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Tea Pleasures

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Tea Pleasures

YSWARA - pot setAyeni Adekunle is seated behind his desk at his Community Road, Allen Avenue office, working on some documents that need his attention. As the CEO of one of the country’s leading media solution providers, Blackhouse Media, he has many things competing for his attention daily. One of the ways he has been letting out the stress steam, he tells me, is to take green tea. It is not a surprise that inside the cabinet by his desk lays different flavours of the English tea, Twining Green tea and Qualitea made in Sri Lanka.
“I just like to take it because it is healthier,” he says. “I am an apostle of green tea. I like to take more healthy drink. I am very conscious of the kind of tea I take. It is when I want to spoil myself that I take hot chocolate drink, otherwise it is healthy to take green tea.”
Uti Nwanchukwu, TV host, also shares the same view with Ayeni. “I love green tea. I am 32 years old now; I need to be more conscious of my health. I take tea with plenty of honey.”
There is a growing culture of tea common these days among the middle class. This new lifestyle, experts in social behaviour say, can be attributed to the culture of luxury booming in the country and the change in the lifestyle of Nigerians.
According to them, the growing interest in tea in the country can be traced to contact with European culture, especially the British culture of the Afternoon Tea – otherwise known as High Tea today.
“High Tea means different things to different people,” explains Bimbo Akinigbagbe, who has lived in Britain for many years. “The origins of Afternoon Tea reveal that it is an exclusive preserve of the rich in the 19th Century Britain. At the time, for workers in the newly industrialised Britain, ‘tea’ had to wait until after work and it was usually more than just tea and cakes. Workers needed something to sustain them after a day of hard labour, so the after-work meal was more often hot and filling and accompanied by a pot of good, strong tea to revive dwindling spirits,” says Akinigbagbe.
According to her, the new found name of High Tea, for this ritual, differentiates between the Afternoon Tea served on low, comfortable, parlour chairs or relaxing in a garden and the worker’s High Tea served at the table with the workers seated on high back dining chairs.
Since then, lifestyles have changed. In some homes, afternoon tea is now a treat, rather than a stop-gap between lunch and dinner. Even hotels, like Radisson Blu, are imbibing this culture in their offerings with tea served with sandwiches, scones and cake. Tea is now a truly elegant respite offering of fine tea blends with sweet and savoury bites for hotel guests. Afternoon Tea offers an opportunity to connect with family and friends, allowing them to slow down, relax and enjoy the moment.
Some tea offerings include Champagne tea, which offers a twist to the tea tradition. A glass of Moet & Chandon can be added to tea. Children are not left out in the tea experience as there is Children’s Bubblegum Tea. The Children’s Tea offering includes Bubblegum Tea with other varieties served with finger sandwiches, fresh strawberries and cream, a giant chocolate chip cookie, mini jello and a seasonal fruit tartlet.
For those who are in the United Kingdom this summer, on the menu list at The Dorchester, UK, Afternoon Tea are savoury finger sandwiches, home-made scones and jam, and a selection of French pastries. Ice Cream Tea is available throughout August. The Dorchester is putting a modern twist to the traditional cream tea, with a selection of home-made mini ice creams.
And so, as a response to this demand, innovative luxury tea brands are emerging across the continent in countries like South Africa and Kenya where different tea leaves are grown. The Yswara tea range is one of the popular brands in Africa.
As a tea lover, the Yswara brand holds much appeal for me, and can appreciate the thought, care and attention to detail that has gone Yswara-Packaging-Design-Printing-2into creating an exceptional tea drinking experience. Inspired by the ancient tea drinking traditions across the African continent, and based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Yswara appoints itself as the ‘curator of precious African teas,’ creating a space to indulge in the luxury of taking the time to enjoy the tea drinking ritual, and the precious moments of life.
Swaady Martin-Leke, a native of Côte d’Ivoire and CEO, Yswara, is a tea lover herself. She says she created the Yswara tea range when she observes that Africa as a leading exporter of tea has no local luxury tea brands. She explains to Forbes magazine that the Yswara’s sophisticated tea infusions and blends are produced in small quantities in a process that involves ensuring only the best leaves are handpicked, sun dried and hand rolled.
Beautifully packaged in signature ebony and gold copper, and named after warriors, queens and mighty kingdoms, Yswara teas offer an adventurous journey into the legends and rich histories that have defined and captivated the continent for centuries.
For those who are connoisseurs of tea, explains Funmi Onajide, founder, Regalo, a luxury shop that stocks some of the rare blends of tea leaves, the Yswara tea leaves are inspired by personalities in Africa such as Oni of Ife, Queen Amina, Shaka Zulu, etc. There is another named Omoluabi. “We have accessories for tea, for the loose tea leaves. It has a strainer so it doesn’t get in the water. We also have the same in ceramic inlaid with white gold. They are very high end,” Onajide says.
Some of Yswara’s tea range includes the African Values Collection, among this is Teranga – made of Rooibos, Rukeri black tea and mocha. It is named after Senegal’s believe in hospitality as a way of life. “Teranga, the Wolof term for this belief,” writes Martin-Leke on Yswara’s website, “encompasses the honour, respect, generosity and blessings that hosts lavish upon their guests. They are welcomed with respectful greetings, share a humble feast and are invited to take part in the traditional ataya tea ceremony. By the end of the ceremony, both host and guest will have shared a moment of conviviality in the spirit of Teranga.”
Under the African Values Collection is Omoluabi – made of Rooibos, Coconut and Chocolate. It is named after the Yoruba parlance of Omoluabi, which refers to honour bestow upon an individual of impeccable character who represents the paragon of existence, dedicated to the development and vitality of the community. More importantly, the respectful title of Omoluabi goes beyond its bearer to celebrate the community that has so capably and conscientiously shaped such an individual.

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