In Mauritius, the legacy of British rule can be seen in everything from the legal system to the Frenglish spoken by the locals. Yet the English custom that has left a lasting mark on the island is… teatime! Over the years, teatime has evolved into a uniquely Mauritian ritual, one that an anglophile might even take exception to! Here, we delve into the details of this delicious local tradition.
Perhaps ironically, it was the French who first introduced tea to Mauritius. However, the cultivation of the fragrant shrub only started in earnest with the arrival of the British. They turned what was localised tea planting into a thriving and profitable industry. The tea plant is ideally suited to the mild climate of the Mauritian highlands, and today can be found throughout the centre of the island.
Visit any Mauritian home or office during the afternoon and it’s likely that you’ll be greeted by the humming of a kettle or the soothing scent of a cup of tea. Here, tea isn’t just a stimulant – it’s also an excuse to take a break and enjoy the moment, either by yourself or with friends, family or colleagues.
Black tea is the traditional choice for afternoon tea. In Mauritius, however, the locally-produced vanilla tea is a firm favourite. The famous French tea emporium Mariage Frères even sells a “Grand Bois Chéri” variety around the world: “a broken-leaf black tea from Mauritius; strong and refined with a distinctive vanilla flavour”. Our local vintage is clearly popular! Tea purists beware, however: in Mauritius, tea is usually served sweet, with a hefty dose of powdered milk.
Dité Dipin Diber
In Mauritius, having a dité(1) usually involves indulging in a gadjak(2). Tea is typically enjoyed alongside a wide range of tasty local delicacies. On the salty side, the classic dipin diber(3) is best stuffed with original Kraft cheese or a few gato pima(4)… or both! For those with a sweet tooth, nothing beats a handful of cassava biscuits and some achingly saccharine napolitains (the pink ones, preferably!).
(1) “tea” in Creole
(2)”snacks” in Creole
(3) “bread and butter” in Creole
(4) deep-fried chilli snacks
Bois Chéri was the first large tea plantation established on the island in the late nineteenth century. Alongside Corson and La Chartreuse, it remains the tea of choice in Mauritius. The Tea Route allows you to visit the Bois Chéri factory, plantations and museum, and is an essential part of any visit to Mauritius. Learn how tea is produced thanks to an expert tour guide; explore the museum and discover the history of tea in Mauritius, including its cultural significance; and indulge in a tasting session in a beautiful setting overlooking a mist-wreathed lake.
You can also enjoy this gourmet experience in each of our Veranda hotels: tea and a self-service buffet are served every day between 4 pm and 5 pm, and are complimentary for guests on all-inclusive packages! Choose from Bois Chéri teas (vanilla, mango, passion, lemon…) or herbal teas (verbena, chamomile, mint…) as well as from a selection of biscuits and pancakes.
So… how do you take your tea?