Nov 14, 2007

tea bone zen mind

so here i am, early on a wednesday evening on seah street, in the restored shophouse that houses tea bone zen mind. (or, rather, there i was -- shortly after i began writing this, my cousin showed up) after stopping by earlier with minzhi, i wanted to come back and read some of the steep road to garbadale here. tea bone zen mind has a small footprint but is almost three storeys high. in the seating area, the full height of the room is revealed and a wall of old windows provides a wash of soft light (it's overcast outside). a deep blue cut-glass cup showed up right after i sat down, holding a light infusion with no flavour and the faintest scent of fruit -- it turns out to be lychee tea. they had a gyokuro on the lists, and i ordered a pot of it. darryl points out how aspirationally mo-an-esque this is, and he's right. they didn't use quite as much leaf as they should have, but the brew was vegetal with an appropriately jade-green colour; it had a mild astringency but also limestone overtones that kept it tasting rich in the mouth. it was a lot like falling asleep in a large mound of fresh grass clippings on a warm and humid day. they served the tea with a cube of azuki bean kuzu jelly, some crystallized yuzu peel, and those spiky sugar balls that i don't really understand -- a classic summer-into-fall group of flavours, though i suppose to be really accurate you should just serve summer things all year in singapore. the cup had a beautiful grey-green celadon glaze with a tan rim, and the pot was dark brown with an ingenious lid that keeps the tea leaves in when you pour -- for sale in the remarkably expensive ware shop on the second level (where long, involved tea tastings are also held for valued clients who will lay down several thousands of dollars on teas and porcelain). it's all very beautifully done. not to forget that they have a set of grass green cabinets lining the wall, and those deep, straight-sided porcelain sinks that everyone remembers from secondary school chemistry labs.

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