It may surprise you to learn that ladies in Paris were drinking tea twenty years before their London friends, but tea has never been as synonymous to French culture as it is to British life. Because it is so common to British routine, drinking tea is often taken for granted. English tastes lean toward a preference for brewing a small selection of well-known black teas, usually in inexpensive tea bags with the addition of milk.
If you want to immerse yourself into the history of tea in France, you can easily begin at 30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg, the main retail store of the venerable tea merchant, Mariage Frères. There is no better-known name in French tea culture. This world-class tea purveyor has five locations with nearly 500 teas on the menu. Each has row upon row of antique tea canisters to discover
and an interesting tea museum to keep you occupied while you wait for a table in the tea room. There’s even a location in the Louvre. Be assured, every pot will be perfectly brewed and decanted by their white-coated wait staff.
Whether you visit the galleries of the Louvre or the D’Orsay, you’re not far from one of Paris’s oldest and best-known tea salons, Angelina. Since 1903, it has hosted such luminaries as Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel in a regal setting. The interior is reminiscent of a gilded chocolate box, with its mirrored walls and gold piping, and the pale, lime green fabric lining all the shelves.
|Anglina founded in 1903|
If you find yourself across the River Seine from the Eiffel Tower, stop by Carette at Trocadero Place for a 1930’s tea experience accompanied by freshly made madeleines or palmières in a relaxed atmosphere.
Other off-the-beaten-path tea haunts are chintz filled Les Nuits des Thés where the owner’s dog greets you at the door and joins you at the table – if invited; Place Numéro Thé, located near Sainte-Chapelle and run by a young woman who is passionate in her devotion to tea.
The tea scene in Paris, like London and New York, is showing great vitality these days as the face of tea continues to change. This is due to the growing acceptance of tea traditions from across the globe and an awareness, often on the part of an increasingly younger demographic, that tea is a healthy and affordable beverage.
After all, they’ve been brewing tea correctly here for nearly 400 years and you know it’s only going to get better!
|Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles|
Tea books by Bruce Richardson
Photos and text are Copyrighted Property of Bruce Richardson and are not intended for further use without the expressed permission of Benjamin Press.