Coffee? Tea? Tea!
“If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.” William Gladstone got it right just like the Chinese: “Rather three days without food than a day without tea.” Surprise, surprise, there is a tea culture in Cape Town. From High and Afternoon Teas to a tea caravan – Cape Town has the right tea spot for you.
High Tea/Afternoon Tea
The Mount Nelson Hotel - daily Morning Tea from 9.30am – 12.30pm as well as Afternoon Tea from 2:30pm – 5.30pm with live music
• Drinks: A varied array of leaf and flowering teas from Nigiro Tea Merchants including the signature Mount Nelson Tea, a blend from six teas with rose petals out of the Mount Nelson’s very own garden.
• Snacks: Delicate finger sandwiches filled with rare roast beef and rocket, smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise or cucumber, delectable dark chocolate cake, heavenly lemon meringue, freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and preserves, typical South African milk tart.
• Price: Morning Tea: R105 per person, R60 per child under 12; Afternoon Tea: R165 per person, R85 per child under 12
76 Orange Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 483 1948
Table Bay Hotel V&A – daily Mad Hatters high tea from 2.30pm to 5.30pm
• Drinks: A selection of fresh house teas, specialised coffees and homemade ice tea.
• Snacks: Blueberry muffins, raisin scones, homemade jams, lemon curd and Chantilly clotted cream, chocolate-peanut butter cake, red velvet cup cakes etc. Plus, something a little spicy: roasted parsnip, mushroom and cheese quiche or smoked salmon and asparagus quiche.
• Price: R160 per person
Quay 6 | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 406 5918
One&Only - high tea daily from 2.30pm – 5.30pm
• Drinks: Selection of 35 teas, representing eight different tea families: Oolong, green, black, white, infused and fruit teas.
• Snacks: A three tier-stand with chocolate delice, baked vanilla bean cheesecake, caramel and gold leaf éclairs, tea loaf, macaroons, tea sandwiches and fine buttermilk scones.
• Price: R145 per stand weekdays excluding tea/coffee, R145 per person on weekends, inclusive of tea/coffee
V&A Waterfront | Dock Road | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 431 5800
Grande Provence - high tea on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm – 5pm
• Drinks: A selection of the Revolution tea range: Earl Grey lavender, tropical green, golden chamomile herbal, English breakfast, southern mint herbal, white pear, sweet ginger peach, Bombay Chai, dragon eye Oolong.
• Snacks: Freshly baked scones served with homemade plum preserve and whipped cream, chocolate mousse cake, carrot muffins, smoked salmon sandwiches.
• Price: High tea platter R95 for 2 people
Main Road | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 8600
Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa – daily traditional high tea from 10am – 5pm
• Drinks: Dilmah teas with a variety of flavours to choose from, including vanilla, almond, Moroccan mint and others including all the standards teas; Cap Classique.
• Snacks: Scones with cream and preserve, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, salmon and cream cheese sandwiches, sweet pastries, baked cheesecake with berry compote and carrot cake with cream cheese and roasted hazelnut topping.
• Price: R95.00 – R195.00
Minor Road 16 | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 8900
Grande Roche Hotel – daily high tea from 3pm – 5 pm
• Drinks: 21 different teas sourced from various suppliers and filter coffee.
• Snacks: Sweet and savoury stands including chocolate dipped fruit, home made mini scones, chocolate brownie, apple crumble, fruit tartlets, profiteroles, cucumber sandwiches, ham & cheese sandwiches, Parma ham, olives, sun dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.
• Price: R95 per person
Plantation Street | Paarl | +27 (0)21 863 5100
Taj – daily high tea from 3pm – 6pm
• Drinks: A selection of 20 different loose leaf teas (including Rooibos loose leaf tea) from Nigiro Tea Merchants, hot beverages such as chili-hot chocolate.
• Snacks: Chocolate eclairs, choc-chip scones, chocolate cake and other delectable chocolate delights.
• Price: R120 per person
Wale Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 819 2000
Vineyard Hotel – daily high tea from 12pm -3pm
• Drinks: A wide variety of Twinings and Dilmah teas: Ceylon, pure Rooibos, Earl Grey, Green Tea, Natural, Jasmine, Lemon, Oolong, pure chamomile flowers, pure Peppermint, English breakfast, organic tea, Lady Grey, Ginger spice, Blackcurrant, Peach, Lemon, Vanilla, Raspberry, Four red fruits etc..
