Chinese tea a growing thirst for younger generations in Singapore

Winner of Pek Sin Choon Nanyang Tea Brewing Challenge says traditional Chinese tea is getting popular with younger crowd

Pek Sin Choon owner Kenry Peh (left) and Mr Nicholas Yeo, one of the gold medal winners of the inaugural Pek Sin Choon Nanyang Tea Brewing Challenge. TNP PHOTO: JONATHAN LEE

(THE NEW PAPER) - Who says traditional Chinese tea is for only for the elderly?

Last Sunday, Mr Nicholas Yeo, 24, was one of the three gold medal winners of the inaugural Pek Sin Choon Nanyang Tea Brewing Challenge organised by Singapore Heritage Festival 2018.

The competition involved identifying tea via a tasting round and brewing tea.

Mr Yeo, who picked up his Chinese tea passion less than a year ago, told The New Paper: "I was in disbelief when I found out I won. I just went back to what I knew to bring out the best brew.

"Tea drinking is getting popular among young people - that is what I have observed in my social circles."

The Nanyang Technological University undergraduate added: "Many people think that Chinese tea is for old men, but that is not true.

"It is accessible to everyone. You could get started with $20 to $30 for tea leaves and a strainer."

He owns 20 teapots and brews his favourite oolong teas once or twice a day. He has spent at least $4,000 on his hobby.

Mr Low De Wei, 20, and Miss Tan Shu Jun, 28, won the other two gold medals at the competition at Kreta Ayer Square.

All three won teaware and tea leaves. There were 17 participants in all.

Miss Andrea Ng, an Asian culture and consumer trends consultant based in Singapore, told TNP that tea culture in general is "definitely picking up" here.

Said Miss Ng, 29, who fell in love with Chinese tea when she visited Hangzhou, China in 2010: "Tea is making a comeback (due to) a growing consciousness among Singaporeans for balanced and healthier lifestyles.

"The younger generation is keen on novel and authentic experiences. Hence, there is a desire to explore and preserve tradition, Chinese tea culture and the appreciation of its art."

Local tea wholesaler Pek Sin Choon, founded in 1925, has been reaching out to younger customers via its website and social media.

Mr Kenry Peh, the fourth-generation owner of Pek Sin Choon, also noted that more young people are appreciating tea.

Said the 48-year-old: "We want to bring the world of tea to the younger generation because it is healthier.

"There has been more young people coming to learn, and most actually bring their friends to the shop for a cup of tea.

"As long as we have the platform (to do so, like the challenge), we try to put out our tea because tea connects people."

Murdoch University undergraduate Darren Tan has visited Pek Sin Choon every other week for the past nine years.

"I love to travel, so I couchsurf a lot," said the 24-year-old, who has visited countries including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

"I pack a travel tea set with me wherever I go and serve tea and they love it.

"This sense of community makes the tea hobby fun."

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