We reported the news on Cederberg Tea House when they opened back in July in the old Caffe Appassionato location on the corner of Queen Anne Avenue and Galer Street, and now it’s time for a spotlight! The Queen Anne restaurant and tea house serves coffee, teas, hot sandwiches, South African treats and special beverages made with a South African tea called Rooibos.
Cederberg is family owned and operated by mother-daughter team Cecile Robson and Natasha Robson-Lovato. Until just days before opening the shop, Natasha had been a middle school teacher. Cecile had always wanted to open a coffee shop, but fell in love with the idea to focus on South African teas and treats, so that became the vision.
“We wanted to bring a bit of South Africa to Seattle,” Robson said.
The real push that drove Cecile and Natasha to open the teahouse came after Natasha’s wedding. She had a traditional South African reception, with high tea served in special cups that they couldn’t find to rent anywhere, so they bought over 100 of them. After the wedding, the options were to try to sell them on eBay, or use them in a business. Natasha had always loved baking and cooking, so she and her mother started a catering business out of their home to offer high teas and event catering.
“I really realized that Americans would love South African food with my husband’s picky daughters. They push most things away but they love all of the South African things I make,” Robson-Lovato said.
The catering business grew, and Cecile and Natasha decided to open up a shop on Queen Anne in the recently-vacated Caffe Appassionato space. They still do their catering services, whether you want a high tea for your event or just something a little different to add flavor to your celebration or gathering.
Cederberg specializes in Rooibos espresso, which is the Rooibos tea ground and brewed like coffee espresso and then used in lattes and cappuccinos and other typical coffee beverages. Authentic Rooibos is only grown in the Cederberg region of South Africa, and this Queen Anne restaurant gets their tea imported straight from that source. Most bagged rooibos teas and the typical rooibos sold in stores is grown elsewhere, which means it’s nowhere near as good. The tea is non-caffeinated, and is really high in antioxidants, so it is good for you in addition to being delicious.
Cederberg Tea House also offers twelve different teas that customers can enjoy by the pot, as well as espresso coffee from Camano Island Coffee Roasters, in case you’re in the mood for a good cappuccino. It’s organic and local, too!
In the way of food, “We have something for everyone,” Cecile says, but that doesn’t mean your average blueberry muffin or coffeecake! Some of their traditional South African treats include a Melktert (milk custard pastry), Malva Pudding (essentially a syrup-soaked cake), Koek Sisters (more syrup-soaking, only doughnuts this time), and Hertzog – a tart with a shortbread crust, apricot jam filling, and a coconut meringue topping. They even make some gluten-free options!
“I tried normal things like quiches and things, but it didn’t work – they didn’t sell. People seem to really want the different, new things,” Natasha said.
They have a menu of sandwiches that has breakfast classics in addition to more ‘out there’ toasted sandwich flavors like Bacon & Banana, Chicken Mayonnaise, and Jam & Cheese (apricot jam and cheddar cheese). A favorite is their Chicken Cranberry Walnut sandwich. Later into the fall, Cecile and Natasha plan to add soups and salads to the menu, too.
Cederberg is a hit with the South African community in and around Seattle. “Since we opened, every day we have met a new South African person that we didn’t know before – except for two days,” Natasha said. “We’ve met some wonderful people.” The community is very close-knit, and as soon as they heard about the teahouse, the now-Seattleites from South Africa have come for miles to enjoy tea and treats from home. “I think the farthest anyone has ever come just to visit us was from Bellingham,” she said.
The teahouse is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Wednesdays, they are open until 9 p.m. for Poetry workshops, and Cederberg will also begin hosting music shows once or twice a month that they will stay open late for. Coming up on the evening of October 10th, they will have a South African cellist playing, so mark your calendars!