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Tea culture blossoms in Cape Town
Learn the fascinating art of tea making + taste over 130 varieties at Nigiro Teacafe
Last updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2022
At Nigiro Teacafe, in Plumstead, it's all about the culture of tea making and drinking. There, you can taste 130 varieties, learn the art of tea making, and share a pot with the owner, who says his hope is to bring "tea, positive energy and relationships to the Western way of thinking".
Nigiro Tea is enjoyed at over 50 shops or locations around South Africa. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
UNDERSTAND THE CULTURE OF TEA
In the West, wine and coffee dominate the culture of drinking. In the East, it is tea that plays an extremely important role in the mindset and daily lives of people. Founder and owner, Mingwei Tsai says Nigiro Teacafe is all about revealing the broader culture around tea and his dream is that “one day [he] can share a pot, and therefore a connection, with every tea lover throughout South Africa.”
Nigiro Teacafe offers tea-tasting for a minimum of 2 people per session. Bookings are essential. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
LEARN THE ART OF TEA MAKING
The art of tea is in its making, says Mingwei. From the leaf and cultivar, the way it's processed, what mountain it's from, how the leaves were picked, (even what time of day they were picked) … and that's before you even think about teaware or how to brew your leaves. Which is why Nigiro makes this process simpler for you. All you need is some leaves, a kettle and a cup.
“The amazing energy in serving us and sharing information about teas and food and even history was excellent. Every minute we spent at Nigiro was a wonderful memory. Worth visiting again and again,” says a customer of Nigiro Teacafe.
Nigiro Teas has imported teas throughout South Africa for over 14 years. Image: Nigiro Tea
TASTE OVER 130 TEAS
“Different occasions with different friends and families will call for different types of teas,” says Mingwei, and with over 130 varieties and 18 categories, ranging from fruit- or herb-infused to oolongs and green, you will be spoilt for choice. There’s even a range of artistic Chinese show teas, which you can try in-store in a tea tasting or order online.
Filter through different tea varieties on the online store to find the perfect leaf for you. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
If you like Piña Coladas or French Kisses (yes, those are the names of the tea), you may love some of the flavour combinations . Some favorites include Cederberg Highveld Rooibos, made from ultra-high grade pure highland rooibos grown in the wild on the Cederberg Mountains, and Lady Grey, which has gentle bergamot flavours and a touch of Turkish rose that extends the creaminess of this black tea. If you are a newbie to the tea world, browse the online store for a full list, description and price of each tea variety.
Each tea is served in a specialized, loose-leaf glass teapot. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
TRY A TEA-INSPIRED VEGETARIAN MENU
Although tea drinking and tea appreciation in South Africa is young, it is growing with great potential. Nigiro Teacafe not only offers a wide range of tea, but a tea-inspired food menu too. Each meal is designed to compliment a recommended tea.
There’s a honeybush poached egg in a crêpe paired with a liquorice-coco herbal infusion or Taiwanese-style, ramen noodle soup paired with Osmanthus Oolong. There’s even a tea dim-sum pairing with traditional, vegan Taiwanese gua bao (steamed bun) for a minimum of 2 people.
Nigiro Teacafe is vegetarian with vegan and gluten-free options. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
If you want to take a little piece of Nigiro home with you, you can purchase the teas as well as a selection of tea-making equipment. Different teaware calls for different occasions, and it ranges from glass and cast iron to porcelain and terracotta teapots. “Each teapot carries its own unique energy, reflected in its name and style. When we invite others to drink tea with us, it is like extending our family,” says Mingwei.
Each teapot is named after a family member in isiXhosa language from Eastern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa. Image: Nigiro Teacafe
WHEN + WHERE TO GO
By Sarah Jarvis
DISCOVER MORE TEA, TASTINGS + THINGS TO DO
Try one of these wine tastings with a difference.
Go for a Turkish coffee pairing.
Taste local wines for free, every Friday.
Pair tea with gin, nougat + kids’ tea tasting and roosterkoek.
Visit new places around the city.
Stay busy this weekend with one of 7+ Things To Do.