• Snacks: A tray with a selection of finger sandwiches, vegetarian quiche, mini chocolate tart, lemon cupcake, mini fruit tartlet, poppy seed cake, coconut ice, Turkish delight, baked passion fruit cheesecake, scone with homemade strawberry jam, cream and cheese.
• Price: R95 per person
54 Colinton Road | Newlands | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 657 4500
12 Apostles Hotel – traditional high tea and Chocolate Tea by the Sea daily from 2pm – 6pm
• Drinks: Dilmah Tea: Earl Grey, Rooibos, English Breakfast, Ceylon tea, strawberry, peppermint and caramel flavoured tea, coffees, rich hot chocolate.
• Snacks: Scones, clotted cream, lemon meringue tartlets, cupcakes, mini koeksisters, finger sandwiches, Almond strawberry cupcakes, selection of biscuits, chocolate brownie, cream scones with strawberry jam, éclairs, glazed fruit tartlets, macaroons, chocolate extravaganza.
• Price: Traditional high tea R165 per stand for two, Chocolate Tea by the Sea R185 per stand for two
Victoria Road | Camps Bay | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 437 4015
The Cape Grace – daily high tea from 11am – 6pm
• Drinks: Different teas sourced from various suppliers, different coffees and Graham Beck sparkling rosé.
• Snacks: Finger sandwiches, sugar buffet and hot Malay savouries (spring rolls, beef stays, etc.).
• Price: Traditional: R75 per person; Sugar buffet: R12/item; Sugar and bubbles: R110 per person; Sugar and spice: R110 per person
West Quay Road | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 410 7100
NH The Lord Charles Hotel – daily afternoon tea from 2pm – 5pm
• Drinks: 10 different Dilmah Teas and filter coffee.
• Snacks: Daily changing mini buffet offering savoury and sweet options such as finger sandwiches, scones and different types of cakes.
• Price: R65 per person
Corner Main Road (M9) & Broadway Boulevard (R44) | Somerset West | +27 (0)21 855 1040
MannaBay – high tea daily from 4pm – 5pm
• Drinks: Twinings tea: Earl Grey, Ceylon, Rooibos, Peppermint, Camomile, Four fruits.
• Snacks: Freshly baked savouries, chocolate and carrot cakes and cup cakes.
• Price: Only for in-house guests
1 Denholm Road | Oranjezicht | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 461 1094
Nigiro Tea Merchants - ‘Anytime is Tea Time’ at Origin Coffee Roasting & Nigiro Tea from Monday to Friday 8:30am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am – 2pm
• Drinks: 180+ teas sourced from various parts of the world: China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, Egypt, Turkey, Czech Republic and Greece. Green, White, Show Tea, Oolong, Black, Red, Fruit Infusion, Herbal Infusion and Rooibos.
• Snacks: Dim Sum, a vegetables and soya mince filled and wholesome bun; Zong zi – two bamboo leaves filled with sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, peanuts and soya mince. Alternatively there are breakfast and lunch options.
• Price: The loose teas can range from R49 (per 100g) to the most delicate green tea which costs about R305.
28 Hudson Street | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 421 1000
Lady Bonin – travels to different markets (e.g. youmeandeveryoneweknow market, Boulders Market), festivals and events
• Drinks: Loose-leaf teas as take-away hot teas or ice-teas, fresh daily blends; 23 different loose-leaf teas: blended black, Black, Green, White, Oolong, Flavoured Black Teas, Fruit Infusions, Herbal in glass jars sourced from their countries of origin and locally: China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, South America, Russia, UK, South Africa; blends to requests on site.
• Snacks: Cupcakes, delicacies and other savories treats that compliment each tea.
• Price: R15 for all teas and blends as a drinking capacity, Snow Lotus R40 drinking capacity. The jar prices vary between R35 and R85.
Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)83 628 2504
Oways – the tea cafe is open from Monday to Friday 7.30am – 5pm, Saturdays from 9am – 2pm
• Drinks: Over 66 teas from Nigiro Tea Merchants (engage with the tea maker on the tea counter).
