WHAT THE TEA LADY KNOWS

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

‘‘ MMA Ramotswe had a de­tec­tive agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill. Th­ese were its as­sets: a tiny white van, two desks, two chairs, a tele­phone and an old type­writer. Then there was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe— the only lady private de­tec­tive in Botswana— brewed red bush tea. And three mugs: one for her­self, one for her sec­re­tary, and one for the client. What else does a de­tec­tive agency re­ally need?’’

Read­ers of Alexan­der McCall Smith’s pop­u­lar No 1 Ladies De­tec­tive Agency se­ries, set in Botswana, will be well ac­quainted with Mma Pre­cious Ramotswe’s life­long ad­dic­tion to red bush tea. In her de­tec­tive agency of­fice — ad­ja­cent to Tlok­weng Road Speedy Mo­tors, owned by her hus­band Mr J. L. B. Matekoni — the tra­di­tion­ally built Mma Ramotswe brews count­less pots of stiff red bush tea each day. One can’t imag­ine the lady de­tec­tive heav­ing her­self aboard her tiny white van and rum­bling off to scare the day­lights out of mis­chief mak­ers with­out sev­eral for­ti­fy­ing litres un­der her belt.

Aus­tralian tea com­pany T2 has red Rooi­bos loose­leaf tea (100g box, $11.50; 250g foil packet, $22.50; 250g tall tin, $28.50) among its ever-ex­pand­ing lineup. Other ex­otic blends worth a sip: honey green al­mond, honey vanilla, white flowery pekoe, chilli kiss, billy bush tucker, turk­ish ap­ple and the de­li­ciously com­plex fruit blush.

Rooi­bos con­tains no caf­feine and is grown only in South Africa around the Ceder­berg moun­tain re­gion north of Capetown. It con­tains few tan­nins but is rich in iron, flu­o­ride, cal­cium and mag­ne­sium. Surely a cuppa of this health-giv­ing brew is the per­fect com­pan­ion when read­ing McCall Smith’s Botswana books. The latest No 1 Ladies De­tec­tive Agency ti­tle, the ninth in the se­ries, TheMir­a­cleatSpeedyMo­tors (Lit­tle, Brown $34.99), is due out on March 1. Un­sur­pris­ingly, Mma Ramotswe is well into a cup of red bush tea by page four.

www.t2tea.com Susan Kuro­sawa

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