Tag Archives: Mariages Freres

A Voting Moment

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Trazzler, but it’s a pretty cool travel site that gives brief descriptions of “Travel Moments.” Just my style!

I’ve entered my Mariage Freres Moment in their Reader’s Choice contest, and though a little late to the voting game, I still have 24 hours to get your votes. So, if you’d like to show some tea travel love, click on this link to sign up and cast your vote.

Cheers!

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A Disappointing Moment

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.

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Look at her. So hopeful.

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.

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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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