South Africans missing their nicotine fix are investigating how to smoke tea

05 May 2020 - 14:19 By Suthentira Govender
One desperate smoker is drying tea leaves to bulk up her tobacco roll-ups.
One desperate smoker is drying tea leaves to bulk up her tobacco roll-ups.
Image: Supplied

Forget mampoer and pineapple beer, South Africans are now asking Google how to make their own cigarettes as government continues to outlaw the sale of tobacco products during level 4 of the lockdown.

Government's about-turn on the sale of cigarettes last week has seen some desperate smokers turn to the internet to search for methods how to make their own cigarettes. This includes the use of ingredients like tea leaves.

Levels of interest in concocting homemade cigarettes began on March 27, the start of the lockdown in SA. Google's data shows the most recent spike in interest happened on April 29. Most interest has come from the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

​Smokers have taken to social media platforms to lament about their plight and share ideas for alternative cigarette fixes, mainly with tea.

One smoker posted "teas you can smoke" on Facebook. 

"Smoking Earl Grey tea is smooth but heavy. You can compare it to pipe tobacco. Smoking green tea gives you mild relaxation and, thanks to caffeine, works as a mild pain reliever," the posts reads. 

"Black tea smoking is more tobacco-like as it is a bit harsh."

One smoker told TimesLIVE she is making her own "tea cigarettes".

"I can't afford the black market stuff so I'm making my own."

She is drying tea leaves to combine with her dwindling supply of tobacco to make rolled cigarettes. 

"I managed to get two packets of tobacco last week," she said.

"I drink loose leaf tea so I'm collecting all the tea leaves in a jar, drying them out and adding them to the tobacco to bulk it up.

"When I do run out of tobacco, I'm going to dry out tea leaves and add a bit of parsley. The only problem is I'm running out of the rolling papers I use to wrap the tobacco," she said.

"It's desperate times."


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