With the pandemic having turned everyone’s focus towards healthier living, there has been a strong resurgence in tea consumption across the world.
This heightened interest has led to an increasing spike in ‘tea tourism’, where tea-loving travellers express the desire to explore unique regions in the world where tea or tisanes (herbal teas) are produced.
As a niche travel experience, tea tourism currently falls under the umbrella of ‘beverage tourism’ which also encompasses coffee, wine, whisky, gin, and beer. And, being that it also falls under the sustainability banner, tea tourism also ticks the right boxes regarding ethical and responsible travel.
Tea tourism in Africa
Whilst countries across Asia, such as India, China and Japan, are most notable for their tea cultures, the African continent is showing great potential within the tea tourism market. Africa is home to a bounty of diverse cultures, but one thing they all have in common is a hearty appreciation for tea, serving it as a refreshment to accompany meals, or as a show of hospitality to guests.
Although tea (mint tea specifically!) is ubiquitous across countries such as Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, Turkey has also enjoyed a long history of tea drinking, with Rize çayı, being their most famous variety. Somalia’s shaah is also worth mentioning. This flavourful blend of black tea with sugar features hints of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom.
Tea is also big business in Africa, with plantations in Kenya (one of the largest producers on the continent) to Malawi (the oldest plantations in all of Africa). But over in South Africa, rooibos (red bush) farming in the Cedarberg shows great potential to become a new engine of economic growth: creating employment opportunities and new experiences for visitors.
Adding to the allure of this special tea, was the recent 2021 ruling whereby the European Union added rooibos to its register of products with a protected designation of origin (PDO) – the same given to champagne, prosciutto di Parma, and feta. This iconic South African tea now stands as the first African product to receive such status in the EU.
This crucial designation has offered local rooibos producers and farmers a valuable market advantage because only infusions produced from the Cedarberg region (just north of Cape Town) can be sold in the EU and officially be labelled ‘rooibos’. It has also ensured that those seeking to learn more about this special tea can only do so in one place: the Western Cape in South Africa.
Fill your cup
With the global herbal tea market growing at 7% per year, according to data from Euromonitor International, tea tourism presents countless opportunities for tourism stakeholders looking to offer travellers new, unique, and previously unexplored experiences across Africa.
Aside from contributing to the local economy, exploring the world through the lens of a teacup grants priceless insights into local history, and culture. And, not to mention, giving tea-loving travellers the opportunity to sample new variations of their favourite brew, and better understand how it gets from crop to cup.