Most Saturday mornings I start the day by making breakfast for my partner and I, sitting on the balcony and planning the day ahead.
While boiling the kettle I browsed around Instagram and came across a page called Ka Pa Tée. Without thinking twice, I traded my caffeine fix for a taste of the oriental.
The beauty of ‘Ka Pa Tée's experience is that it starts even before you enter the building. When strolling down Church Street, the aromas of foreign flavors grab you by the nose and pull you inside the organic tea bar. This is where I met the friendly owners Diana and Bruno, who turned their passion for tea into what I'd describe as one of the most elegant bars in town.
When asking about their selection of tea, Diana explains, with enthusiasm, how she collects teas from all over Asia, South Africa and now planning to import from other African countries too. With a variety of 50 different teas like Buchu, Rooibos, Earl Grey, Rwanda Rukeri, Green tea and Black tea blends, there is more than enough to tickle your taste buds.
What I really enjoyed is the variety of teas, their labeling/ packaging and how neatly they are displayed on the shelves. You get to open the containers and smell the different flavors before you buy, and perhaps this is what makes it so unique. The experience becomes a lot more interactive and sensory, as you get to touch, smell, see and taste and I guess if tea had a sound of its own, you’d find it there too.
The tea bar is open for tasting or just a casual sit down and enjoy. There are delicious treats from local producers which complement the different teas, so in a sense, it’s almost like a pairing.Cape Town consumers have realized the value of boutique style experiences.
Whether its food, drink, or clothing, we have become spoiled with owner-client experiences that are a lot more welcoming and personal than going to a grocer.
I asked Diana about the name and her face lit up with a beautiful smile. She explained that originally, they played with the English phrase of 'a cup of tea' or ' a cuppa tea' that without them even realising, had direct reference to Cape Town. When they simplified it, it became clear that Ka Pa Tée suited the name of the space perfectly and made it contextually relevant.
What I noticed about the interior design is how the two partners succeeded in extracting ideas from various tea- related environments and fused it together to create what is their organic tea-exposition.
Perhaps the most relevant feelings the interior design evoke is that of calmness and serenity. As powerful as the flavors from Asia, so is the Feng Shui, or what is experienced as such, in the making of this beautiful space. This is not only evident in the layout of the shop, but also how you perceive it. The bar is anchored by one of my favorite elements, the grey/blue wall that together with the timber counter and white lights float like a cloud.
I couldn't help but feel at times as if I was sitting on a stoep somewhere in a private courtyard, enjoying the sounds of music playing and being aware of the greenery that breathes life into the space. One of my favorite spots in the shop is the bay window with a low rise built-in bench, decorated with beautiful pillows and Chinese bamboo. Being able to sit in the shop front lends the user to be part of both street and shop.
But while we were waiting on our tea, I realized that there was one idea that was actually so strong, but I completely overlooked it, because I was so fascinated by the large selection of teas and the beautiful furniture. What I'm talking about is the preparation of the tea at the counter. The brewing and the making of that has an almost laboratory feeling and ‘look’ to it. From the front of house, one can see the tea being brewed in glass and stainless-steel cylinders and various tea leaves stored in glass tubes.
I personally believe that in any shop, the merchandise should become an extension of the interior design and not simply objects to be sold. At ‘Ka Pa Tee’, this is exactly what they have done. Apart from the tea drinking experience, you can also buy beautiful tea sets imported from Japan and China, not to forget about the more traditional European designs. They also sell other local products such as leather bags and woven baskets and stock other organic lifestyle products.
I am still trying to figure out if I am hooked to this place because of the beautiful interior, the delightful conversation I had with Diana or the incredible selection of tea. They’ve managed to reinvent the tea-shopping experience and blend it with beautiful design and amazing flavours.