My poor, non-French people,
Stop thinking that the English, that strange but very polite people who eat boiled vegetables and never behead kings or queens, are the only ones to know about tea.
We French (and peeeeeerfect!) people also were able to colonize Asia (OK, it’s not something to be proud of at all, c’est vrai) and bring back spices and tea.
After all, we have Mariage Frères Tea!
Et c’est très bon…
Writing this post, I realize Mariage Frères tea was my first incursion into the world of luxury…
I will always remember my babysitter Aline, handing me the tea box to smell the precious perfume of Marco Polo tea.
It was so elegant, so refined…
Not the kind of tea you add milk and sugar to try and hide the acrid taste, the yellow label tea bags one I used to know!
and the label with the old pictures and references “les meilleurs crus, la grande tradition” (the best vintage, the grand tradition)…
I was already dreaming that I was somekind of a duchess, having this precious tea sent to me from “Les Indes” (Indias) to my Renaissance castle, for me to sip with my crinolined friends while savoring macarons and gossiping about the new mistress the King just took…
Well you know what, that’s exactly what I did a few days ago!
Ok, it wasn’t in my castle, but in the nice wood-panelled tea room of the Mariage Freres in le Marais, Paris.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing a crinoline either, but my mom and I are quite good at gossiping, so we were even…
And there were the financiers!
Basically, eating at Mariage Frères is now almost as interresting at discovering tea there: they are cooking a lot with tea, and it’s merveilleux.
Their brunch is great, but they are mostly famous for their Macha green tea madeleines and financiers.
Now the big thing about going to what they call their “Tea Emporium”, is of course to taste, smell, and talk about tea.
Their boutique looks like an old apothecary’s : dark wood shelves and boxes of tea everywhere. It’s forbidden to take any picture, but really I think it’s one of the things you have to do when in Paris.
I love how the sale-attendants can talk for hours about the difference between white and blue tea, or try to help you choose which tea you can take for what occasion and time of day.
My favorite at the moment comes in “Mousseline” tea bags, and is called “Alexandra David Néel“.
They had me just with the name ! If you’re looking for a great, French and perfect woman, then Alexandra David Néel is the one!
Quelle vie! What a life!
I guess the fact that Victor Hugo (“Les Misérables”, “Notre Dame de Paris”) told her bedtime stories when she was a kid had quite an influence on her…
She was a sucha great adventurer! The first one to visit Tibet and Lhassa when it was still forbidden to foreigners, she traveled all over Asia, and wonderfuly wrote about it.
She died at 101 years old, with still a very vivid spritit and philosophy. Love this video I just found where she explains what it’s like to be a buddhist, and be a century old…
This tea is as exotic and full of adventures as her life was.
I love drinking it en fin d’après midi, when the afternoon disappears… Somehow I hope that it inspires me and gives me the strength Alexandra David Néel had.
Who knows, I might end up as wise as her !
A bientôt les amis!