The popularity of the Abbesses neighborhood and its village-like atmosphere has made the area a well loved destination for tourists. The neighborhood’s popularity has led to higher rents forcing some of the independent shops of Abbesses close their doors only to be replaced by bland franchised stores found all over in France.
Despite this sad reality, a few specialty shops are able to stay true to the authentic quirky Montmartrois spirit.
Nestled on rue de Martyrs, Neo. T. is a tiny tea shop that brims with carefully sourced teas from small producers, sold along with tea making accessories and cute oriental knickknacks.
Behind the lilac-colored façade, former journalist Valerie Stalport, who traded in a career in writing in order to dedicate herself to her lifelong fascination with China and its tea culture. Neo. T. stocks over a hundred varieties of teas from China, Japan, Taiwan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Although the pale-green tea caddies that line an entire wall of the boutique carry tea from all origins, the focus of Neo. T. is on green tea.
Stalport imports varieties for everyday use, but also selects more unusual, high-end teas like Xi Hu Long Jing, grown near the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, which is among the most renowned green teas in the country. The leaves are hand-flattened before being roasted in a wok just a few hours after picking. The result is a delicate aroma of chestnut and peach, with none of the bitterness associated with ordinary green teas.
When I visited, on a sweltering hot day, I was steered toward Kukicha, a delicate organic tea from a family-owned plantation in the Miyazaki prefecture on Kyushu, the most southwesterly of Japan’s four main islands. The bright green, needle-shaped leaves can be steeped in cold water overnight to produce a perfectly refreshing iced tea with a tangy, grassy flavor-perfect for scorching summer weather in Paris.
Mindful of the soaring temperature outside, I was almost tempted by the selection of dainty oriental fans that Stalport brings back from her travels along with assorted tea gadgets like flowery enamel flasks from China, colorful tea caddies, matcha whisks and a variety of small objects – like the adorable maneki-neko cat figurines from Japan – that would be perfect for a last-minute present.
For those unable to travel to Abbesses, the carefully edited selection of teas and gifts is only a click away on the Neo. T. website.
Neo. T. – 89 rue des Martyrs, 75018 Paris, Métro: Abbesses (ligne 12). +33 (0) 1 53 41 69 76. Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 19:30, Sunday 15:00 – 19:00.
- For more Japanese tea, head to Umami Matcha Café.
- Need something to accompany your tea? Check out Mesdemoiselles Madeleines.
- For the top 10 best tea rooms in Paris, go to Sortir À Paris.