There isn’t a Pantone shade that matches the colour of Yswara Tea Room, located in the revamped Cosmopolitan building in Maboneng, Johannesburg. It is a shade that Yswara founder Swaady Martin has developed — a delicate pink that is echoed in the rows of tins and boxes of tea lining the walls, and the occasional brightly polished rose gold Ethiopian cross and engraved Moroccan tray. On a low shelf, open glass containers hold samples of each tea blend. Visitors wander in from the sculpture garden below and work their way through the perfumes of these samples — coconut, spices, vanilla, hibiscus, buchu — or sip hot, golden tea. The blend names allude to Africa’s history as a continent of empires, kingdoms and unrivalled centres of learning — a history mostly lost these days in the constant iteration of Africa as a place of “poverty, dictatorships, colonisation, and lack of resources and education”, as Martin puts it. “The youth in Africa are unaware of their rich heritage and what is ...

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