Tag Archives: breakfast blend

An Airplane Tea Service Moment

It has been my experience on most airlines that when it comes to tea, the typical service involves hottish water and a Lipton tea bag, or one of its near cousins.  So, imagine my surprise when on my maiden flight on Virgin America Airlines, when I asked for hot tea, I had the option of Teance Breakfast blend at no charge, or a green or white tea option for a small charge. Hallelujah! An airline who takes its tea a bit seriously. Although, being founded by Sir Richard Branson, an Englishman who surely values a proper cup of tea, this should come as no surprise.

 I had heard of Teance, but had not yet experienced them, so I greatly enjoyed this unexpected introduction to their artisanal teas. The Breakfast Blend was full bodied and clean, and it was so far away from the standard airline tea that I have to confess I had 3 cups. In addition to their fantastic tea, they also had some great snacks and meals for purchase. I opted for the Tapas plate that included a variety of cheeses, veggies, crackers and hummus. If you haven’t flown Virgin America before, I have to say I am inclined to bump them up above both Southwest and Jet Blue based on my round trip to Ft. Lauderdale.

They had the on time arrivals and departures that I love about Southwest, and they have the in-seat entertainment including satellite tv, games, and movies that I love about Jet Blue, but with the addition of a music feature that allows you to create your own playlist from an astonishing library of artists. But the best, and frankly the most efficient, feature was the ability to place your food or beverage order through your tv screen. So, after the beverage cart went through one time shortly after take off, the aisle was never blocked again as a result of ‘service.’ Instead, you could place any other orders through your screen, swipe your credit card there and then (if needed), and within 2 minutes, your order would be served to you at your seat with minimal disruption to you or the passengers around you. Brilliant!

My season of manic travel comes to a close in two weeks, and I am very happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Growing up, I always dreamed of a career that would take me on the road so I could see the country and the world. I’ve had that opportunity in spades within the past 4 months, and I can now say with much heartfelt enthusiasm that there is indeed no place like home!

An International Tea Moment now has a Facebook Page! http://www. facebook.com/TeaMoment. Share your tea moments with me there! 

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A Mariages Freres Moment

Ah, Paris! How I love thee! For our 10th wedding anniversary, Gene and I went to one of our favorite destinations – Paris. And while I have several adventures to report, I have to start with one of my favorite moments: a pilgrimage to Mariages Freres.

After hours of searching and searching for the elusive 30 Rue Bourg Tibourg, we found a mecca of tea experiences at this famous tea market and salon at 5 p.m. Upon arrival, we were immediately welcomed and ushered through the market and to the salon itself. This airy, British Colonial-feeling room let in showers of natural light from the skylight that was nearly the length of the room.  All the servers were wearing white linen suits, and they were just so nice!

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Black teas and green teas and white, oh my!

The menu, itself, was overwhelming – with hundreds of choices: white teas, green teas, black teas, breakfast teas, afternoon teas, evening teas, flavored teas… Where to begin??? I let myself off the hook and started with a time of day – Afternoon Teas. Even there, there were nearly 20 choices! So without dithering too much, I chose the “Gentleman” blend for Gene, and “Fils de France” for me.

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The blur you see is the master of tea!

Much to my delight, I was facing the counter at which the ‘brewmaster’ (my term, not theirs) was working his magic. His sole purpose was to take the tea orders, and brew the perfect pot of tea for each patron. It was a fascinating dance, and he did it with such ease and speed – he moved so quickly I couldn’t even get a good photo of him! Note the HUNDREDS of tea blends on the wall behind him.

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Fils de France

And so, our perfectly brewed pots of tea arrived at our table. While I expected a hearty black tea, mine showed up as such a light golden liquid, I wondered if I had inadvertently ordered a white. It was a Darjeeling blend, as it turned out, and had a quiet strength that I found quite lovely. Gene’s Gentleman blend was a dark, dark amber and presented itself as any manly man would – bold, confident, and direct.

The salon was hopping the entire duration of our visit. There was a constant flow of tea enthusiasts of all bents and backgrounds: families with children, old friends, the lone tourist, the gal pals, the comfortable couple.  There was no feeling of being rushed, and the constant flow worked perfectly with people waiting maybe 5 or 10 minutes at the most.

And then, the tea market. I felt like I had died and gone to tea heaven. The walls were lined with canister upon canister of tea. I boldly attempted to explain in French that I ‘searched for a strong, black tea. Stronger, even, than the Gentleman blend.’  ‘Ah,’ he said, nodding wisely, ‘a breakfast blend. A strong one.’ He turned to the wall, tapped his chin in thought, and then, with purpose and confidence, he reached for the bottom row, removed the front canister and reached into the depths. Finding his treasure, and with a triumphant smile, he removed the cover and presented The Duke of Wellington. I inhaled deeply, then Gene was offered a sniff. Grassy, earthy, heavy.Yes, please.

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So happy

It was the perfect experience. The perfect moment. Enjoying some of the best tea with the best possible company. Paris, je t’aime.

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A perfect moment

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