Mariage Frères Paris: Tea for Tu ·

Mariage Frères Paris: Tea for Tu

Of the thousands of restaurants in Paris, there is one that stands out as a special dining experience unlike any other in the French capital. Among tea connoisseurs, Mariage Frères is famous throughout the city―and the world―for the quality and variety of its teas. Hundreds of teas from plantations across the globe can be found in the aromatic boutique on rue du Bourg Tibourg in the chic Marais district. If stepping into the shop seems like a step back in time, it may be because modern-day consumers have become accustomed to indifferent sales staff, or none at all. At Mariage Frères, customers are greeted as they enter the historical shop and are assisted by expert staff who know everything about tea. There are hundreds of teas to choose from behind the service counter, all stored in the company’s immediately recognisable black canisters with parchment-coloured labels. Among other tea-related products to be purchased here are exquisite pots and cups as well as fragrant tea jams that make a start to the morning that much more Parisian long after the return home.

If the Mariage Frères boutique appears to be a deluxe gift shop in a museum of tea, that is almost the truth. The spiral staircase in the entrance area leads up one storey to a beautiful and evocative series of rooms displaying items related to the history of tea. In today’s disposable world, the quaint chests and utensils meant to serve very specific functions in the service of tea are now relics of a time (not so) long ago, serving as nostalgic reminders of life in another century.

While some customers take in the perfumed scents of the various teas at the service counter, others enjoy the speciality of the house throughout the day in the atmospheric tea salon. The Mariage Frères salon de thé is hallowed ground in Paris; locals and visitors alike clamour for the chance to sample the many teas available to drink as well as the dishes listed on an interesting menu that incorporates tea into delicious meals and sweets served by another team of friendly staff. The signature Snob Salad (so unique the name is trademarked) is one of the most popular items on the menu, though the extraordinary desserts with tea as ingredient are also likely to leave a lasting impression. Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of patrons are not elderly ladies who lunch but a rather more youthful clientele embracing the pleasures of tea with friends. Reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends.

Though the Mariage Frères boutique and tea salon in the Marais is the company’s flagship location, it maintains a few other shops around Paris on Place de la Madeleine, rue Faubourg St-Honoré, and the Left Bank where a taste of tea is waiting to seduce the tastebuds. Further afield are salons in London and Tokyo, but these days people all over the world order Mariage Frères products online for delivery of a little bit of Paris right to their doorstep.

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