While my goal is to share the lovely tea moments I have encountered over the years, I’m breaking my own rules to share a rather disappointing tea moment while wandering the enchanting streets of Paris. As I shared, searching for, finding and experiencing Mariages Freres was one of our favorite moments of the trip. But just before that adventure, we found ourselves having quite a different adventure. While trying to find that inexplicably elusive 30 Rue Bourg Tibourg, we happened upon a narrow street that boasted Le Palais Des Thes. I recognized the name immediately, not knowing much about them, and thought at the time, “Well, if I can’t find Mariages Freres, this may be my silver lining!”
I had Gene take my photo outside before we went in, anticipating writing a glowing review of my experience.
We walked into the brightly lit store and were greeted by a very friendly woman who offered us a sample of tea. It was delicious. I noticed the woman was wearing an apron reminiscent of Tibetan monks’ attire, and thought, maybe she is sympathetic to their cause and this is her statement. Then I noticed all the employees (all 10 of them!) wearing the same tan, one shouldered smock/apron/habit. I began to browse the shelves upon shelves of tea blends, each with its own container you could lift the lid and sniff. As Gene pulled out the camera to start snapping photos to document my experience, a manager-type swooped over and put a stop to it. Very rudely and very insistently – no photos. I smiled politely and explained I write a tea blog and wanted to write about their store. He just stood there, arms crossed, shaking his head, no. Then he hovered with a scowl as I tried to smooth my own ruffled feathers, but there was no motivation to stay. I felt unwelcome. And as much as I wanted to enjoy the place, it did feel rather contrived with the over abundance of pseudo-monk employees and the brightly-lit, Ikea-esque displays.
I now know that this location is a part of an international chain. Almost a retail Starbucks for tea blends. Not that I have anything against chains. They are, after all, the fastest-growing tea retailer in France. A good tea blend is a good tea blend. I do have to wonder, however, what harm a photo of the place could have caused. Would I be inadvertantly documenting tea trade secrets? Would I be discovering things that one could not already discover just by visiting their website? Puh-lease.
And so, loathe as I am to promote any negativity where tea is involved, I have to give a thumbs-down to Le Palais des Thes. You very nearly spoiled my perfect day in which I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. Thankfully, Mariages Freres welcomed us with open arms and old world, authentic charm. Merci mille fois.