In the West, coffee and wine have conquered the culture of drinking. But in the East, it is tea that holds the highest esteem in the day-to-day culture of its people. While tea drinking and tea appreciation in South Africa is still quite young, the tea scene in Cape Town – the city where wine, coffee and tea come together in harmony – is blooming with great potential.
Here are four gems in Cape Town that every tea lover simply has to visit:
Nigiro Tea Café
Do you remember that little tea café called O’ways that used to be outside Cavendish in that unassumingly vibrant little piece of land? It’s still pretty vibrant thanks to the likes of Nuri sushi and Jack’s Bagels but the glass-encased quaint tea cafe with its touch of serendipity will forever be missed.
That is until you realise it’s simply been reborn in Plumstead as Nigiro Tea Café, with the same touch of serendipity where the artistic culture of tea making and drinking is alive and well.
There you can taste 18 categories and over 130 varieties of teas, indulge in their tea-inspired food menu boasting an array of vegan or vegetarian dishes with its perfectly paired tea recommendation, or delight in a Chinese Flower Bud tea experience as you watch the unraveling of a beautiful flower enclosed in tea leaves inside a glass teapot.
And if you’d like to take a little piece of Nigiro home with you, their tea ranges and a selection of tea ware is available for purchase. Every first Saturday of the month, you can join the tea club and learn about the art of tea making while exploring the wonders of specially selected teas.
- Location: 71 Gabriel Road, Plumstead
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 5 pm | Saturday 9 am to 3 pm | Sunday 9 am to 2 pm
- Website: nigiro.co.za
Enmasse Tea Merchants
Founded in 2011 with a mission to elevate the art and culture of tea drinking with their passion and innovative tea blending skills, Enmasse Tea Merchants have done just that and more.
They have 18 different types of carefully curated loose teas to choose from and a timer to brew it to your taste bud’s perfection. All their teas are blended in Cape Town and wherever feasible, they do their best to source products locally.
Enmasse Tea Merchants have revolutionised the tea game for tea lovers, chocolate lovers and those unable to pick a side with locally handcrafted tea chocolates. Combining the fragrant essence of tea with the decadence of milk, white, and dark chocolate.
But that’s not all. They have also created soul-warming magic in a cup: a brothy soupy flavour-explosive moreish meal by combining speciality teas with small batches of dehydrated soup ingredients. Tea soup, who would have thought?
- Location: 125 Hope Street, Gate 2, Gardens
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday 8 am to 7 pm | Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 7 pm
- Website: enmassetea.co.za
Jasmine Tea Mill
If you ever find yourself venturing about in Somerset West, your venture will be incomplete without a trip to Jasmine Tea Mill. From oolong, pu-er and herbal teas to white, black and green teas, this friendly neighbourhood Chinese tea shop has everything a tea-lover could possibly desire. Not to mention an extensive range of glass, bamboo, ceramic and cast iron tea ware and accessories.
If you’re closer to the city, you don’t have to worry about suffering any kind of FOMO, you can find Jasmine Tea Mill at the Oranjezicht Market every weekend (if you manage to spot mini Krillin from Dragon Ball Z, you’ll know you’re at the right place).
- Location: Shop 1 Twin Oaks Centre, 144 Main Road, Somerset West
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday 9 am to 3 pm | Saturday 9 am to 12 pm
- Website: teamill.co.za
Mainland China Food Market
Not only is Mainland China Food Market a well-stocked super convenient one-stop supermarket for all your Asian food, snack, fresh or dried ingredient and utensil needs but they also have some designated spots in the shop dedicated to cater for the needs of all tea lovers on a budget.
From jars upon jars of loose tea leaves and boxes of tea-bagged leaves to an array of teapots of all kind, tea sets, cups, saucers and any tea accessories you can think of.
- Location: 12 Grove Avenue, Claremont
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday 9 am to 5.30 pm | Saturday 9 am to 4.30 pm | Sunday 10 am to 2 pm