Teatime at Laduree. Photo: 4.bp.blogpsot.com
by Sally Peabody, Your Great Days in Paris
We all know that Paris is famed for its alluring wines, rich dark chocolates, redolent cheese and buttery croissants… but fine tea? Who knew?
In fact, Paris’ numerous tea salons and tea shops offer the widest and best selection of top quality teas from growers around the world, carefully selected, served and sold with savoir-vivre. Choose from salons and shops that offer elegant second-empire style gilded decor, sleek contemporary spaces, or cozy stone-walled nooks. Tea-drinkers have their pick of memorable spots to stop and sample delicious teas from around the world. The Paris tea scene abounds with fascinating artisans who are dedicated to their chosen métier— and to offering the best-of-the-best to those who share their passion.
What distinguishes the French Art of Tea from the British or Asian traditions? Simple. It’s all about style, attitude and attention to quality. There is the tea and the setting of course. But Paris’ tea salons are also uniquely social spaces, as central to quotidian Parisian life as cafés, wine bars, and bistros. Patisserie and food (if served) is reliably top-notch. Tables are generally well spaced. The ambiance encourages conversation and relaxation. And you can enjoy incredible pure and blended teas sourced from all over the tea-growing world.
These salons provide the perfect place to relax and enjoy a light lunch or an afternoon tea-and-patisserie. Some are sophisticated, while others are funky, friendly spots. After a long morning of site-seeing, families with travel-weary children would be wise to stop into a salon for some reviving tea or rich chocolat chaud.
Whether it’s Mariage Frères, the venerable Parisian tea purveyor with shops and salons in the Marais and St. Germain; Mme. Tseng’s serene La Maison des Trois Thés near Place Monge, offering well over 500 of the finest Chinese and Taiwanese teas (including some of the rarest and priciest in the world); Carol Neigar of Chajin, who serves and sells only revelatory first-flush Japanese green teas in an intimate shop just steps away from the Place de la Madeleine; or Kusmi on rue de Seine in the 6th, with their historic thés russes— these are artisans whose work is to be experienced and enjoyed!
So remember, there’s more to Paris than cheese and wine. Next time you’re in town, set aside some time to take a memorable and delectable tour de thé.
Sally Peabody is a Paris Specialist. Her company, Your Great Days in Paris, is dedicated to helping travelers make the most of their time in Paris. Her blog is all about enjoying Paris–on and off the Beaten Path: http://peabodysparis.blogspot.com
Edited by Tory Hoen for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.