar ho­jicha. Says Kenji Yamanaka, ex­ec­u­tive chef of one Miche­lin-starred res­tau­rant Beni, “Kaho goes es­pe­cially well with red Kobe beef and roast Chal­landais duck. Th­ese dishes are heav­ily roasted to draw out their rich aro­mas and sea­soned us­ing a sweet Madeira sauce with high al­co­hol con­tent.” roy­al­bluetea.com.sg

OO­LONGS

An­tea So­cial

Con­cu­bine and Dong Ding are two Oo­longs that hail from Nan­tou county, Tai­wan, near Dong Ding Moun­tain. Jo­lene Seow, founder of An­tea So­cial, sources hers from a tea mas­ter in Nan­tou county. The rare Con­cu­bine tea (price de­pends on har­vest) is hand­picked, medium-roasted and has a unique flavour im­parted by tiny green in­sects known as green leaf hop­pers that nib­ble on the leaves just be­fore har­vest­ing. This pre­cip­i­tates some chem­i­cal changes in the tea leaves, even kick start­ing the ox­i­di­s­a­tion process while still on the plant. The re­sult is a tea that has a honey-like aroma.

Dong Ding Oo­long (from $12.50 for a 10g pack) is hand­picked, medium-roasted (more so than Con­cu­bine) and, ac­cord­ing to Seow, has a “fruity, nutty, roasted golden tea liquor with a lin­ger­ing, sweet af­ter­taste”. Dong Ding pairs well with spicy food, grilled meats or white choco­late desserts, vanilla desserts and bakes. Con­cu­bine Oo­long makes a nice match with our lo­cal kaya toast. “It brought out the flo­ral and honey notes of the tea,” she said. an­teaso­cial.com.sg Tian Fu Tea Room

A ded­i­cated tea room ad­joined to Sichuan Dou Hua res­tau­rant at Parkroyal on Kitch­ener Road, Tian Fu Tea Room of­fers more than 30 va­ri­eties of premium Chi­nese tea to go along with its dim sum se­lec­tion. Two of their Oo­long teas are among their most pop­u­lar roasted tea se­lec­tions. One is Wu Yi Da Hong Pao or Red Robe ($16.80 per per­son or from $70 for 50g tea leaves), a prized tea with a deep roasted flavour and a long fin­ish, grown on the min­eral-rich cliffs of Wuyi Moun­tain, a UNESCO world her­itage site. The other is a new ad­di­tion to their list, Mi Xiang Dan Cong, which has the aroma of honey. Both go well with fried dim sum such as deep-fried potato frit­ter with minced meat or pan-fried minced meat dumpling with chives. 181 Kitch­ener Road. Tel: 6428 3170; tian­futea­room.com

HERBAL TI­SANES

Ban­noucha

This roasted herbal tea by Mu­rataen com­pany in Ku­mamoto pre­fec­ture, Ja­pan, com­prises a blend of 16 herbs and grains in­clud­ing maize, job’s tears (a grain also known as coix seed) soy­bean, mul­berry leaves, per­sim­mon leaves and liquorice. The flavour of the herbal tea is mildly sweet, yet with a strong flavour and the aroma of nuts roast­ing on an open fire. It does not con­tain caf­feine and has sev­eral health prop­er­ties. It is high in anti-ox­i­dants, aids di­ges­tion, boosts blood cir­cu­la­tion and pre­vents con­sti­pa­tion and fa­tigue.

You can find Ban­noucha served at some din­ing es­tab­lish­ments like Teppei Ja­panese res­tau­rant.

It is also avail­able at Ise­tan su­per­mar­ket and other re­tail out­lets. ku­mosin­ga­pore.com Toasted Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is a South Amer­i­can bev­er­age made from the leaves and stems of the holly plant. In Ar­gentina and other coun­tries in the re­gion, it is tra­di­tion­ally drunk in a mate gourd with a bom­billa, or straw fil­ter. Yerba Mate con­tains a high level of caf­feine— typ­i­cally higher than tea but lower than cof­fee. It also has some health prop­er­ties such as be­ing rich in anti-ox­i­dants, aid­ing di­ges­tion and re­duc­ing fa­tigue. Toasted Yerba Mate tea goes through a roast­ing process sim­i­lar to cof­fee-roast­ing and emerges with a mel­low, toasty flavour. Avail­able at Ada­gio Teas on­line ($10 for 15 pyra­mid teabags). ada­gio.com

Ban­noucha

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