With a proud disposition and an elegant swish of her hand, Swaady Martin-Leke pins my attention to the table in front of me. She looks completely at ease in the luxe surroundings of the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff in Johannesburg, her collection of fine teas laid out in front of me, encouraging me to try each and every one. Gracefully, she picks up a black ceramic tea pot and pours the water into a small tea cup letting the aromas of freshly-brewed Rooibos tea mixed with the distinct smell of chocolate and caramel sink in before offering up the cup for me to taste.
Swaady’s sensual descriptions of her teas reveal her passion and the secrets she has learnt about this ancient, comforting drink. When she speaks, the reason as to why she opted to start an authentically African luxury tea brand makes sense and I can’t help but think I’d buy into her cult any day.
The tea she has poured for me speaks to community and leadership in Nigeria, the honour of Omoluabi. The Nigerian Rooibos brings sweetness, while the distilled layers of chocolate and caramel permeate the tea in an almost-smokey way.
This experience extends beyond just the tea I’m holding in my cup though. Swaady first explains that she chose to make tea because she didn’t like the taste of plain water, but with a few more questions, the real reason is revealed. The raw potential in Africa is what I believe drives Swaady – she speaks of the craftsmanship of African farmers and the beauty in our distinctive tea crops, and she believes that there is no reason why Africa should not have luxury brands that rival those of Europe and America.
The creation of the YSWARA tea range has been one of forethought and dedication, from the distinctive colour of the packaging to the tea-drinking experience laid out in front of me. Swaady has crafted a luxury label fit to stand alongside its European counterparts and soon will, if her drive is anything to go by.