August 30, 2006

Mariage Frères

As we're coming to the end of our stay here in Paris, I thought it was about time to mention my love of Mariage Frères, makers of thé extraordinaire. The company was founded in 1854, but the family has experience with tea (and the French East India Company) from the 17th century. There are six lovely tea rooms in Paris and ten other locations in Japan, plus you can order their teas online.

I know a lot of people are already familiar with the greatness of Mariage Frères teas, but if you don't consider yourself a connoisseur of teas, perhaps you're wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, I don't really think I'm a connoisseur, either, but one sniff of these teas will set them apart. Their perfume is so powerful; you'll swear you can taste it! It will be forever burned into your nostrils so that if you were to, say, smell an old bag of Lipton, you'd think it had no smell at all. You will be intoxicated by the glorious scents of these teas. It was Paul's mom that first told me about these teas and I'm so glad I followed up on her advice!

One of their top selling teas, Marco Polo, is a black tea with red fruity undertones, which is very satisfying as a morning cup. It was a revelation to me the first time I tasted it. It's smooth, yet slightly acidic from the fruit flavors, but is very well balanced. Marco Polo also comes in a red version and a green tea version. I always bring a few boxes back for my family.

It may look plain, but the blueish tint is gorgeous...

The summary on the website describes it roughly as this: The uncontested success of Mariage Frères, this secret mixture will make you travel to the most remote and mysterious regions. The scents of flowers and fruits of China and Tibet converge to form a single velvety flavor. An extraordinary bouquet for the most mythical of scented teas. Wow...

However, my favorite has to be a flavor called Pleine Lune. It's a black tea with toasted almonds, spices, and honey. Oh! It is simply the best thing I've ever smelled. Better than fresh bread baking or chicken roasting. Or bacon frying...well, hold on a minute. Maybe bacon is slightly better. Anyway, let's hear what those Frères says about it:

Splendeur de la pleine lune. Inspiré de l’astre lunaire, royaume des rêves et des chimères, ce mélange poétique réunit les parfums symboliques de la fête de la pleine lune : les fruits, les épices rares, l’amande et le goût sucré du miel. Thé de lumière.

It celebrates splendor of the full moon, the lunar stars, and the kingdom of dreams. This poetic mixture unites the perfumes of the symbolic festival of the full moon: fruits, rare spices, almonds and the sweetness of honey. Tea of light.

Well, how beautiful. I don't know what more I can say! If you are ever in Paris, spend an afternoon sipping in their salon de the, or sniffing at one of their counters! (Try the Galeries Lafayette Maison on Blvd Haussmann.) Loose tea drinkers can buy 100 g for around 6-7 € or a fancier canister for around 10-12 €. They also sell boxes of 30 high quality tea bags for 11.50 € for those without a proper tea pot. A bit expensive, maybe, but once you try it, you won't ever go back. Their teas certainly make beautiful gifts, too.


Tanna said...

I will be sure to check this one out the end of September! Love tea - favorite right now is green Earl Gray.
Wish you'd still be there.

Megan said...

Tanna - You won't be sorry you did, I know it! I know a few other people I'll be missing this fall in Paris - bad timing! Some day, huh? =)

Tea said...

Put MF tea on the list of things you are going to miss from Paris. It can be bought here, of course, but there's nothing like the experience of walking into one of their stores and breathing deep the aroma.

Ay, I miss that.

Anonymous said...

I found out about MF through Rick Steves' book and made sure I went there. And boy was I not disappointed! The shop was packed with locals and tourists alike, eager to buy the loose teas from those huge black canisters. The aromas were heavenly. I regret having bought the tea in tins, but will surely buy by weight next time. I bought the Esprit de Noel flavor for the holidays. And also the French Breakfast Tea, which is thoroughly enjoyable as well. Definitely a place to re-visit when I return to Paris.