It was Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism, who was credited with the saying “tea is the elixir of life”, which is an ideology that South Africa has taken to heart over the last five centuries. Another lesser known epithet is that “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy tea – which is basically the same thing.” This is a sentiment that resonates with Norma and Patrick Cui, owners and proprietors of Norick Interiors; Africa’s one and only standing traditional tea house that is based in a setting of fine furniture, antiques, arts and accessories.
Norick Interiors opened its doors midway through 2003 as an antique store specialising in Classical Chinese Furniture, Antiques and Accessories. When they began along this path there were seven competitors in the market, but Norick is the last remaining of its kind.
What makes Norick so special?
Norick Interiors breaks the mould with their process, in that they have their own factory with over one hundred agents all over China scouting genuine antiques at all times. When an agent identifies the genuine article, the pieces are brought back to the factory where highly skilled craftsmen use traditional methods to fix and restore them. The method is very specific, and craftsmen are mandated with maintaining the antiquity of the pieces as much as is possible. Preservation is crucial.
Once finished, the pieces are available for shipment and delivery in South Africa and around the rest of the world. All of the accessories come from dedicated suppliers, allowing Norick Interiors to custom build to client requests as well.
To tea or not to tea, that is the question.
In 2005 Norick Interiors participated in an interior exhibition called Rooms on View, where they entered their very own traditional Chinese Teahouse. Their exhibit came in the top five. The Teahouse had been specially designed and built at Norick’s factory, with genuine carved pieces that originated in centuries-old temples across the world.
If one were to visit the Teahouse now, one would be able to book a traditional tea ceremony with Patrick Cui; a certified tea master whose passionate skills include serving and passing on knowledge in the ancient art of Chinese tea culture. Talk about authentici-tea.
Where should I be looking?
Norick Interiors is based in Kramerville, Sandton, and has a showroom where visitors can peruse the massive array of wares on display. The Tea Ceremonies also take place here.
Given Norick’s unique niche in the market, one would be negligent to miss out on an opportunity at experiencing such dedication to Asian culture. It’s hard enough to go to China and find a tea master, but to have the only one in Africa hanging about Egoli is simply serendipitous. The exquisite furniture, antiques, arts and accessories – all up for purchase – make the experience that much more authentic.
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