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Story of French Tea

A sharp contrast to Indian teatime, the ritual in France is more akin to a 'le quatre heures' or Afternoon Tea at Four O'Clock. Served with 'not just tea', there is coffee, fruit juice, cake and a selection of cookies.

Tea came to the west with the sea traders around XVIIth century. Engaged in trade with the orient, these merchants would bring back silk, porcelain, jewels, tea and spices among others. Tea came to France through Dutch traders in the middle of seventeenth century. Considered an aristocratic luxury at the time, it was more expensive than silver. Many a cup of fine tea were enjoyed in the afternoon in the social settings of the noble class. It was considered an occasion to partake with children.

Even though introduced around the same time, Coffee enjoyed a stronger and durable hold over the nation that already boasted an established wine culture. The development of Café culture led to the burgeoning French affinity for coffee than for tea, the latter being more of beverage to be enjoyed in the salon. Since café were serving wine and liquor as well, so coffee seemed to have developed a stronger bond with this wine consuming nation. Tea drinking got relegated to the realm of a loyal few.

It was not until the beginning of the XXth century that the tea culture got its revival. The first Salon de Thé (tea room) had its humble beginnings in what is now the W.H. Smith bookstore on rue du Rivoli in Paris. Learn more.

I shall come back my musings on tea one of these days, when a nice cuppa inspires another humble ode to this nectar of life...

 

 

French Tea Time

Some Tea-shops in Paris

There are quite a few tea specialty stores in Paris offering a selection of loose and packed tea and accessories. Most of them have online boutiques as well.

 

Mariage Frères

Literally translated to Mariage Brothers, these tea merchants are the oldest in Paris, running their tea business for more than a century and a half! Promoting the idea of the French Tea, which is not a reference to any home grown tea, but the French salute to the refined taste of tea from anywhere in the world.

With as many as 6 boutiques where one can buy and taste tea, Mariage Frères also allows you to order your favourite gourmet tea from the comfort of your home through its website.

Official website of Mariage Frères (in English, French and Japanese)

 

L'autre Thé

A collection I discovered during last year's Christmas market at Boulogne near Paris, l'autre thé offers a nice selection of teas, mélange and accessories, from their boutique or website.

17, rue Lacharrière, 75011 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 78 56 21 56

Website of L'Autre Thé (in French)

 

Le Palais des Thés

4 boutiques and tea-rooms in Paris and an online store

25 Rue Raymond Losserand, 75014 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)
1 43 21 97 97

Website of Le Palais de Thé (in English)

 

Le Parti du Thé

For in-boutique shopping or online ordering.

34, rue Faidherbe 75011 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 43 72 42 04

Website of Le Parti du Thé (in French)

 

Kusmi Tea

2 stores in Paris, online shopping available.

75 Avenue Niel, 75017 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 27 91 46

Website of Kusmi Tea (in English and French)

 

L'Empire des Thés

101 Avenue Ivry, 75013 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 45 85 66 33

Website of L'Empire des Thés (in English and French)

 

La Route Des Comptoirs

41 rue Dautancourt, 75017 Paris
Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 26 34 34

Website of La Route des Comptoirs (in English, Spanish and French)

 

A collection of my favourite Quotations on Tea:

"Rejoice in everything. If you rejoice in everything, even a cup of tea starts having great significance"- Osho

"...Tea, even the ills from coffee spring repairs
Disclaims its vices and its virtues share."- Laureant Tate

"...flooding my soul that its delicate bitterness reminds me of after taste of a good counsel" -Waan Yüan Ch'i

"Matrons who toss the cup, and see
The grounds of fate in grounds of Tea"- Churchill

"You may laugh at us for having "too much tea", but may we not suspect that you of the west have "no tea" in your constitution?"- Kakuzo Okakura

"Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind."- Confucius

"The gentle fair on nervous tea relies
Whilst gay good-nature sparkles in her eyes."- Crabbe

"a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely any time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea, welcomes the morning."- Samuel Johnson

"...I am glad I was not born before tea."- Sydney Smith

"Unless tea becomes divine, you will not be divine..."- Osho

You might also like to read:

My first evening in Paris

Story of Indian Tea