The man behind Nigiro tea
Behind every great brand are the people and their passions who brought it into being. The man who stands, smiling, behind Nigiro tea is Mingwei Tsai. Mingwei came to visit us here at Yuppiechef HQ to share his appreciation of tea and his enthusiasm and insight have certainly changed the way we view our daily brew.
Mingwei only embraced his underlying love for tea after acquiring a PhD in Engineering. A ‘chance’ encounter lead him to meet the owner of the Origin coffee roasting company (don’t you love it when life nudges things along?) and their shared belief that South Africa was ready for a culture of tea appreciation culminated in the birth of Nigiro; the literal and figurative reflection of Origin.
Nigiro also means ‘holding hands’ in Japanese. It was meant to be. Mingwei now spreads the Nigiro tea tasting philosophy from Oways, his wife’s restaurant in Claremont, as well as a tasting room in De Waterkant.
His mission is to inspire tea appreciation. It may take just 23 seconds to dunk a tea bag into a cup but with the right tools, teas and a little information the rich and beautiful world of tea can come alive.
He places great importance on the origin of each tea, how each was picked and made, and also how each is brewed. The experience of tea drinking is as important as the quality of the leaves themselves and each type of tea should be brewed differently (find out more here) and has the power to enhance the flavours in food. The orange and spiced rooibos tea, for example, accentuates any rich chocolaty dessert. Now, there’s an idea.
Mingwei’s belief is that by engaging with one another through the practice of tea drinking, a common desire for tranquility will be achieved in our oh-so fast moving world. If our tranquil test kitchen was anything to go by, we back Mingwei’s mindful infusions all the way. His teas, each brewing in a glass teapot, are quite beautiful and as for the artisan show flower, aren’t they magic?
As far as tea appreciation goes, all you really need is a good dose of time. The patient, unhurried making is key and Mingwei certainly has us convinced. Sipping a selection of his teas is almost like arriving in another country and realising that the world is a lot bigger, greater and more beautiful than the small town you are used to.
Tea culture is not huge in the West as it is in the East but, with so many varieties to be tasted, there’s a tea journey awaiting each one of us.
Oways images courtesy of Oways tea cafe.