Train rides and tea

For some reason, I have itchy feet at the moment – perhaps the prospect of some travel in the New Year unraveled me – but it got me reminiscing some…

I have a secret love affair…with a place… high in the hills of the most Northern part of Vietnam, bordering the dense forests of China…called Sapa. In fact, I fell in love with the entire country and still regard it as the most incredible place I have been fortunate to have travelled…on more than one occasion. Not always easy travelling, in fact almost always hard going – this is Vietnam.


People talk about discovering themselves, and in my hazey, dazey teens I suppose I could have come up with a plethora of proposed moments. But actually, there was only one, which lasted a couple of days – and involved a frighteningly filthy and horridly hair-raising overnight train ride through a war torn country of people who are ethnically, culturally and linguistically opposed to most things we Westerners’ represent, but yet exude a humility and gentleness that it humbling.

A country who’s history both frightens and fascinates me and who’s culture and people inspire me to the point of seeing me almost having moved my life there. And the strange thing was that, at the time, I didn’t realise the impact that this experience would have on my life – I longed to come home and be removed from the foreign-ness of it all.

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There are times when I long to return, just for a minute or two, to stand in the middle of the street in the centre of Ho Chi Min during the daily moonsoon downpour, to be soaked, but warm and balmy, to smell the streets, the paddies, the coffee, the dragon fruit, the fish-oil and its people (all at the same time, only possible on the streets of Nam), to hear the hundreds of honking horns and the rain…and, and, and. Ah, I love this country!

Can you believe the revelation, when I discovered that I could achieve this simply through a cup of tea!? And today, while I am feeling strangely reminiscent – I am grateful for this discovery.


From within the walls of the delightful Oways Tea Cafe in Claremont, Cape Town – I am able to return to my Vietnam through the flavours of their prized Pu-Erh Red Tea. The only way I can describe the flavour is to reveal that it tastes like the valley through Sapa, where the colour green was reinvented. This was the gold I discovered at the end of that train ride that changed my life.

Said to be excellent for detoxifying the body and mind, I highly recommend you experience the completely unique flavour of this tea, which changes after each infusion.

And whilst I sit here reminiscing through my tea, all the while trying to piece together some Christmas gift lists – I realise, what not more perfect than sharing this and other teas with loved ones in the hope that it brings them the same kind of joy it does for me.

With this in mind why don’t you take a peek at the exquisite “Art of Tea” gift as the ideal Christmas pressie….or pop into Oways for further inspiration on the gift of giving tea this Christmas.

Nan_blog picWritten for by: Nancy Hoepner  – Magpie Creative

Only slightly exhausted mother-of-two delicious girls, lover of food (fine and fast), purveyor of all things pretty and Jill of all things ‘creative’…Nancy has a background in the visual arts, design and marketing and is the owner of Magpie Creative. Having worked with the eat-art team before, she is thrilled, and slightly bewildered to have been asked to (take time out from juggling and) add some spice to the blog. Don’t get us wrong….it’s not that it needs it….it just wants more…and she is happy to oblige. |


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