Cederberg Brings South African Tea to Queen Anne

There’s a new tea house in town, but it’s not like any other you’ll find in Seattle. Owned by a South African family, Cederberg Tea House in Upper Queen Anne specializes in Rooibos tea — with an interesting twist. They actually grind the tea in an espresso machine to make Rooibos Lattes, Frappes and other typical coffee-style drinks. Owner Natasha Robson-Lovato says this trend has been popular in South Africa since 2001 but, to her knowledge, hasn’t yet made it to the states — until now. I tried the Roobios Latte, which tasted similar to chai, but not nearly as cloying and with a much stronger tea flavor. I bought a Rooibos Fresh too, which is apple juice with two shots of Roobios tea served cold in a Mason jar. It was refreshing and a nice change from run-of-the-mill iced tea. Rooibos tea or “Bush tea” comes from the leaves of a South African plant in the Legume family, and is naturally de-caffeinated.

Also on the menu are traditional South African sweets like Romany Creams (chocolate coconut cookies), Mulva Pudding (warm, syrup-soaked cake), Brandy Tipsy Tarts (date muffins rolled in Brandy and served with cream) and savory items like tea sandwiches and British Sausage Rolls. They plan to start serving South African grilled sandwiches like Bacon and Banana soon as well.

Robson-Lovato, who was a drama teach on Mercer Island for the past nine years, came to the States from Johannesburg with her mother and father in 1994, settling in Seattle in 2005. She and her mother, Cecile Robson, who also works in the store, catered high tea parties here before opening Cederberg. When Natasha got married in 2011, they had a traditional South African high tea wedding. “There was no place to rent tea cups, so we had to buy hundreds of them. After that, we figured, we’ve got all of these cups, so why not start our own business?” said Robson-Lovato. Seaking about South Africa, she added, “I really miss it. If I can’t go back, I knew I needed to bring some of it here.”

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