You have to venture into an old industrial building in Hong Kong (similar building that houses my offices and atelier) to enjoy not only a good cup of tea but a whole tea experience, and meeting Vivian is a whole experience!
Vivian, what does MingCha mean? And when did it all start?
明 pronounces as "MING" is the key essence in our brand. We would like people to have an open heart to approach tea, so to understand tea to its fullest and be enlightened. Ming also refers to Ming Dynasty (1369-1644), the golden age of tea production and the period when tea was consumed widely and daily in every household. Cha refers to “Tea”.
MingCha is dedicated to revitalize fine teas for everyday life. We continue to develop, design and present teas in many ways to Let our teas speak to you. The more you understand tea, the more you will respect, appreciate, enjoy and benefit from it.
And when did it all start?
I am a designer and artist before I became an entrepreneur on tea. Back before 1999, a client project on designing Yixing Tea Pots started our interest in tea. During the discovery, we found that there were many myths and misunderstanding on tea and we would like to change that and let people understand it with logic and common sense. Therefore we created “MingCha” in 1999, paying visits to different tea production areas to document the origins, production methods, taste profile of teas; developing, designing and packaging teas with slick and clear information to Let our teas speak to you.
There are so many different teas from green, oolongs, red, white and black. How do we classify tea?
Teas are classified by the degree of oxidation. Oxidation refers to the how tea reacts to light, moisture and air. In theory, non-oxidized teas are green, full-oxidized teas are red, semi-oxidized teas are oolongs. White tea undergoes a prolong oxidization whereas Puer (Black) undergoes a post-oxidation for further ageing.
I know that you serve every guest your Jasmine Blossoms when they visit your tea house. It is visual stunning as it opens up like a flower in water. Is it a tea or a flower? What is so special about this tea?
Jasmine Blossoms is our hero product. It is a handcrafted tea ball composes of green tea buds and leaves, lily and thousand day red flower. The tea balls are then scented with fresh jasmine flowers for 6 times, so that when you brew it in water, you can smell the jasmine aroma and taste the gentleness and sweetness of tea. It is anti-oxidizing and anti-ageing. It is a tea for mind, soul and body. It is also a great tea to start to show the handcraftsmanship and quality in fine tea.
Tea is super healthy and has tons of benefits, I feel we never talk enough about them. What are they? Tell us about tea and wellness.
Tea, or Cha (Camellia sinensis), is a species of plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce the second most popular drink in the world, after water.
In ancient books, 24 distinct benefits are attributed to it: tea is said to revivify and energize, calm, improve eyesight, quench thirst, cool internal and external heat from the body, detoxify, degrease, improve intestinal movements, act as a diuretic, reduce mucus, remove air/gas from the body, strengthen the bones, energise and increase longevity.
Lots of researches on tea are done showing substances, like polyphenols, caffeine, aromas and fragrances, theanine, vitamin A, B, C, D & E, are having positive effects on our health.
However, not all teas are suitable for everybody as they are so much different in aroma, taste and health benefits. For instance, green teas are good for people who are more heaty whereas red teas are good for people with cold hands and feet. It is important for us to stay open and experience each tea using our senses to see how we feel and our body reacts towards a tea, rather than blindly follow just the benefits written on the packaging. Furthermore, it is also important to consume tea with moderation. A good tea should not upset you but bring positive effect towards your mind, body and soul.
There are so many different teas from green to oolong to red and white to black. Can you give us a quick course and teach us how to brew tea?
We have a special ware called Gai Wan to brew tea the “kungfu way”. It composes of a lid and bowl. Capacity is about 100-150ml. It is made with over-glaze porcelain, you can use the same Gai Wan for any teas. Here are the steps: First, warm the bowl with hot water, empty the bowl, then put 3 grams of dry leaves, smell the aroma. Secondly, add water to cover the tea leaves, blanch it with hot water (waking up the tea leaves), decant all the blanched water. Thirdly, add hot water to the bowl to 80% full, cover the lid for a minute (real brewing). Lastly, then create a gap between the lid and bowl to decant all the tea into a fair pot or directly to a cup. Why decant all tea? It is to control the taste and strength of tea and avoid over-brewing. You can brew the same tea for multiple times to enjoy the change and development of the aroma and taste in each brew.