A meal is what you make it, and all the better if the food embraces and highlights a culture.
Growing up with Asian roots, heritage cooking is a big part of our lives — whether it is a recipe passed down or a family business, most of our beloved dishes come from a time before, well-preserved to be carried to the next generation. It’s a way to spotlight the region’s vibrant culture, and that’s what Gryphon Tea Company and Kim Choo Kueh Chang — two Singaporean homegrown brands — aim to do, through the love of tea and rice dumplings.
The Gryphon Tea Company can be historically traced to almost a century, and Kim Choo Kueh Chang dates back to 1945… and both brands have taken important steps to preserve the Singapore culture and take it to the global stage.
Gryphon Tea Company
What began as a humble provision shop in 1918, trading in Chinese tea on Chinatown’s Hokkien Street flourished into a tea import and export company by the 1970s, when founder Tian Wee’s father took over. In 2006 when Lim Tian Wee — now a fourth-generation member of the Lim family — struck out on his own, Gryphon quickly became known for its unorthodox tea flavours, such as Pearl of The Orient with Lychee, Earl Grey Lavender with Strawberry, Chamomile with Apple and more.
As a young boy, Tian Wee used to watch his grandfather artfully prepare his cup of dark, roasted ‘shui xian’ oolong each morning. His passion to carry on the legacy and grow his family business came to him naturally. Even the name of the company, Gryphon Tea, originated from the mythical creature with a lion’s body and eagle’s head and wings — a tribute to his father who drew the gryphon as a logo back in the 1980s.
Until today, Gryphon Tea Company continues to pay tribute to Singapore’s culture beyond Tian Wee’s childhood. Singapura Spice, Gryphon Tea’s first limited-edition blend is inspired by local delicacies — curry, enriched with curry leaves, sweet basil, mint and tropical fruits. The Travel Series, which features a range of flavours (Di Tanjong Katong, Little Things, Singai Naadu, Blooming Gardens, Tropical Paradise and Sunny Island), draws inspiration from the eponymous songs and scenes from Singapore’s past.
Tian Wee’s endless drive to grow the Gryphon Tea Company brand embodies the Singaporean spirit of turning possibilities into reality and passion. Hence, it is fitting that Gryphon is a part of the country’s ‘Made with Passion’ initiative, which promotes consumer awareness and appreciation for Singapore brands.
Kim Choo Kueh Chang
Rice dumplings have been a staple of any Peranakan household for as long as anyone can remember, and they say that the different ingredients used to make them symbolise a different story. Kim Choo Kueh Chang, a Peranakan gem that first set its roots at Joo Chiat Place in 1945, has been dedicating itself to conveying these stories. Today, Kim Choo Kueh Chang’s third-generation custodians continue to preserve their grandmother’s recipes as well as the art of wrapping the well-loved triangular rice dumplings, which remain cult favourites today.
Kim Choo Kueh Chang still operates out of its original location at Joo Chiat Place, and is an integral part of the neighbourhood’s identity. Besides wowing locals with its renowned rice dumplings, Kim Choo Kueh Chang also does its part to share Peranakan culture by offering workshops including Peranakan beading, embroidery and sharing sessions on the history of Nyonya Kuehs. These activities offer insights into the Peranakan way of life and preserve crucial elements of their heritage, especially Peranakan beadwork.
It’s this commitment to preserving the local heritage that also earned Kim Choo Kueh Chang its ‘Made with Passion’ stamp from Singapore Tourism Board.
The post Jazz up your afternoon meal with a touch of Singapore’s cultural roots appeared first on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.