Pek Sin Choon 白新春 is one of the oldest tea merchants in Singapore. Established in 1925 by the grandfather of Kenry Peh, the third generation owner.
I am privileged to know Kenry personally.
Kenry is a consummate story teller and a gracious gentleman.
At every visit, Kenry would regale us with captivating and charming stories about Chinese tea, tea appreciation and tea culture in Singapore. I am in awe with the depth of Kenry's knowledge about Chinese tea and admire his patience in sharing it passionately with novices like me.
Kenry infects people with tea love :p
Kenry has a special way of making people drool over delicious stories and historical details which are actually as dry as tea leaves. (bro Kenry, please pardon the pun, cannot resist :P )
Kenry's mastery of the tea trade and culture did not come easy. He had to start at the bottom of his grandfather's shop, learning the ropes the hard way with one of the company's loyal, old tea masters. Kenry shared that, sometimes in the middle of tea processing and blending, the tea master would suddenly excuse himself and left the young Kenry to manage the crucial procedures alone. The master would reappear only when the process was complete.
Years later, the old master told Kenry that he wanted to make sure that Kenry truly had the passion and commitment towards tea culture and tea trade. He didn't want Kenry to be in charge of Pek Sin Choon just because he was the founder's family.
Kenry passed the test with flying colours.
Actually, I have never seen anyone live and breathe tea like Kenry.
In the old days, it was customary for customers to drink Chinese tea with bak kut teh 肉骨茶 "to wash away" the greasiness in the meaty, hearty pork broth.
Kenry's grandfather pioneered premium tea appreciation and social bonding with eating bak kut teh. Initially, the bak kut teh bosses were skeptical about the coupling but customer response proved that it was a brilliant idea, the ultimate pairing 绝配.
Today, almost all the major bak kut teh restaurants in Singapore use Pek Sin Choon's premium teas - the most famous of which is 不知香 or "Unknown Fragrance".
不知香 is a blend of Wuyi Oolong and Anxi tea with a pleasant gentle piquant aftertaste.
Till this day, Kenry still champions the heritage of pairing tea appreciation and enjoying bak kut teh. I had the good fortune to be part of Kenry's tea and bak kut teh sessions occasionally. This was our session at Lau Ah Tee bak kut teh 老亚弟肉骨茶 which I enjoyed very much.
Delicious food, lovely tea and great company.
What more could anyone ask for?
At Pek Sin Choon, the teas are still lovingly packed by hand in the old way 包茶, in traditional pink paper packaging.
Kenry could easily automate this part of the process and save money with an off-the-shelf packaging machine but he remains committed to heritage and the human touch in his teas.
Though Kenry is gracious and generous with his precious time, time flies when I am with Kenry, the true tea master.
I am always left thirsting for another tea session.
(The Heritage Heroes Series celebrates the new generation who have our shared heritage at heart, and in whose hands our collective heritage is safe and will continue to thrive.)
Pek Sin Choon Tea Merchants 白新春
Address: 36 Mosque Street, Singapore (5 minutes' walk from Chinatown MRT station)
Hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm (Closed Sunday and Public Holidays)
Tel: (+65) 6323 3238
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Dates visited: Numerous occasions since 2013
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