Major bakeries and hotel chains offer both traditional and inventive variants, but Purple Cane takes it a step further by bringing their passion for tea into their series of tea mooncakes.
If you’re a tea lover, chances are you’ve heard of Purple Cane, a tea house in Malaysia that was established way back in 1987. Purple Cane has been at the forefront of the local tea drinking culture and continues to innovate its products for the generation of today.
Although I love the traditional type of mooncakes, I am still excited about the never-before-seen flavours that are introduced into the market every year. While I do enjoy my fair share of these wonderful confections, I must say I am guilty of not enjoying them to the fullest. However, tea artist Sook Yee from Purple Cane gave me a hands-on experience in the art of eating mooncake, making proper tea and pairing the two together.
Purple Cane’s mooncakes are divided into two categories, which include Refreshing Light Green Tea Crust and Traditional Cantonese Crust. Being a big fan of green tea, the green tea crust mooncake was something I was keen to try. I loved the contrast of the light green tea aroma of the crust with the various flavours which include red bean paste, lotus paste, date paste and assorted nuts paste.
Opening the packaging of the Red Bean Paste Mooncake, I was immediately attracted to the scent of the crust’s green tea. This combination of green tea and red bean reminded me of Japanese desserts comprised of matcha and azuki which I absolutely can’t get enough of. What I appreciated about the red bean paste is that it’s not too sweet, unlike other mooncakes where the paste is so sweet to the point of being bitter. And this is a good thing for the health-conscious as well because you get to enjoy the mooncake without feeling guilty afterwards.
I also had the opportunity to sample mooncakes with the Traditional Cantonese Crust. Though the crust did not have tea infused in it, the company blended tea flavours such as black tea, green tea, puer tea, jasmine tea and rose tea into the paste of the mooncake. I personally enjoyed the Rose Tea Bamboo Charcoal Lotus Paste Mooncake, with the rose tea blended into the lotus paste; the sweet fragrant aftertaste reminded me of spring with the flowers in full bloom.
And now we move on to tea. Admittedly, my everyday teas consist of the ever-convenient tea bag and hot water from the office dispenser. However, for a purist, learning to make a perfect cup of tea is a skill that should be in your tea-drinking arsenal.
Sook Yee explained to me that three elements are involved in the making of tea: the water temperature, the amount of the tea leaf used and also the brewing time. For example, puer tea needs water at a high temperature, while oolong tea requires water at medium temperature. I also understood that the lighter the colour of the tea, the stronger it tasted, which is why green tea has a stronger taste as opposed to puer tea which is darker in colour but not as strong in terms of taste.
Mooncakes by virtue are sweet and they are best paired with tea. Much like yin and yang, the sweetness of the mooncake and the bitterness of the tea is a perfect gastronomic equilibrium. If the mooncake is strong in taste then one should balance it out with a tea that is lighter in flavor and vice versa. For example, oolong tea would go best with green tea crust with assorted nuts paste while the green tea would go best with the white lotus paste.
With this new found knowledge of tea and mooncakes, I’m certain that this coming Mooncake Festival I will be able to savour each bite of the tea mooncake alongside the tea that I’ve carefully brewed to perfection.
The mooncakes of Purple Cane are certified as Halal and also suitable for vegetarians, except for the Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mooncake. www.purplecane.my