Wednesday September 19, 2012 | 7 comments
Both coffee and tea have existed for a long time, but why has technology been more pervasive in the evolution of coffee than in the evolution of tea? The Italian espresso machine revolutionized not only the taste of the beverage, but also the cafe experience. But why hasn’t the same evolution taken off for tea?
While some headway has been made with the likes of the teapressos, the technology revolution in tea hasn’t really quite taken off like the way the espresso machines did with coffee. This leads one to question whether the technology revolution in tea has died a premature death.
Two Singaporeans do not believe so. James and Yuchang, the energetic co-owners of Teyvika (a new tea room in Singapore) not only believe that a technological revolution is necessary for tea, but that it is far from dead. It has, in fact, only just begun.
While James and Yuchang are avid fans of the traditional Chinese tea-making approaches, they believe that such methods are imperfect since they are prone to human error and inconsistency. After all, tea varies even among tea masters. However, James and Yuchang were concerned that inconsistencies might be unpleasant for consumers as well as difficult for franchise businesses to accept. At the same time, they were not satisfied with existing technological tea-making solutions.
Unwilling to compromise on taste and yet insistent that a technological solution was necessary, James and Yuchang spent a considerable amount of time doing their own research and development. After a tedious, trial-and-error process over a year or so, the duo now believe they have found a way to brew the perfect cup of tea using the Teyvika machine, a one-of-a-kind tea-maker, which combines the Chinese kung-fu tea method with superior engineering.
One of the unique attributes of the Teyvika machine is that its extraction is based on a multiple- rather than single-brew approach. The machine extracts the essence from the tea leaves multiple times (the number of brews depending the type of tea leaves used, sometimes as many as five times), as prescribed by the Chinese kung-fu tea approach, a marked departure from the existing teapresso single-extraction method. This stems from James and Yuchang’s philosophy that multiple brews have the advantage of better control over the steeping time. This helps prevent the bitter-tasting tannins from emerging as a result of oversteeping.
Also built into the machine is the ability to customize the temperature of the water. This means that the Teyvika machine is able to cater to different optimal brewing temperatures for various tea leaves, from a high temperature for black teas to relatively low temperatures for green and delicate white teas. This is ideal for Teyvika’s wide selection of tea.
The Teyvika machine also has a distinctive aesthetic, breaking away from the typical espresso machine mold, through its unique elongated shape. The machine commands quite a presence in the teahouse. With its steel, modern exterior, one really wouldn’t have known that its roots and inspiration came from the Chinese tea-making approach!
My afternoon at Teyvika was quite an experience. It was fascinating to watch, for the first time, how the Teyvika machine worked, and to listen to the thought process behind the wonderful creation. While I am sure there are tea fans out there who do not believe a technological approach is a necessarily superior way of making tea, the Teyvika machine did nevertheless open up a world where technology could potentially create limitless possibilities in our understanding of tea – from how we make tea to how tea tastes to the environment in which we drink and appreciate tea. I do hope this spurs new and creative ideas towards the art and science of tea-making!
On a side note, for those keen in the Teyvika experience, make space for some of their ice-blended teas or their Masala Chai Rooibos. It was a pleasant surprise for me to have an ice-blend that was not loaded with sugar syrup and a chai tea latte in which you could actually taste the essence of the rooibos tea. The tearoom exudes a bright and cheerful atmosphere, which is great for afternoon tea with your friends. Do enjoy the posters on the wall with slogans such as “Say no to tea bags today” and “Insist on civil liberties: a cup of tea today.” Teyvika is located at 97 Amoy Street in Singapore.