A couple of years ago, I took a friend & her Dutch husband to Constitutional Hill. We wanted to spend time together & explore some of the history of South Africa. It was fascinating but also sobering & very intense. It was good & necessary for us all to see, of course, but I found it so heavy.
Fast forward to my most recent cultural / historical experience in Jozi which was a super pleasant surprise & one that I will recommend to all locals & international visitors.
I have probably mentioned a million times how much I love tea, so when I was invited to the launch of a brand new YSWARA tea I wasn’t exactly thinking of or expecting a cultural experience.
The venue: Satyagraha House in Orchard, Johannesburg, which is also known as Ghandi House, because Mohandas Gandhi lived over 100 years ago.
It was designed & built in 1907 by Gandhi’s close friend & architect Hermann Kallenbach, with whom Gandhi shared the House from 1908 to 1909. In 2009 Voyageurs du Monde Africa, one of France’s largest travel firms acquired the property. And after careful restoration, it opened to the public again as a museum & guest house in 2011. It now offers a unique way to immerse yourself in the privacy of Ghandi & the history of our country.
When you arrive at Satyagraha House you can immediately sense the serenity & uniqueness of this venue. Satyagraha was given the name to the philosophy of passive resistance developed by Gandhi. What surprised me most was the tranquility & the unique experience; Gandhi’s presence can still be felt – his principles of asceticism are evident in the minimalist decor & simplicity.
It offers a peaceful & contemplative environment where visitors & guests from around the world are made to feel at home.
Tea is an affordable, simple & pleasant way to refresh. It is also said to enhance natural immune mechanisms; preserve health & beauty. Ghandi himself also loved tea.
As part of an ongoing effort to support local brands & create a unique experience, Satyagraha House partnered with YSWARA (curator & creator of luxury, but socially-responsible & artisan-made gourmet teas) to create a bespoke wellness tea. The brief: it must be organic, caffeine free, premium & exclusive to Satyagraha.
“This partnership is like a dream come true. Our products are a symbol of the ingenuity & traditions of the African people & our brand & the company ethos resonates strongly with Gandhi’s message – Satyagraha – the force that is generated through adherence to truth,” says YSWARA founder & CEO, Swaady Martin-Leke.
“Gandhi had strong views on food & drinks. [He] adopted a minimalistic approach to diet intake,” says Edna Oberholzer, general manager of the Satyagraha House & Museum , “so with that in mind & to respect Gandhi’s views we imagined a brew he would enjoy & created a wellness herbal tea blending warm spices with fragrant verbena from Malawi.”
The Satyagraha House bespoke blend combines the very best of African teas from across the continent. Blended within South Africa, the all natural ingredients were used to create the finest herbal tea rich in antioxidants & good for releasing blocked nasal airways. The blend is: Cinnamon Pieces (32.4%), Black Tea (24%), Lemon Verbena (20%), 8% Cloves, 8% Ginger, 4% Cardamon, 2.4% Honeybush, 0.8% Rooibos & 0.4% Rosebuds. Absolutely delicious.
Do yourself a favour & a visit the museum followed by tea & scones or a relaxed lunch. All meals are vegetarian, but it is mouth-watering. Believe me, I’ve tasted it! Vegans can also be catered for. Just remember to book. Satyagraha operates a farm style kitchen, so it’s important that Edna (Oberholzer, who is also a wonderful chef) knows you’re coming. She will then prepare something yummy & special for you. No alcohol is served on the premises, but the delightful fresh juices & YSWARA tea certainly make up for it.
Or you can book a private dinner or spend a night in one of the seven rooms. This is unique five-star accommodation for business guests & leisure travellers decorated in neutral tones. The focus remains on tranquillity which means no TV & quiet spots in the house & garden for meditation.
No entrance fee is charged for South Africans but a small fee is charged for international visitors.
Satyagraha is absolutely worth a visit, so plan your trip there today still. You’ll be glad you did.
Images: Tony Garland.