Capetonians are known for their hospitality and travellers have since Jan van Riebeeck’s time enthused about it in journals and letters. Guests were always welcome, with the coffee or bossie tea (honey or rooibos) bubbling constantly on the warmer.
At La Motte, with its extensive wine tourism offering and Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant, hospitality is of the essence. And although the estate’s wines are usually at the heart of all things celebratory, the popularity of its Winelands Tea and beautiful selection of porcelain and accessories from the Farm Shop honours the tradition of welcoming guests with coffee and tea and something on the side.
In the days of the Old Cape, coffee and local bossie tea were very popular, with imported tea only becoming so later, as it was heavily taxed and, initially, expensive. Regardless of what was served, though, the lady of the house enjoyed using her best porcelain.
During the 18th century, fine porcelain became very popular at the Cape and the VOC commissioned porcelain featuring the VOC monogram. Shiploads of porcelain were regularly transported from China to Europe along the Cape sea-route and these porcelain pieces were eagerly snatched up by the Cape burghers. Families who could afford the luxury, ordered their own personal dinner-services embossed with family arms and monograms. Chinese blue-and-white Imperial porcelain as well as the famille-rose design, were extremely popular.
In memory of this tradition, modern day fine artist and ceramicist Ella-Lou O’Meara was commissioned by La Motte to produce a special tea-service for the La Motte Winelands Tea in the style of the original famille-rose design.
Tea and coffee were always served with the necessary accompaniments; preserved jam or confiture, consisting of whole fruit or big pieces often served with little silver forks, or raisins or apricots preserved in brandy, called Boerejongens and Boeremeisies.
Enjoying something with a bit of a kick with tea or coffee does not seem to have been frowned upon either. It was also an Old Cape custom to offer guests some sweet wine, called a soetsopie. These soetsopies usually consisted of strong liquor sweetened with sugar and flavoured with cherries, ginger, cinnamon, rose water, cloves, lemon peel, aniseed or even fig leaves. At La Motte the soetsopie of choice with the Winelands Tea is the estate’s aromatic Straw Wine made from Viognier grapes. (see featured image)
Cape cooks took pride in the outstanding quality and variety of their tarts, biscuits, cakes and puddings, offered generously with tea and coffee to visitors and friends. It is impressive how many baked products of excellent quality were prepared in the early days of the Cape when many cooks did not have ovens. Pots and pans with tight-fitting lids were used and coals were placed on top and underneath to provide the heat. This was not the only problem when it came to baking – there was no commercial raising agents available either. Before commercial flavourings became available, cooks used lemon and naartjie peel, spices such as ginger, cloves, aniseed, allspice and cinnamon, as well as orange blossom- and rose-water for flavouring.
Honouring the wonderful tradition of Cape hospitality and the enjoyment of an elegant tea or coffee service, are the following products in the Farm Shop:
Porcelain espresso cups and saucers (R115) as well as side-plates (R115) inspired by Vladimir Tretchikoff‘s paintings, Lady of the Orient and Chinese Girl.
Protea coffee jugs (R69), mahogany chopping board with leather handle and protea design (R435), crocheted cake or rusk baskets (R149).
Hand-made espresso ceramic cups and saucers by local artist David Walters (R225), hand-made Darling toffees in a variety of original flavours such as sour fig, red wine and chocolate (R10), a special selection of La Motte coffee beans by Bean in Love (R139 for 500 g), Puzzle board (R195).
Rhodes glass creamer (R59), large sweet coupe (74), sugar or candy bowls (Medium: R110, Large: R145), French Pewter tray (R1570), Blue Blushing Bride tea towel (R485).
Pewter Coffee, Tea and Sugar set (R1 370), Pewter sugar bowl with spoon (R435), French Pewter tray (R1 570), Blue Blushing Bride tea towel (R485).
VOC-inspired, hand-painted tea-cups and saucers by Ella-Lou O’Meara (R690), Mia glass dome (R95), French pewter tea tray (R1 570), Blushing Bride tea towel (R195).