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Tue Sep 02 16:02:53 SAST 2014

Take the time for this tea

jackie May | 29 November, 2012 00:34

There is an art to making tea - and to drinking it - that not many of us care to practise. A teabag of an unknown source that is thrown into a cup of hot water usually suffices for a rushed tea break.

But Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and poet, once wrote: "Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life."

Swaady Martin-Leke would concur. She has launched her new range of African teas, Yswara, and today her shop opens in Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Johannesburg. It's where you'll find a fine selection of teas that she has blended.

"I have made 23 teas. Only 16 are flavoured and the rest are orthodox teas."

Martin-Leke was driven by the observation that, despite Africa being a leading exporter of teas, ''no good tea was coming out of Africa".

"We are curating the best African teas. Many are made from traditional recipes."

How does she know when a blend is good?

''It has to look and smell good. Also, it has to taste as good as it smells."

A few weeks ago, Martin-Leke made me a cup of tea in her showroom.

Using a special tea-measuring spoon made from a jacaranda pod and a twig of rooibos, she put a spoonful of her Abla Pokou mix into a glass teapot and left it to draw. The tea is a mix of vanilla honeybush, lemongrass and liquorice root served without milk or sugar. The rich golden liquid is a tribute to the strength of Queen Abla Pokou, who led her people to peace and prosperity, according to Yswara's site.

By giving her tea blends African names, Martin-Leke wants ''Africans to [reclaim] their history and heritage".

  • Yswara is at Hyde Park Corner, www.yswara.com

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