• Snacks: Cold and warm kitchen, tea and coffee inspired foods from East and West for food pairing with tea and coffee.
• Price: Average food (single serving of breakfast, lunch and dessert courses) is about R35, a medium sized pot of tea is R25 with teapot warmer, hourglass and correct temperatured water.
Shop 2 | Heritage House | 20 Dreyer Street | Claremont | +27 (0)21 671 2850
Rhodes Memorial Restaurant and tea garden - open seven days a week from 9am – 5pm, high teas on request
• Drinks: Black tea, Earl Grey, Herbal, organic Rooibos, light Buchu tea and Lavazza coffee. • Snacks: Cakes (they have had the same baker for 25 years using tried and tested recipes): apple crumble, milk tart, brandy pudding, scones, muffins and lemon meringue.
• Price: R25 and up
Rhodes Memorial Restaurant | Table Mountain Nature Reserve | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 689 9151
Tibetan Tea House (Sophea Gallery) – open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am – 5pm
• Drinks: The two most popular teas are the home made spiced Chai and Tibetan salty butter tea. They serve these in traditional Tibetan wooden teacups as Tibetan folklore states that “drinking tea from a wooden cup makes you handsome, popular and wise!” Also on offer: an excellent range of imported organic black, white and green teas, fruit infusions and flavoured rooibos teas that are sourced from a supplier who has made sure that organic is truly organic and that fair-trade principles are applied. Fresh herb teas and infusions from herbs such as rose geranium, lemon geranium and lemon grass organically grow in their own garden.
• Snacks: The emphasis is on ‘kind food’ and offers delicious vegan and vegetarian food based on Tibetan recipes. Despite the fact that Tibetans don’t really eat cakes the sweet toothed among us are well catered for with all vegan egg-free sweets menu. Scones, chocolate cake, apple crumble with vegan cream or ice-cream, lemon cupcakes which include a gluten free, egg free, wheat free version.
• Price: Meal prices vary from R35 – R58, teas from R12-R17 and cakes from R15-R23
2 Harrington Road | Seaforth | Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 1544
Kirstenbosch Tea Room – daily afternoon tea from 8.30am – 5pm
• Drinks: Dilmah teas with a variety of flavours to choose from, including Ceylon, Earl Grey, peppermint, camomile, Green tea, ginger etc.
• Snacks: Cucumber and cream cheese or egg sandwiches on either white or wholewheat bread, mini spinach-and-feta quiches, home-made scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and one cake.
• Price: R140 for two
Gate 2 | Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens | Rhodes Drive | Newlands | +27 (0)21 797 4883
Another beautiful tea-spot on sunny days is Tea under trees in Paarl. It’s a beautiful garden, almost park that offers several teas and a dreamy vintage environment. Contact Debbie Redelinghuys (+27 (0)82 825 5666) for more information.
by Antonia Heil
written for capetownmagazine.com
Nigiro Tea Merchants bring tea culture to Cape Town
… a story I wrote for www.capetownmagazine.com
That Cape Town is a coffee town, that we know. But where the heck is the tea-culture? Only at the Mount Nelson Hotel’s afternoon tea? This is how I got to know Nigiro Tea Merchants –located at the back of coffee roasters and coffee shop Origin. (Nigiro is Origin spelled backwards.) Owner Joel Singer met tea master, Mingwei Tsai in 2009 and both quickly decided it was time to bring tea to Cape Town, since “Coffee and tea complement each other”.
“Coffee and tea are opposite to each other at times. Where coffee is an energetic, loud and extroverted drink, tea is more of an introvert with its beautiful curves and colours.” tells me Mingwei Tsai, who is full of tea-passion. “Tea people are soft people and generally have tea-friends. And tea-friends are friends for life.” As nothing seems unusual anymore, people want to know the story, the origin and benefit of things, Nigiro is a good spot to dig a bit deeper into the tea-scene.
Cape Town, it’s tea time
Spending some time at Nigiro with tea merchant Nehemia Simons and owner Mingwei Tsai I find out that Nigiro opened in March 2009 and has brought real loose tea to South Africa. They started off with 120 different teas, and today they offer around 200 teas, and there’s still more to come.
