No one would ever think that the picturesque and serene Mount Fuji is still an active volcano. And none might even hazard a guess that the sacred mountain would also be the base for a time-honoured Japanese tradition of tea-making that gives way to TWG Tea's Hon Gyokuro.

The suffix "gyokuro" is a kind of shaded green tea. The prefix "hon" denotes the work of a master artisan. Gyokuro is cultivated through laborious means. That's where the tea isn't grown under the full glare of the sun but rather under the shade.

They are matured under a careful arrangement of handcrafted straw mats known as 'Komo'. Over 25 days, these tea leaves draw in the nutrients of precious minerals that are nurtured by rain showers and dewy mornings. The slow growth of Hon Gyokuro is further nurtured by gentle breezes and sunlight filtering through the woven mat.

After harvesting, the freshly picked tea leaves are promptly processed on the same day. Stored in a wooden box known as Cha-Bako, the leaves rest and mature until autumn, enhancing their exquisite flavours. You get seaweed-green leaves that are rich in chlorophyll. With a flavour profile that hints of honeysuckle and that ends in a velvety finish with a touch of ooika—a thick, heady note that ignites the senses. This is a tea of brilliant sweetness and concentrated flavour.

Last of its Kind

This ancestral Gyokuro technique is practised by only a handful of tea plantations in Japan. There, where Mount Fuji sits, the altitude and terroir add to the Gyokuro harvests. The two renowned tea estates which TWG Tea sources from are managed by a single tea planter. In the case of Master's Gyokuro, the plantation's lone producer and craftsman of Hon Gyokuro is the last in the line of tea planters. He harvests the leaves by hand once a year in the spring. Only a mere five-kilogramme yield is passed onto TWG Tea. Needless to say, for the sort of exceptional quality, the Hon Gyokuro is highly limited.

TWG Tea's Imperial Gyokuro (SGD264 per pot / SGD1,271.50 per 50g) and Master's Gyokuro (SGD61.50 per pot / SGD258 per 50g) are more than just a cup of tea; it is an experience. Where contemplation over a comforting brew brings to the fore the appreciation of long-cherished heritage and craftsmanship.

Happy Noel Tea. TWG TEA

Like Mariah Carey re-emerging for her dedicated time in the spotlight annually, TWG Tea showcasing its latest festive tea and menu is something we can all anticipate as Christmas lights start going up.

That's not to say the brand can't be enjoyed over the rest of the year. Many of us have a favourite from the ever-expanding selection of luxury teas. If anything, 15 years is testament enough that its offerings goes beyond seasonal fancy.

For fans, the anniversary microsite maps out the archive of revolutionary moments during this ongoing legacy. The digital World of TWG extends beyond downloadable Instagram stickers and wallpapers to its inaugural Virtual World with 3D models of signature products and 360° views of some of the world’s most renowned tea estates.

But Back to Christmas

Yule Logs. TWG TEA

Starting, obviously, with the tea, the limited edition comes off the Grand Mode Tea Collection like the holiday if it could be captured in a taste. The Happy Noel Tea blends orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom, apples and pink peppercorn. It's pretty spice-heavy from the outset, and also marks the first time the tea maker uses white tea for its festive range.

Pairing wonderfully are the sweet delicacies like the handcrafted Yule Logs. A modern rendition layers coconut sponge and Christmas Lights Tea-infused mousse with passion fruit crémeux and fresh tropical fruit, while the chocolate decadent one tops Napolean Tea-infused mousse with gold leaves and hazelnuts.

On the petite, pop-in-your-mouth side, the (you guessed it; tea-infused) Chocolate Bonbons and Pistachio Ganache are great gifts too. More so if they are for yourself.

TWG Tea Salon at Marina Bay Sands. TWG TEA

If you want all that jazz wrapped as a dine-in setting to treat a loved one, the Festive Set Menu is another great option. From sparkling cocktails to mains and desserts, the curated selection of favourites feel especially atmospheric in the iconic locale of the different TWG Tea Salons. And fret not, these dishes infuse tea in creative ways (think Matcha Salmon) that either add subtle touch or go undetected.

When it comes to Christmas, we wouldn't exactly say it's the answer to the fatigue of baseless gift guides and restaurant recommendations, but it does a simple, quality festive experience make.

TWG Tea's Happy Noel Tea, Yule logs, Chocolate Bonbons, Pistachio Ganache, and Festive Set Menu are available until 31 December.

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