The Tea Merchant commenced importing tea into South Africa some four years ago in order to satisfy a small group of tea lovers. Commencing as a home operated business, The Tea Merchant has become synonymous in the South African tea industry with the finest quality loose leaf tea to be had.
Kusmi Tea was officially launched at The Tea Merchant’s Melrose Arch shop by Her Excellency, Madame Elisabeth Barbier, Ambassador of France in South Africa. I was honoured to be a guest at this event and to experience the stylish French design and modern innovation of the Tea Merchant’s latest offering.
“French Gastronomy, including foods but also beverages, is a living entity, a tradition that has cemented French society throughout the centuries, uniting the entire population.”
The teas are sold as looseleaf tea in beautiful baroque style tin canisters, reminiscent of the Czarist times.
Guests were welcomed with Tea journals and oysters, as well as a selection of beverages. I love how details were kept at a minimal, allowing the classic packaging of the teas to be the star of this show.
Oysters were the order of the day, along with Amuse-bouche (single, bite-sized hors-d’œuvre) being generously distributed by the waiters on hand. The selection was a cleverly planned menu by the inimitable Vicky Crease.
The Tea Merchant’s lively display of the Ritzenhoff ‘Totally Tea’ gift box selection at the front of the store is feast to the eyes. These make for great gifting options just in time for Eid and Christmas! I love the playful designs on these and it’s a must-have for any tea aficionado!
These iced-tea syrups are great for the approaching Summer days. One bottle makes 6 liters, and are available in a variety of fruit flavours. I’d suggest topping it up with ice and pairing it with chopped fruit and bunches of fresh and fragrant mint leaves. With as little as 1.4 percent of sugar, these are great for those opting for a healthier lifestyle.
Co-owner, Belinda Tobiansky presented Madame Barbier the first Kusmi Hat Box to be brought into South Africa.
Guests were offered tastings of 4 of the Kusmi teas in an informal tasting session. Our glasses were regularly topped up with a selection of Kusmi’s most popular ranges.
It’s no secret that green tea is good for you, but Kusmi’s Beauty Beverage Detox tea takes it to the next level. This is a sweet, fruity blend of green tea, maté, rooibos, guarana, and dandelion, flavoured with a hint of grapefruit. This lovely blend is perfect for a beauty break, suggested to be drunk the entire day. Inspired by BB Creams, this tea offers the same nourishing and skin bettering powers. It uses a powerful combination of detoxifying, nourishing ingredients to hydrate and clarify the skin. We sampled this cold and I immediately picked up on the citrus notes. It’s slightly punchy and astringent but that later gave way to a pleasant fruity quality, with a cooling effect.
GREEN TEA WITH NANA MINT
My instinctive reaction when it comes to tea-tastings, has to be reaching for the herbal teas first. The astringency of Peppermint scented teas are light and pleasant, though I would be careful not to oversteep them one as it would get quite bitter. The aftertaste was lingering and somewhat perfumy but not overwhelmingly so. This is the tea used in Morocco to make the famous mint tea. Refreshing and thirst-quenching, it is also delicious drunk after meals. Ingredients: Thé vert de Chine aromatisé menthe nanah. Beautifully packaged in tins and boxes, they make for an pleasant on-the-counter eye experience!
The sweet taste of liquorice harmoniously goes together with the freshness of peppermint and the relaxing qualities of verbena. Rose hip is a red fruit well known for containing minerals and antioxidants. With it;s slightly acid taste, rose hip has apurifying effect on the body.
This is a tea that is traditionally served in India and Nepal with milk and sugar. It’s spices make it the ideal choice to accompany a light lunch.
All the Kusmi Teas are available in packs of 20 Muslin tea bags, 125g and 250g Metal tin as well as their selection of tea gift sets. I’d love to package these with an arrangement of good quality biscuits, chocolates to pair and an assortment of sweeteners. They would make for ideal end-of-year gifting for corporates.
The Essentials brings together 12 of Kusmi’s most popular creations. Perfect to try yourself or to give as a gift.
A box of 24 individually envelopped muslin tea bags with an assortment of Kusmi’s best teas. Prince Vladimir, Anastasia, Kashmir Tchai, St. Petersburg, Imperial Label for those who love Russian flavours. Be Cool and Detox, two of the most popular from our Wellness line. Organic Darjeeling N°37, Organic green Darjeeling and Russian Morning N°24 for discovering the classic blends. Spearmint green tea and Jasmine green tea will delight those who love flavoured green teas.
No need to hide these in the pantry!
The secrets of tea preparation, by Kusmi Tea
1. The water quality
It is essential to choose fresh water with a low mineral content. The ideal is to use spring water or perhaps filtered water. It is also best to boil it in a kettle, because water heated in a pan can easily be tainted by the taste of the food previously cooked in this receptacle.
2. The water temperature
The golden rule about water temperature is never use boiling water on the tea, whatever kind of tea you are making.
Green Teas require water at 70°C and black teas require water at 85-90°C.
These days you can get kettles which enable you to choose your water temperature.
3. The teapot
If you are making your tea in a teapot, it is advisable to scald it first, i.e. pour boiling water into the pot, rinse it and throw the water away.
There are two kinds of teapots:
- Terracotta teapots which are said to have a “memory” because they retain the flavour of the tea already made in them. It’s best to have a different teapot for each kind of tea, so that you don’t mix up the flavours. After use, the teapot should merely be rinsed out, without scrubbing it or using any detergent, and then left to dry with the lid off. This kind of teapot is very suitable for black teas and Oolong teas;
- Ceramic, metal, porcelain teapots, which can be washed in hot water (without detergent). These are more versatile because they don’t absorb the flavours of the teas.
4. The amount of tea
Custom dictates that 3 grams are sufficient for one cup. But the amount is partly a matter of preference. In the case of Assam tea, which is naturally very robust, you might want to reduce the strength and brew 2 grams instead of 3.
5. The brewing time
This is a very important step in the art of tea-making. In fact, the brewing time varies depending on the type of tea. An over-brewed black tea will develop a bitter taste whilst an under-brewed white tea will be flat and insipid.
Black teas are normally brewed for 2-3 minutes, green teas for 3 – 4 minutes. It is a good idea to check the brewing time before making the tea, because some teas need to be infused for very specific times: for example, Jade Pearl is left to infuse for 7 – 20 minutes, whilst Oolong tea will need 5 – 7 minutes for its bouquet to develop fully.
Brewing is normally done with a lid on, so that the tea retains all its aromas.
With an entire wall of fashion tea available for your perusal, it’s essential to take your time – and I’d recommend so to.
Available exclusively at The Tea Merchant
Melrose Arch Store
Melrose Arch Shopping Centre | Corner Corlett Drive and M1 Highway, Melrose | Johannesburg
Operating Hours: Weekdays 09:00 – 18:00 | Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 | Sunday 09.00 – 16.00
Store contact number: 011 684 1008
There are 7 other stores across South Africa, and they offer a delivery service within 3-5 days.