Nehemia and I start off with the traditional Chinese way of drinking tea, just like the old folks did, the High Mountain Tea Ceremony on a specially sculptured stone table. The idea: slowing down while forgetting about the outside life and simply enjoying the art of tea. Nigiro is the perfect space for forgetting the outside: there are no windows, Nigiro is a glass box at the back of Origin with calming music, aromas and a soft water feature.
The High Mountain Tea ceremony is definitely an interesting experience for tea-lovers that are interested on how things were done ‘back then’. “We have adopted the true art of drinking tea according to traditional Chinese and Taiwanese methods, creating a mystical way of preparing tea with the usage of special tea equipment such as the terracotta clay pot, ‘aroma’ cup and ‘drinking’ cup. The aim of the ceremony is focused on the senses coupled with calming down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and allowing the tea to do the talking.” says tea merchant Nehemia who has lot’s of tea stories to tell. We have several infusions of the High Mountain Tea and concentrate on the flavour and the fragrance, while exchanging our thoughts.
It is an relaxing process, that’s for sure. The High Mountain Tea we are drinking is a Taiwanese Oolong tea that is grown 2000 feet above sea level (100g of High Mountain Tea cost you R165). Surely, the tea ceremony is also a good way to get your tea lesson. Did you know that Oolong teas are a world of green and black teas wrapped in one?
Water plays a big role at the ceremony, “Water is tranquilising” says Nehemia. Water is used, to warm up the cups, to seal the clay pot and of course, to make the tea. When you enter Nigiro, you step from the coffee world into the tea world via a water feature. “You basically wash your feet.” summarises Mingwei.
The quality of tea is in its making
‘How can I brew my tea right at home?’ is my question. First of all, buy quality tea, Nehemia says and then it’s all about the pot and the water. When the water boils in your kettle, it is round about 100° degrees hot. It depends on the tea, what the right temperature for infusion is, but it’s good to know with each 3-4 minutes, the water temperature drops up to 7° degrees. The clay pots are known as healthy pots for pure teas, and the all-rounder is the glass pot. The best water to use for tea-making is full-bodied spring water, but filtered water will do too.
An absolute ‘don’t’ for the Nigiro-tea-guys is adding milk and sugar to the tea. “Often it’s a habit. It’s like adding salt and pepper to a meal before even having tasted it.” says Mingwei and I decide to rethink my milk in my Earl Grey.
Over 200 teas to choose from
I also learn that there are only 50 acres of rooibos tea in South Africa. “It’s an unique product, not a commodity.” says Nehemia who’s mission is to tea-educate people. The top rooibos tea is exported overseas, but here you can try more than 10 different rooibos teas.
Besides the rooibos tea, the Nigiro teas are sourced from various parts of the world: China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, Egypt, Turkey, Czech Republic and Greece. Teas on offer are Green, White, Show Teas, Oolong, Black, Red, Fruit Infusion and Herbal Infusion. “And if we don’t have it, we can probably blend it.” assures Mingwei.
An outstanding and popular show tea is the Jasmin Dragon Phoenix Pearls, which is loved by women. The vanilla tea, rose tea as well as the earl grey with blue flowers are popular morning and breakfast black teas. ‘Source of happiness’, a tea with soft citrus flavours is a calming tea as well as the herbal sundown. If you’re looking for an uplifting tea, try the apple lapacho as well as the strawberry and vanilla rooibos tea. Health freaks, of course, go for the High Mountain Tea.
“Tea is like a museum”, says Mingwei. Indeed, there’s so much to see. Tea is a never-ending story.
by Antonia Heil
Nigiro Tea Merchants 28 Hudson Street | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 421 1000
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 08:30am – 5pm; Saturday & Sunday 09:00am – 2pm
Prices: tea prices ranging from R25 – R305 per 100g; High Mountain Tea Ceremony from R75pp – R175pp with additional options; other tea tastings from R60 – R145
PS: You can experience Nigiro’s tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, the One&Only, the Taj, at the wine estates Delaire, Tokara, Waterkloof and many other places.
More tea spots in Cape Town you find in my tea-spot overview (morning, afternoon and high teas in Cape Town and surrounds). Enjoy.
Hier gibt es meinen Artikel über das Teehaus Nigiro auf Deutsch.
