Tea, glorious tea. Nothing is more appealing after a long day, or as fitting an accompaniment to a good book. If you’re looking for something a bit more exotic than English Breakfast, here are five spots to enjoy South African tea time.
Contessa Tea Connoisseur and Bistro, Johannesburg
Contessa stocks over 150 different teas, including the entire Twinings range, plus more than 20 imported loose-leaf teas. This sidewalk cafe is the spot to go if you’ve tasted tea overseas that you’re struggling to find locally. The tea house’s name, Contessa, came about due to a famous countess who lived in Italy in the late 1800s and had a reputation for hosting exotic tea parties. The shop’s ambiance is warm and inviting, with a menu that is simple but wholesome and fresh. They offer a range of homemade cakes baked on the premises daily, including the coconut and chocolate cake which is like a layered lamington in cake form — to die for. Tea tastings cost R75 per person and allow you to taste six different varieties, including classic black, flavoured black, oolong, green, white, and tisane. Instructions guide you through the different steps of infusion and flavour for you to enjoy at your leisure.
Shop 2a, Cnr Rivonia Blvd & 11th Ave, Rivonia, Johannesburg. Call 011 234 6641. Open Mon-Fri 07:30-16:30; Sat 08:00-15:00.
Tibetan Tea House, Simon’s Town
Set in a gorgeous old house, this quaint spot has breathtaking views over False Bay, and is an ideal spot for whale watching. Food is vegan or vegetarian, and prepared from original Tibetan recipes. Sip Tibetan butter tea from a delicate wooden teacup — according to Tibetan folklore, drinking from a wooden cup makes you “handsome, popular, and wise!” Herbal teas are prepared i- house and made from fresh herbs such as lemongrass, basil, and mint. Once you’re done with your tea, amble over to the Sophea Gallery, which specialises in spiritual art, and runs regular exhibitions according to various themes. The gallery also houses a wide selection of Tibetan art and artifacts. For the ultimate in relaxation, try their weekly meditation sessions.
2 Harrington Road, Seaforth, Simon’s Town. Call 021 786 1544. Open Tue- Sun 10:00-17:00.
Luvey ‘n Rose, Cape Town
Luvey ‘n Rose is an art studio and coffee shop, and one of the few places in South Africa where you can find one of the best brands of tea in the world: TWG (The Wellness Group). Established in Singapore but served worldwide, TWG has tea tasters who travel thousands of kilometers across the world in search of the most desirable harvests direct from tea gardens. The result is a selection that spans 800 single estate fine harvest teas and exclusive blends. TWG tea uses 100% cotton material and thread, transferring flavours directly to the teacup, instead of having a paper teabag “drink” some of the flavour. Enjoy your favourite brew with a piece of shortbread or croissant — heavenly.
21 Rose Street, Cape Town. Call 083 557 5156. Open Mon – Fri 07:00-18:00, Sat & Sun 08:00 – 14:00.
The Tea Merchant, Johannesburg
Specialising in teas from around the world, but predominantly from China’s Fujian province, The Tea Merchant is the perfect place to find exotic and rare teas along with tea accessories. They stock green, white, fruity, and traditional black teas sourced directly from farmers and blended in Europe, ensuring the highest quality possible. The Tea Merchant is not a traditional sit down café, but does offer tea tastings. You can also purchase teapots which are available in a vast selection of glass, cast iron, porcelain, and stainless steel. Teas can be sourced on request for customers and delivered to your door with free shipping for orders over R500.
7th Avenue, Parktown North., Johannesburg. Call 011 447 9307. Open Mon-Fri 08:30-16:00.
A proudly African brand, and the first to offer a curated experience of fine African teas, YSWARA‘s luxury collection harnesses the ancient belief that plants have healing powers. The shop has a range of hand-selected teas sourced from the rolling hills of Rwanda to the misty peaks of Malawi. If you are searching for the most lavish, try Or Des Anges, a fusion of Malawian peony white tea with 22-carat edible gold petals. The collection also includes a range called Seven Wonders of Africa, offering seven of the best teas on the continent. There are a few exotic blends available to try too: one of the best is Omoluabi, a blend of rooibos, choco drops, coco rasps, cream, whiskey, mocha, and toffee. YSWARA is stocked at the Luminance boutique department store, situated in Hyde Park Shopping Centre, Johannesburg.
57 6th Street, Parkhurst, Johannesburg. Call 010 590 1274. Open Mon – Sat 09:00 – 17:00.