Rooibos Tea

The year when I was nineteen, I was in Tokyo preparing for the university entrance exam. It was the first time I’d left my hometown and lived on my own, and my parents notified all the relatives and family friends in the area to watch out for me.

One of those people was my father’s good old friend from university. He and his wife lived just outside of the Metropolitan Tokyo, and every now and then, I would visit them to spend a weekend at their house. Since their two children were living and studying in the UK at the time, I stayed in one of their rooms, joining the couple’s weekend routine almost like an instant family member.

In the evening, after dinner was the family’s teatime. Someone would put the kettle on, and three teacups would be placed on the table. One of them was taken out from the cupboard for me. Its colour was teal and it had a picture of an ammonite in the centre. When I held it, the cup fit perfectly between my two palms.

“It comes from St. Hilda’s College in Oxford,” told me the wife when she noticed that I really liked the cup. From that day on, I would always choose that mug whenever I visited them.

Once the water boiled, she and I would go to the kitchen with the round teapot and pour the boiling water in it with a teabag. The fragrance of the tea was very soothing, but unfamiliar.

“What tea is this?”

“Rooibos tea,” she replied. The name was so foreign to me that I had to ask her to repeat it many times before I finally got it. “It’s a herbal tea from somewhere in Africa.”

Once the teapot was full, it was time for brewing. The husband placed something called a “tea cosy” on the teapot, which was shaped like a black cat, and poured a little bit of milk into each of our cups. According to them, the tea would taste better if the milk was poured first.

After waiting for several minutes with relaxing jazz music in the back, it was finally time to welcome the tea into our cups. Once my cup was filled with tea, I eagerly took my first sip.

“This is…delicious!” I exclaimed, my back straightening and my eyes shining. “I love rooibos tea. It’s my favourite tea ever!”

To this day, rooibos tea remains my absolute favourite, and I always love to have it with milk poured before the tea.