Apparently, there are 24 million ways to make a cup of tea. This also means everyone takes their tea differently and there’s nothing more personal and experimental than brewing your own cuppa just the way you like it. Conveniently, the gloomy season is probably the best time to slow down and experiment with tea brews that suit your cup.
Some stick to the classic, unblended single-origins; simply brewed the way it is, or maybe add a dash of honey or milk to sweeten the flavour—to each one’s own. But the world of tea is also filled with tea blends that intertwine flavours from different tea leaves to fruits, herbs and spices, leading to the creative and mindful crafting of tea for every mood.
Timely brews for the weather
Enthusiasts of single-origin will be drawn to East Java & Co’s organic black and green tea. For gloomy or drizzling days, co-founder Leo Schwarz opted for the duo, either brewed pure or with add-ons to one’s liking. The classic recipe is to add slices of fresh ginger and lemon to black tea, which can be sweetened with raw forest honey or cinnamon bark for extra flavour. Some, he noted, even swear by adding a splash of good ol’ scotch to beat the cold.
“Fresh lemon is a good source of Vitamin C, while ginger is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties,” said Leo. “But drinking tea goes beyond the ingredients, it’s also a ritual that gives you time to reflect and helps reduce stress.”
While with green tea, adding fresh mint leaves can also add a certain dimension to the experience. And the good thing about loose-leaf, Leo noted, is that it can be re-steeped several times during the day. “You can have some green tea in the morning, re-steep the same tea leaves with fresh mint in the afternoon, and make iced tea in the evening by chilling it in the fridge overnight.”
On the other hand, Neysa Valeria, co-founder of Bandung-based tea brand Havilla Gourmet Tea suggested something herbal to warm up the body, like their Golden Remedy with organic green tea as the base, blended with turmeric, emprit ginger, tamarind and peppermint. “This blend was created back in mid-March of last year. The idea is to create a delicious immune booster and jamu-like sensation to warm up the body and increase immunity,” said Neysa, who is also a certified tea master by the Australian Tea Masters. “A dash of honey would be a pleasant addition and it gives you extra health benefits as well.”
For a calming and mood-boosting effect, Neysa answered to two of Havilla’s blends: Frais Lychee and Havilla Grey (their own twist of Earl Grey). The former combines rosebud, red rose petals, longan, marigold and natural lychee infusion, whereby the “sweet lychee aroma and blend flavours can uplift the rain’s gloom,” noted Neysa. While the latter mixes black tea with lemongrass, lemon peels, bergamot and cornflower petals; the lemongrass, in specific, adds a warming layer of flavour, while its aroma can induce calming effects. “It’s also great to be paired with warm milk and a freshly baked dark chocolate cake.”
When feeling under the weather, Anindhita Hambali, the founder of TEMA Tea, also vouched for the remediable traits found in tea. Hence their Remedy blend, which is a combination of green tea, pandan, lemongrass and ginger. “Ginger adds warmth and comfort to our digestive system due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a balance of comforting taste and function in one cup,” said Anindhita, whose exploration of tea started when she observed the limited options for Indonesian tea in local cafes.
TEMA experimented further by creating their own version of Masala chai with their Autumn blend: it’s black tea mixed with aromatic herbs and spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, ginger and black pepper. The notes are spicy, sweet and toasty, and ingredients like cinnamon are notable for being a natural immune booster and having antioxidant properties to beat the cold and coughs. “But the best part [of Autumn] is that it’s so good to be with mixed hot milk without any fancy recipe, and voila, you have a cup of Masala chai!” said Anindhita.
“A good quality tea is a balanced tea, especially in tea blends. Whether each ingredient can support the union of flavours that one wants to achieve and whether those ingredients are fresh, sourced and processed properly are important aspects that I usually look for.”
Hutomo Joe, managing tea artist at tea salon & gallery, Koningsplein Co., swear by their Empress Oolong no.7 blend for cloudy or pouring days. The delicately pungent combination of Chinese red tea of Tie Guan Yin with Osmanthus flowers is made on the principle of Yin and Yang, which respond to the red tea’s warming effect and the flower’s cooling effect. “People tend to feel uneasy during such days. This balance of warm and cold can bring harmony to one’s body and mind,” said Joe, who suggested adding honey to sweeten the mood. One can also steep it several times during the day or have it cold brew by infusing it overnight.
Joe, who started his tea journey in 2000 upon travelling China and Taiwan, also suggested their Jakarta Thee no. 22 blend for the weather. Created in light of Jakarta’s anniversary, the blend is comprised of green tea, pandan and chrysanthemum. “It is a blend that can soothe nervousness, tension and relief against the flu. It is also good for reducing body heat and exhaustion,” said Joe. “Tea is all about personal enjoyment, focusing on what you truly need and hearing your inner self.”
Making the perfect cup of tea? There may not be such a thing. As resonated by these respective brands, it all boils down to personal preference and experimentation. And during this in-between weather – one time pouring, the next humid – the ideal consolation is to turn to a hot cup of tea and explore the flavours one desire to warm and soothe the body and mind.
As Leo of East Java & Co deduced: “You don’t learn anything about tea by listening to someone say that green tea has to be brewed at exactly 82°C for two minutes and twenty seconds. You learn about tea by changing its parameters and observe the difference they make, by finding your own way and own approach to tea.”
East Java & Co
A purveyor of organic and natural food, East Java & Co is known to make fine foods that use traditional farmhouse recipes and methods along with sustainable farming practices. Fresh and quality products range from granola, jam to organic tea and spices. You can find their Single Origin Organic Black and Green Tea here.
Havilla Gourmet Tea
Bandung-based tea brand, Havilla Tea, was founded by certified tea master Neysa Valeria and tea blender Ajeng Respati in 2014. The duo provides a range of tea and tisane selections along with teawares on their website, where customers can also create their own tea blend. You can purchase their Golden Remedy, Frais Lychee and Havilla Grey here, Tokopedia and Shopee.
Established in 2017, TEMA Tea has been providing locally-sourced tea selections from single-origin to blends on the premise that tea is personal. On their website, customers can explore their range of tea, from loose-leaf and tea bags, along with teaware and the know-hows of tea-making. You can find their Remedy and Autumn blend here, Tokopedia and Shopee.
From Indonesian and Chinese to English and Japanese tea, Koningsplein Co. has been serving customers selections of tea at their tea salon and gallery in Jalan Bungur, Central Jakarta, since 2007. Tea enthusiasts can also find an array of its offerings at their retail store, the t-story and their newly opened tea house Pieces of Peace in Petak Enam. You can purchase their Empress Oolong no.7 and Jakarta Blend Thee at their establishments or their Tokopedia page.