KUALA LUMPUR: Fancy a cuppa? Many people gravitate towards chamomile and earl grey, but like a certain former prime minister, the newly opened Tannin Hill Tea Gallery is telling tea lovers to look east.
Based in Sentul, Tannin Hill, with its sleek modern facade, will instantly catch your eye in the traffic-congested Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah amid the old Chinese restaurants that are its neighbours.
Tannin Hill, which was founded by dentist Dr Tan Ban Leong, prides itself on merging the best of both worlds where tea is concerned.
Here, drinking a cup of Chinese tea is educational. Tea drinkers are given explainer cards that detail the drink’s origins, how to brew it, its health benefits and what to expect in terms of taste, scent and aftertaste.
Curating eight teas in total, they range from the light-bodied to the full-bodied: Shou Mei, Tie Guan Yin, Qi Lan, Dan Gui, Pu’Er Raw, Da Hong Pao, Pu’Er Ripe, and Liu Bao.
An interesting aspect of Tannin Hill’s system of serving Chinese tea is that it is a largely quick and fuss-free experience. The tea is steeped for only a few seconds before it is served. This is unlike the Western experience of brewing tea, with a tea bag left in a pot or cup for several minutes before it is ready to be enjoyed.
This method of brewing tea has largely been preserved by the Chinese community. Tannin Hill manager Tan Guan An explained that the gallery’s simple aim is to make this historical drink easily accessible for those curious about Chinese teas.
To take this experience to the next level, the family-run teahouse also offers a tea-and-food pairing menu that is reminiscent of both the high tea and course meal experience.
At present, it offers three course sets for those looking to elevate their tea experience: the three-course Delight (RM78), the four-course Voyager (RM92), and the five-course Enchantment (RM138).
On a visit to Tannin Hill, FMT Lifestyle tried the Voyager set, which began with Smoked Duck Quiche Lorraine and a cucumber salad.
It was met with its perfect companion, the medium-bodied Da Hong Pao, which drew out the smoky notes of the creamy duck dish.
This was followed by a heavier tea, the Pu’Er Ripe, and slices of baguettes with a scrumptious mushroom garlic dip and Chicken Bolognaise.
This part of the set meal leant into the savoury, proving a belief held by the gallery: full-bodied teas are best paired with greasy and savoury food, while lighter-bodied teas go well with desserts.
After the Pu’Er Ripe and its accompanying dish, the Voyager shifted gears on the third course.
Reminiscent of an English high tea, a scone with jam and whipped cream was produced with the medium-light Dan Gui, which brought out the subtle sweetness of the jam.
FMT Lifestyle was told that the scones can also be paired with the even lighter Qi Lan tea, which is more minty in flavour.
The four-course meal ended on a high note with Tie Guan Yin, a tea comparable with the South African rooibos due to its roasted barley notes. A slew of petit French delights such as macarons and a chocolate truffle ball accompanied the tea.
Overall, the familiar flavours of the set dishes acted as a comforting guide in this tea experience.
On the more unconventional side, Tannin Hill also offers nitro brew teas in the Raw Pu’Er and Jasmine flavours, which are creamier in texture with a light fizz.
Early risers can also enjoy breakfast or brunch, with the gallery offering croffles and acai bowls as parts of its brunch set. This comes with unlimited tea of any flavour you fancy.
At its very core, Tannin Hill’s tea experience is founded on the “muhibbah” spirit of tea for Malaysians of all backgrounds.
481, Jln Sultan Azlan Shah
Business hours: 10am-6pm (Closed on Monday)
Contact: 016-617 8379