My friend Travis and I take the TGV up to Paris to attend a bloggers picnic in Buttes Chaumont. (What a well kept Parisian secret this beautiful park, designed by Baron Haussman, is). First stop is the Mariage Freres shop in the Marais. It is ironic really, that the best tea shop in the world is in France, which is of course, a country of coffee-drinkers. Shopping at Mariage Freres (there are several boutiques in Paris) is always such a fantastic experience: you step into the cool, dark interior, where the assistants are dressed in pale colonial style suits, and the air is perfumed with a sweet green melange of of over 500 exotic teas.
As usual here, I am overcome by a wave of consumerism and end up buying four different types of tea, including Boudha Bleu (a non-bitter green tea with fruit notes), Marco Polo Vert (a a delicious tea with a bouquet of vanilla and fruit), and a tin of white tea hand tied in little boules, which open up like a lotus flower when you drop one into hot water. I will never get through all this tea – not in five years. But it doesn’t matter. As one of my French friends domiciled in the UK points out, you can never have too much Mariage Freres, as you can always gift it on, tea from MF being one of the chicest offerings around at the moment, if you are visiting friends in London. Travis discovers that for an extra four or five euros, you can have the tea dispensed into a chic little black canister, so that it lasts much longer. Well, at least I know for next time.