Author: Reitumetse Pitso
The month of January had parents hopping in and out of uniform and stationery shops around the city, ticking off purchases on lengthy school-requirement lists, if not trying to strike bargain purchases.
Tertiary institutions are abuzz and tense as they try to manage an influx of prospective students who were bluffed with promises of free-tertiary education in late December. Students from poorer backgrounds are pushing late applications after their hopes to peruse studies for ‘free’ were raised.
They patiently wait in snake-long queues, shaded under shared umbrellas, with the sun weighing on their resilience.
Amid this “back to school” rush, anxiety, and frustration, in a tea shop at a Pretoria mall, a group of second-year culinary students flex their pallets at tea tasting.
They huddle curiously, dressed in their chefs’ whites, and listen attentively to the tea master who gives them a synopsis of the history of different teas, accessories used to brew then followed by a tasting session of the various teas.
There is clearly more to tea. It’s not just black tea because of there being no milk but, its leaves are picked from the bottom part of the tea-tree, were exposed sunlight, and dried longer. While white tea doesn’t exactly mean there was the luxury of milk, the leaves formed the top part of the tea tree, exposed to minimal sunlight, and make the purest and quality tea. There are also herbal, green, fruit and oolong teas, all coming with their unique aromas, tastes, and some, health benefits.
The budding chefs are colourful in describing their tasting experience. Ship-Ahoy black tea, a relaxant, “smells like the pastry kitchen”, Chai tea tastes like butter cup cookies, Icy Wind smells like “the taste of wine gums” while Gun-Powder tea is rolled up like gunpowder, looks like Chardonnay wine, but is not explosive on the pallet. Toronto-Nights white tea tastes like cake, looks like water “with a dash of something” and, helps with constipation and weight-loss.
The fruit teas were an experience of a flower garden, leaving one craving for desserts, pastries and, a relaxing bubble bath while Purple-black tea from Kenya tasted bitter – like a brew of a traditional medicine.
The class of mostly- white students is radiant and enthusiastic about the practice of tea making and, like young-science students conducting an explosive scientific experiment, eagerly volunteer to make the next kettle, and are questioning about how to best serve the teas on the restaurant floor.
The last brew on the menu is from the herbal teas and should help one cope with the stresses that come with the month of January. White Diamond herbal tea is an infusion of apple pieces, white hibiscus, sugar ice crystals, jasmine flowers, chamomile, white pepper and rose petals and leaves a creamy peachy sensation on the pallet. Learn more about the tea here