Another exciting and passionate story I wrote for capetownmagazine.com
Jessica Bonin was the first in Cape Town to offer take-away quality teas
Ever wondered who’s behind that bohemian tea caravan ‘Lady Bonin’s tea parlour’? Yes, it’s another tea story, but tea stories are healthy and good for you, so here we go… I met tea lady Jessica Bonin for the first time at the end of December 2010 at the ‘You and Me & Everyone We Know Market’ in front of the Labia theatre on Cape Town’s Orange Street. ‘Finally’ I thought, finally someone who’s bringing some tea culture to Cape Town (next to all the lekker coffee shops) – and then I had a good cup of ice tea on a hot summer‘s day.
Lady Bonin’s mission: to revolutionise and modernise the tea drinking culture while at the same time providing an alternative to take-away coffee. Selling her goods from a bohemian caravan, Jessica introduced a mobile tea room to Cape Town and travels from market to market, and from festival to party.
The tea lady, Jessica Bonin, is originally from Joburg, studied drama and theatre in Grahamstown and came to Cape Town to work in film production. “Irregular times, and working in summer to stay financially liquid during winter was killing my soul,” she says. So 1,5 years ago, Jessica re-looked her situation and went on a business course.
What’s missing in Cape Town?
That was the question she asked herself. Jessica wanted to open a tea-café, but then had to look at what she could really afford – a caravan. Things quickly came together: having the idea in June 2010, things started moving in July and the caravan was found in November 2010 in Johannesburg. The tea parlour slash caravan is well in shape, dating from 1975, it’s painted beautifully with wallpaper inside and an outside display – it’s eye-candy, that’s for sure – there’s an easy-going vibe about the little dude…
“The caravan is just like my home is: bohemian chic with Eastern influences without limiting it,” says Jessica. The colours, the décor, the plants, the carpet with cushions in front of the caravan.. it will surely teach you that tea is a relaxing pastime. Take time and enjoy your cup in the caravan with Lady Bonin or in front of the caravan on the cushions.
“Since tea is often looked at as an elitist thing, the caravan makes it accessible,” says happy caravan-owner Jessica. Even though you will find Lady Bonin’s tea at more and more health-conscious cafés and stores, you will also find her at many markets.
The focus: quickly brewed take-away high quality loose-leaf teas in biodegradable packaging
Tea has always been a big part of Jessica’s life; time to spread the word. Even though the aim is still to have a tea-café, the caravan is a good way to check out the market. Jessica serves freshly brewed tea at her Lady Bonin’s tea parlour as take-aways (in biodegradable cups) or sit-down. The beautiful cups sourced from Milnerton market give the whole experience a nostalgic feel, but tea is in. That vintage and cool go hand-in-hand, we know already. And the name? “I always loved my surname and we are the only Bonin’s in South Africa.”
Lady Bonin offers 23 unblended loose-leaf teas in 50g glass jars 50g (20 cups worth) but also custom blends. Where did she learn her trade? “I’m self-taught, tea is a feeling for me, you put your love in it just like you would with a good meal.” I wonder what I would call a ‘tea-barista’ and Jessica tells me that ‘tea-master’ would be the proper term. Jessica sources her teas and tea equipment from all over the world. Her favourite tea and a best-seller is the Formosa Oolong Blossom (nutty citrus-y, smooth like drinking silk) and the Earl Grey Blue Flowers also has a good number of followers.
Tea lady Jessica receives amazing feedback; family and friends believe in her and push her to the next level. “I enjoy being passionate about something. It’s like being responsible for a vegetable garden. I love the fact that I am everywhere, people are open. And it’s good to know that I am ahead of the market..!”
In future, Lady Bonin will also offer tea associated products such as, tea-flavoured cupcakes, tea-bath-sacks, tea-ice-cream… Check out the traveling tea-caravan. It’s like a fairytale, of passionate people, where everything is healthy and good!
by Antonia Heil
PS: Visit Lady Bonin at the Boulders Market, every last Friday of the month at the You and Me & Everyone We Know Market at the Labia theatre on Orange Street, plus, check at the Wellness Warehouse for Lady Bonin’s teas – find a list of all the other markets on Lady Bonin’s website.
pix by Padraic O’Meara