Last updated: July 2018
You’re heading home, and you’re wondering “what’s a good gift to bring back from South Africa?”
Don’t worry: South Africa has plenty of products that make great gifts. So many that you’ll probably start throwing out all of your clothes in a desperate attempt to squeeze more souvenirs into your suitcase.
Here’s just a small sample of some of the great South African products that you should consider bringing home.
Rooibos means “red bush” in Afrikaans, and refers to the herbal tea that’s made from the fynbos in South Africa. It’s usually grown in Cederberg, a small and mountainous region of the Western Cape Province. The plant is then harvested and dried to produce tea.
Unlike traditional black tea, Rooibos Tea doesn’t contain any caffeine: you can drink it before bed, and it won’t affect your sleep.
You can get rooibos tea around the world, but you’re not going to find better quality than in South Africa. As well as packets of tea (both loose and in tea bags), you’ll also find a couple of other Rooibos-based products that you’re unlikely to find as easily elsewhere.
Rooibos espresso, or red espresso, is an espresso-like product that’s perfect for those that want a caffeine-free alternative to traditional espressos. It’s ideal for adding to lattes or drinking on its own.
You’ll see products made from ostrich eggs all over Africa, but particularly in and around Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karroo. This is the ostrich capital of South Africa where there are hundreds and hundreds of different ostrich farms.
Unlike a chicken or duck egg, these shells are very robust. As long as you take care of them, you shouldn’t have a problem getting them home in one piece.
South Africa may not be world-renowned for its chocolate in the same way as Germany or Switzerland is, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent chocolatiers here. At least one chocolate company is worth making a special pilgrimage for, and that’s De Villiers.
De Villiers is a small chocolate producer that’s based in Paarl in the Winelands region of South Africa. The company has a small outlet in Franschhoek, but its main presence is at The Spice Route winery on the outskirts of Paarl – around an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
The startup is small, but can proudly claim the title of being South Africa’s first bean-to-bar chocolate producer. All of the products are made from sustainably-sourced cocoa beans and are produced in micro-batches.
The quality of the chocolate is outstanding, and no matter how much you buy you’ll wish you’d bought more. Be sure to pick up their “Single Origin Collection,” which comprises of six different bars made from beans from around the world.
Tanzanite is a gemstone, first discovered in Tanzania, that’s blue although often purple and even burgundy in color. Tanzanite is an alternative to diamonds and it’s growing increasingly popular around the world. Princess Diana is well-known for wearing a tanzanite engagement ring, but she isn’t the only celebrity to wear tanzanite jewelry. Beyonce, Anne Hathaway, and Cate Blanchett are just a few famous celebrities who have opted for tanzanite over diamonds. Even the “Heart of the Ocean” in Titanic is believed to have been made from a tanzanite stone.
South African Port
If you’ve never heard of South African Port before, don’t worry: you’re not alone! Port typically comes from Porto in Portugal and, if you’re based in Europe, you’ll probably have only ever seen Portuguese Port. But Portugal isn’t the only other country to produce Port wine: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa all produce Port wines as well.
Of course, South African Port can’t actually be called Port. You’ll see it being sold under names like “Cape Ruby” or “Cape Tawny,” although older bottles may still have the word Port on them.
It’s tempting to think of non-Portuguese Port as being less than, but actually South African Port is pretty good! Definitely worth picking up a bottle or two!
South African Wine
While South African Port may not be well-known around the world, but South African wine definitely is. Winemaking in this part of the world dates back as far as the 17th Century, and since then South Africa has gained a reputation as a top-quality wine producer.
Grapes to seek out in South Africa include Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and Chardonnay. It’s also worth picking up a bottle of Cap Classique.
Cap Classique is South African champagne. It’s made using the same traditional method, but due to EU laws can’t be called champagne. Look out for bottles that contain Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier as this will have the most resemblance to champagne.
If you’re not a big wine drinker, you could pick up a bottle of Amarula instead. Amarula is a cream liquer made with cream, sugar, and the fruit of the African marula tree, which is found all over South Africa. It can be enjoyed neat or over ice and makes a fantastic gift for someone with a sweet tooth.
Have you visited South Africa? Where did you visit, and what did you bring home? Let us, and other readers, know about your experience by leaving a comment below.