Monday April 22, 2013 | 8 comments
I have been so tired. At tea lessons, I fall asleep while pouring tea. At home, my once meditative tea ritual has been reduced to popping a tea bag into the largest mug I can find and getting a catnap while waiting for the water to boil. My tea blog is bordering on comatose and I have made promises to my tea friends about supporting them at tea events, only to break them by not showing up at the last minute.
This is the point in my tea journey at which I am humbled, broken, and learning to receive. And so I’ve been going to my favorite tea spot in Singapore. It’s a place I’ve written little about because I’ve guarded this place jealously for years. The owner is extremely private and doesn’t like “unnecessary exposure.” But I feel safe sharing Tea Bone Zen Mind with the T Ching community. It’s a place I think you’d appreciate.
Tea Bone Zen Mind is essentially a teashop located in a three-story heritage shophouse in Singapore. It offers tea-sampling sessions for no more than ten people every afternoon, during which you get to try 3-4 teas with some light snacks. It’s the sort of place you need to dedicate a whole afternoon to – talking to a friend or two, wandering around and being entranced by the range of teaware from all over the world (there’s even a secret Japanese tea ceremony room on the top floor).
Here, the whole tea experience emphasizes the details. Moist towelettes are served at the beginning of each tea-sampling session, and the service staff speaks in hushed (yet articulate) tones when explaining each tea that is being served. Every piece of teaware is selected and arranged with utmost care, and the accompanying snack complements the profile of the tea. There’s always some element of a plant to decorate each tea set. Sometimes, if the owner is free, she takes out her favorite antique teaware and has tea with us (I got to sip Earl Grey from some gorgeous vintage Wedgwood china once). It’s a deeply intimate tea experience that is hard to find anywhere else in Singapore, or in the world, for that matter.
The teas here are usually sublime and I love both Tea Bone Zen Mind’s blends (I always bring copious amounts home, especially their lychee oolong and Eight Treasures tea) and their selection of single-origin teas. I like how I’m mostly just left alone with my tea and am able to partake of it in silence and privacy. I like how they play old jazz songs in the background (note how I like my tea with jazz) and produce receipts in handwritten Chinese calligraphy.
But most of all, I like how my Tea Bone Zen Mind afternoons recalibrate my energy and focus, especially during this period of my life when I am feeling too weary to do this on my own. I love how all these creative ideas pop into my head when I’m just resting at my tea refuge, and it gives me new hope that I’ll be back on my feet one day.