The Place Located along Neil Road at the fringe of Chinatown, Tea Chapter started back in 1989 by a group of tea enthusiast per their website. The retail shop is located at the first floor of the shophouse, with Tea House located at levels 2 and 3. Upon heading up, you will be introduced to the tea rooms with some privacy including the Oriental Room and Korean Room. The main difference between both is that the Oriental Rooms are with proper table and chairs, whereas the Korean Rooms will have guests sit on elevated floors. And yes, we were told one of the specific Oriental Room had the honour of hosting Queen Elizabeth II sipping on Tea Chapter’s eventual-signature Oolong tea offering, the Imperial Golden Cassia. These rooms comes with an additional charge of a few bucks more.
If you are not willing to pay for the rooms, just head up to level 3 for their Japanese tatami seats. The open plan seating arrangements may not provide you much privacy, but we aint’ Queen Elizabeth anyway.
During our visit, the Pandas decided to head into a Korean Room to take a respite from the world and enjoying our quiet time to sip tea slowly on a weekend.
The Food You should not visit Tea Chapter looking for food, that’s the first takeaway after speaking with the service staff. When asked for any recommendations, we were duly informed that there are no signatures on the food menu, and the staff will have the food orders heat up via the always-helpful microwave oven. With this, we decided to comb through the tea menu in search for our brew of the day.
Since it was my first visit to Tea Chapter and at the recommendation of the staff, I couldn’t resist but decided to go for their signature tea, the Imperial Golden Cassia (S$25). Yes, we may not be Queens, but we can definitely choose to drink what the Queen drank three decades back.
A rather light Oolong tea, and the tea leaves comes from An Xi in Fujian Province.
Despite the lack of recommendations, we decided to order some small bites to go with the tea. Went for the Dragon Rice Balls (S$5) which are glutinous rice balls with either peanuts and black sesame fillings. I personally like Japanese mochi and thought these always pairs well with tea, though the mochi here does taste like it was pre-packed.
Rants Have visited teahouses across various cities, and while Tea Chapter is truly a pioneer of sorts in the Singapore market, the service standard is anything but zen.
Will I Return Again? While cafes are plenty, teahouses are rare in Singapore, unlike the strong tea culture in other Asian cities like Taipei or Kyoto. Tea Chapter remains one of the few options locally, and is one with some impressive history to it. With more care, this is definitely a place to return.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
9 Neil Road
Tel: +65 6226 1175
Sunday to Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday to Saturday: 11am to 10:30pm
Ranted by The Ranter