Diners worldwide are starting to seek quality and authenticity and for this reason, like with many other ingredients, tea is no longer just tea. The new fuss around this ancient aromatic drinks stems from the craft movement, and we’ve quickly seen how specialty teas no longer just feature as beverages, but are now very much part of a menu.
Where before it was traditional to pair food with wine, many chefs now offer the same experience with tea. While marrying tea with food is still an evolving art, places like The Test Kitchen has the option of a wine or a tea pairing with Luke Dale-Roberts’ set menu of choice. Creation Wines, based just outside Hermanus, also have a tea pairing option.
In light of the popularity of this drink, a few authentic spots around Cape Town and Johannesburg have started to offer traditional tea ceremonies. Below are three of our favourites.
O’ways Teacafé offers special tea tastings, a tea appreciation course as well as a guided tea tour. They serve a wide range of Nigiro teas and infusions, from green teas to unique South African Rooibos blends. Tip: Mingwei, owner of O’Ways and main importer of Nigiro products, is a tea master. Ask him anything.
Lady Bonin’s Tea Bar
The tea lady, Jessica, aka Lady Bonin, is the owner of Lady Bonin’s Tea Bar, based in Long Street, Cape Town. Tea is her passion and her practice. She has years of experience in the tea industry and blends and distributes organic loose-leaf teas sourced directly from farms that use sustainable farming practices and are community-driven.
Jessica started her tea business in 2010, selling take-away tea out of a caravan around Cape Town. This was such a hit that she had to open in a more permanent location, which used to be at the Woodstock Exchange and is now in the popular Long Street.
Apart from their loose-leaf tea distribution business consisting of over 45 uniquely blended teas, they also sell delectable tea-infused treats and a wide selection of teas, such as Pumpkin Chai Lattes, Matcha Lattes, and Morocco Choco Minto Lattes at their Long Street tea bar.
Lady Bonin’s Tea Bar is currently slightly too small to host tea ceremonies, but they are busy creating a proper tea room, where authentic tea ceremonies will be held. They hope to have it ready by December 2016. Keep an eye on their social media channels, as this should be quite an experience.
YSWARA brings new heights of sophistication to tea ceremonies with its beautiful tea creations. Apart from its exquisite range of tea accessories, the brand also has the world’s largest selection of African teas. Teas are sourced from all over the continent, from Rwanda to Malawi and the Cape. The tea leaves are handpicked and sun-dried. Thereafter, the blends are artistically composed by Swaady, the founder of YSWARA, herself.
YSWARA just opened a flagship store and an Afro-zen tea room in The Cosmopolitan building in Maboneng. The tea room is kitted out in the signature YSWARA rose gold and desert pink colours that reflect the company’s pan-African spirit. The store will be serving tea from the beginning of October and will have regular tea ceremony events. A special tea ceremony service is available only for special occasions and must be booked. This includes a specialised menu, a selection of teas and a sublime selection of decor options incorporating splendid flower arrangements and elegant accessories. A minimum of 15 guests is required for the tea ceremonies and the service is currently only available in Johannesburg.
Find inspiration on tea accessories in our October 2016 issue