Tea Time

Text Bianca Packham Photographs Claire Gunn Photography Purveyor of fine teas from her famous retro caravan and Woodstock store, Jessica Bonin of Lady Bonin's Tea Parlour not only knows her teas but her teacups as well. We chat to this tea-lover about her personal cup collection and find out why teacups are just as important as their contents. How and why did you get into the business of tea? Tea chose me. I was desperately searching for a life career that allowed me to share my passions with people and provide a space where imaginations can run wild and worlds can be explored. Tea became the medium for this. You're clearly passionate about the slow-brewed hot beverage, so it stands to reason that you’ve used and seen a fair share of teacups. Do you have a particular teacup preference? I prefer a porcelain teacup with a slightly deep bowl and consistent circumference. This allows the tea to maintain its heat, while the porcelain is gentle on the flavour. How do teacups enhance the experience of tea-drinking over, say, your average mug? In a mug the water can become stagnated and cold. If you drink from a teacup, each sip is as delicious and consistent as the last. What teacups do you use in Lady Bonin's Tea Parlour? I have a collection of over 50 teacups, some individual, some as sets. I have spent over two years building up my collection and it is predominantly vintage. The cups are all made to complement the tea-drinking experience. There are some that hold so much history and others that are full of fun. It is a subtle addition that adds wonders to the experience. My love for tea is rooted in its connection to worlds and histories, and the teacups I've collected remain true to this love. Should different teas be served in different ways? Certain teas are most certainly enhanced by the methods and equipment used to serve them. Cast Iron for example triggers certain effects in green and oolong teas, whereas porcelain tea cups are gentle on black teas, allowing their malty flavour to be unhindered. Where do you source teacups for Lady Bonin's Tea Palour? Wherever the road takes me. I collect from antique stores and markets. A lot of them have been gifts, beautiful handed down teaware that was unused and looking for a loving home. Do you have a teacup collection at home? My whole collection has been merged in my shop. I am on the hunt for a new one! Do you have a 'dream' tea service, local or international? My dream is to service South Africa. Local is lekker and I really want to interact with, grow and work with my community close to home and at large. Where is your favourite place to enjoy a cup of tea? Perusing my garden first thing in the morning with my animals. Lady Bonin's Tea Parlour sells over 25 base teas sourced both locally and internationally. New offerings on the horizon include raw foods and tea flavoured ice cream; cast-iron, glass and porcelain teapots; travel mugs and infusers. For more information visit