It’s a sad day for the diversity of Seattle’s tea scene, as the city’s — and most likely America’s — only South African tea house, Cederberg Tea House (1417 Queen Anne Ave. N), is closing soon. The Queen Anne cafe’s owners, Natasha Robson-Lovato and her mother, Cecile Robson, announced on Facebook yesterday that they’re moving back home to Johannesburg, South Africa, and unfortunately their traditional South African baked goods aren’t sticking around. Their famous rooibos lattes and red espresso drinks will live on, though, at Koku, a Japanese cafe and market replacing Cederberg June 19.
Cederberg Kickstarted $10,405 in 2013 to open its doors, becoming one of the only places in America to get an earthy-sweet rooibos latte the South African way: with the dried herb pulled through an espresso machine and blended with steamed milk. The shop also serves iced teas like the Rooibos Fresh (apple juice with two shots of Rooibos tea). It’s unclear exactly when Cederberg will close: “We do not have an exact date yet, but it will be sooner rather than later,” the company told one Facebook commenter.
On the bright side, the owners are selling a cookbook, From South Africa to Seattle, so fans can recreate the magic of malva pudding (a caramelized sponge cake), melktert (a milk custard tart), and koeksister (a syrup-soaked braided doughnut) at home. The book costs $25 and customers can pick it up at the store for now or email firstname.lastname@example.org to have it shipped.
The owners assured one Facebook commenter, “[Y]es, the samosa curry pasty is in there,” but the shop’s gluten-free recipes didn’t make the cut: “Unfortunately, I did not get to include them in the book. Maybe there will have to be a second edition.”
And in another silver lining,
Update: May 25, 2018, 12:45 p.m.
This article was updated to include a mention of and link to more information about Koku, Cederberg’s replacement.