It’s official: tea is the new coffee of the masses.
When Wall Street start to write about it, then you know that tea is no longer merely ‘popular’ but has escalated to the status of a trend. Wall Street equate the growing ‘tea trend’ with the rise in ‘super foods’ like gogi-berries and acai berries from the Brazilian rain forests.
And why? Well, tea has all these associated health benefits. It’s a natural and healthier alternative to coffee, on the whole, has lower levels of cafeine, and each of the five different types of tea: black, white, green, oolong and puerh (no, I didn’t know about the puerh either) are healthy in different ways.
The health benefits are related to polyphenol antioxidant levels of tea. Experts are still undecided about exactly what combination of chemicals in tea produce the benefits, but they help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol amongst other health claims.
The other aspect promoting its growth is the interest in speciality teas. And if you have a look around you, you will notice that there are more tea cafés in Cape Town than there used to be.
O’ways lies on Dreyer Street, in amongst the hum of Cavendish in Claremont. The tea café has a devoted following amongst those who work in the area. Drinking tea at O’ways is something of an education, if you know little about tea, and even if you do there is quite a range to choose from. Lisa Tsai, the Taiwanese owner of the atmospheric tea spot, is a gem and a font of knowledge about her trade (even if she is a classical piano teacher by profession). And for those who can’t do without their coffee, O’ways also provide artisan Origin coffees. The light meals and snacks pair perfectly with the Nigiro teas. And you can do your tea or coffee takeout as well.
Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour
Lady Bonin’s tea caravan has become synonymous with trendy markets like the Neighbourgoods Market, and events like Rocking the Daisies. So for her fans the opening of her tea parlour in The Woodstock Exchange in Albert Street was something of a happening. She offers over 50 local and imported teas, sweet patisseries and light lunches, tea smoothies, honeys and a whole lot of tea ware like cast iron, porcelain and glass tea pots, mug infusers, and vintage tea cups. The demand Jessica Bonin created for loose-leaf tea whilst in her mobile caravan in and around Cape Town is now met at her little store. Visit for an eclectic experience.
Nigiro Tea House
Nigiro, for those who don’t know, is Origin spelled backwards. The Tea Merchants are at the back of the coffee roasters and coffee shop, Origin, in De Waterkant (they also provide teas to O’ways Teacafe) where you can experience a true Taiwanese High Mountain tea ceremony or simply sample the almost 200 fine loose-leaf teas available. The tea house has a modern Zen atmosphere, with no windows as the tea ceremony is a slowing down and forgetting about what is outside; a simple enjoyment of the art of tea. This mystical preparation of tea is well worth a first-hand experience for relaxation. Passing out again through the buzz of the coffee shop is sure to bring you back down to earth with a bump.
Cape Town’s offering would not be complete without mention of at least one of the places where High Tea is a tradition. The Mount Nelson Hotel offer loose leaf tea, supplied by Nigiro Tea Merchants (notice the underlying thread of Nigiro teas?), that include a blend of six teas that sometimes even use rose petals from the Mount Nelson’s own garden. To accompany your tea there is a smorgasbord of finger sandwiches, cakes, freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and preserves, and other mouth watering varieties like milk tart and lemon meringue that make this a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike.