Our Tea Philosophy
喝好茶 - Drink Good Tea
Our priority is to source and provide you with top quality specialty loose leaf Chinese and Taiwanese teas. To put it simply, we only sell teas that we would drink ourselves. More than that, we would only sell teas that we would drink on a daily basis. We can actually promise one further: We would only sell teas that excites us, teas that get us out of bed to prepare the kettle and lay the teaware, teas that motivate us day by day to source high and wide in the mountains of China and Taiwan. The point is, you can be rest assured that the teas we stock at Sipscollection aren't just good, but exquisite in many different ways. We let the tea do the talking.
Our methodology and approach to tea is multi-faceted and strict. We scour tea farms and lands in China & Taiwan in search of farmers and partners who are willing to work with us. We take hundreds of samples of each harvest and test them rigorously against each other based on a few metrics that have been devised and honed over our experience in drinking tea.
Although it is not as relevant when it comes to the actual taste of quality tea, the tea leaves themselves can speak a thousand words. We look at things like bud-to-leaf ratio, wholeness of leaves, plumpness of buds, etc.
One of the key factors when it comes to the tea experience. Strength, complexity, and nuance is what we look for.
We look at the consistency and texture of the tea liquor itself. No one wants to drink dusty tea, unless that "dust" are trichomes (downy hairs) from tea buds (yummy)
The most important, for obvious reasons. It better stop our taste buds in their tracks as they slowly appreciate and understand what on earth we just drunk. Any tea that passes through without much thought or is mediocre in flavour will not make the cut.
Character & Complexity
One of the most important to us. Why stock something that has the same boring profile compared to many other consumer teas out there? We look for something unique instead, a flavour profile we find interesting or even down right unexpected (but in a good way). The tea should possess a nuance that elevates it past the plain and simple but into something that is multi-dimensional and complex.
The teas we stock ought to have a noticeable mouthfeel to them; Astringency, salivation, creaminess, as well as complex or even mouthfeels that are hard to describe with words are right up our alley.
Finish & Aftertaste
If the tea is simply drunk without leaving anything of note behind, that would be such a waste. Aftertaste is one of the most important aspects of tea appreciation, which is why we look for things such as 回甘 (Returning Sweetness), 韵 (Throat Rhyme), and much more.
A controversial topic in the tea realm. Some call it 茶气 (Tea Energy), others call it 茶醉 (Tea Drunk), and some denies it even exists. We simply refer to it as the effect the tea has on your body. Does it make you feel more energised? Does it make you sleepy? Or does it make you excited? Chemicals in tea affect your body in many ways, and while it is of course subjective and personal, a tea with no effect is quite the boring one.
Lastly, we look at the tea's ability to be brewed. Can it withstand varying temperature ranges without the brew becoming unpalatable? How many times can the tea be resteepd (耐泡)? Will the tea remain drinkable if accidently steeped it for 10 minutes?
We use these metrics to give us a quantitative idea on which teas we should consider for our store. However, that doesn't mean that these metrics are the end-all-be-all of what is considered "good tea". Ultimately, you should judge the tea yourself on what is "good" for you and what isn't. Don't let flowery "marketing terms" or "descriptions" of what is good convince you otherwise. Even though we may describe our personal opinion of each tea that we stock, we highly suggest that when trying out a tea from our store, you should purchase it in a sample size first to see if you like the tea before buying more. Please do so as eveyrone's tastebuds are different, and a tea that we may like may not be a tea that you may like. Our description of each tea will hopefully give a good enough idea of what you're buying (eg. flavour notes, astringency, etc.)
Another thing to note is that once a tea is out of stock, that same tea is out of stock for good. This is because tea is an agricultural product that changes each harvest and each season. If you compare two batches of the same tea from the same farmer that harvests the same tea plants at the same time of year and processes the leaves in the same way, the final result will not be the same. Even though one year we may get an exquisite batch of tea from one farmer, the next batch from the same farmer may not be as good. This is why we frequently travel to these tea regions, looking for new suppliers who harvest and produce tea while working with our existing suppliers, all to find teas that we consider worthy for our selection. We won't stick with the status quo.
诚实茶 - Honest Tea
Often times in the tea market, you will find teas sold to you under the name of a tea (eg. Da Hong Pao or High Mountain Oolong). You may know the tea as written on the packaging, but what is inside the packaging may be different. Unscrupulous tea sellers love to market tea as one thing, but they sell another inferior tea to you instead. They may even use terms like "Ancient tree" or "Competition grade" to hype up their teas. Although these terms are real terms that describe certain types of tea, who is to say that the seller are just using these terms to market their teas without them actually being what they say they are. Unless you are very experienced in tea, it is incredibly hard to tell real from fake.
Hence, this is Sipscollection's pledge to you. We strive to be honest with our sourcing. No ifs, buts, or maybes. For every tea that we stock in our store, a full list of what, when, where, who, and how we source will be provided. We will seek these information out from our suppliers, and we will inform you if we are genuinely unsure about the validity of certain information given to us. Some teas are more expensive than others, primarily because they are harvested from famous tea villages, or they are "tribute teas" that naturally are more expensive than the rest. We never source teas based off their name, their village of origin, or their stature/reputation, but we source based off of quality and value. We will never sell you teas just because they are from 梅家坞 or 马头岩. We will never sell you teas just because they are 古树 (Ancient Tree) or 野生 (Wild). We sell you good and exquisite teas based on whether we think they are worth that price.
Our sources primarily come from two main avenues. The first are our tea farmer friends who live and grow tea in regions all across China and Taiwan. They may live next to their farm, or they may run a small local shop during off-season in the town center nearby. These people are our primary source of tea, removing all middlemen or wholesalers from the sourcing chain, allowing us to reduce the prices of the teas we sell. We also work with tea partners that we meet along the way. For tea varieties that we may not be able to source on our own (due to time constraints etc), or for rarer/aged teas, we will go through our partners who work in the tea industry, allowing us to sell these kinds of teas to you as well. These partners may be specialty wholesalers, tea collectors, or even friends and family who happen to get their hands on these teas. Obviously, we will do our due diligence and research, only buying from those that we trust and deem reliable. For each tea that we stock, we will also inform you whom (or at least which avenue) we had sourced the tea from.
We will also upload highlights of our sourcing trips on social media. You can watch these primarily on YouTube, where we show you the behind-the-scenes of tea sourcing in various regions of China and Taiwan. From this, you can learn more about the ins and outs of the tea world, and see how we manage to get your tea from the farmer to your cup. Ultimately, we may be able to provide information about the teas, take videos and pictures of our trips to tea farms, and even prove our tea sources. But unless you plant, pick, process, and bring the tea back home with you all by yourself, you can't fully be sure about what exactly you're drinking. Yes, we strive to be transparent and honest with what we do, even more so than the current standard out there, but don't buy based on all that, buy because of our quality and value.
纯正茶 - Pure Tea
At Sipscollection, our focus is on specialty loose leaf Chinese and Taiwanese tea. What that means is that the teas we sell are pure, unadulterated tea leaves, with no herbs, spices, or other ingredients added to it. The most common kind of teas that you'd see on supermarket shelves or tea stores are tea blends (eg. Earl Grey), or tisanes (eg. Chamomile/Peppermint). You won't find any of that here. The world of specialty tea is vast and diverse, built on centuries upon centuries and millennia upon millennia of culture and tradition. Sipscollection pays homage to this, promoting Chinese & Taiwanese tea culture and history through each tea that we sell and each cup that you drink. Good tea doesn't need any additives or special ingredients to make it stand out. Good tea stands out on its own. We always recommend to drink tea straight, no need for milk, no need for sugar. That's the way to get the best out of specialty tea, and appreciate the wonders and complexity of this beautiful drink.
Products like bubble tea and teabags are on the rise, especially amongst the younger generation. Sipscollection plans to bring loose leaf specialty tea back to the forefront, advocating for people across all ages and backgrounds to slow down, relax, and have a cup of tea. We also strongly believe that tea is more than a drink - it's an experience, an art, one that's slowly losing its place in society today. We strive to make pure tea known, recognised, and drunk, locally here in Singapore and globally. We strive to teach and share the art of tea to everyone. We strive to impart the culture of tea to future generations and beyond.