– Henri Mariage
I am a tea person and now bringing to you, what I consider the most fragrant and pleasant moment with a cup of tea.
During one of visits to Paris, my friend had noticed how excited I was about a cup of tea we were having at the local bistro. The flavour was exquisite, the packaging (little muslim bags) very lovely and the whole presentation made me feel really special (like visiting Paris is not enough). He then took me to the shop that quite simply changed my view of the tea world….At that time I have been living in the UK, where the traditonal cup of tea consisted of a low quality black tea with milk. Not my cup of tea. Back to the wonderful tea shop experience, you might have guessed it by now, it was Mariage Frères. This fine establishment had its beginnings in 1854 and it occupies shops in France, Japan, Germany and UK. I have visited several of the Parisian shops and the counter in London. They have the same design, where beautiful wooden shelves filled with hundreds types of tea are being presented by handsome young men in linen suits. Tall, dark tins of tea, theme museum and the cafe, where one can taste various teas. Here is what Mariage Frères says about their Tea Emporium, which I think summarises it perfectly: “The tea counters, surrounded by the “walls of tea ” made of more than 600 “tea merchant ” large and high layered tins, enclose rare and fine treasures. In addition to the greatest flushes arriving from 30 tea producer countries, you can find there, Mariage Frères’ famous blends. The choice, probably the largest in the world, still grows richer with new discoveries for the tea connoisseurs, exemplifying the strength of a French Art of Tea that Mariage Frères represents and successfully exports in the whole world. Ancient furniture and massive oak counters display many collections of teapots of all styles, shapes and origins, all the paraphernalia, from the tea-services to the tea caddy-spoons, filters, tins, tea gift sets, incenses, tea scented candles. Not forgetting, of course, the gourmand delights created by Mariage Frères: tea-jellies, tea-sablés (shortbreads), Chocolats des Mandarins® which recipes were already in our tea house last century.” Teas can be purchased loose, packed in beautiful cans or in the elegant muslim bags, perfectly measured amount to ensure delightful cup of tea. One thing I strongly encourage you to do before brewing your tea, inhale it! Opened box of tea/ready muslim bag, just inhale the lovely fragrance, look at the leaves and flowers, enjoy every moment.
“This perfect marriage of great and elegant black teas produces a rounded taste of malt and chocolate. Its highly developed flavour is both powerful and refined. A felicitous blend in the best tradition of the French art of Tea.”
This particular tea is my absolute nr 1 on any occasion. A very luxurious daily treat.
Marco Polo, ” Mariage Frères’ overwhelming success is a mysterious blend that will take you to distant lands and unforeseen territories. Fragrances of Chinese and Tibetan flowers lend it a uniquely velvety taste. Its extraordinary bouquet makes Marco Polo the most legendary of flavoured teas.”
Indeed, this marvellous fruity & flowery black tea had made me change my mind about the fruity teas all together.
Having been drinking paper tasting black tea with lemon, the whole new experience had come to my senses.
Russian Star, a staple in my tea cupboard. It grassy, floral notes complement the sharp, slightly spicy and peppery overtones of bergamot, modulated by refreshing, caressing harmonies of a range of fruit-lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit. Delicate and fragrant, this tea had enchanted some of friends with the most refined taste palate.
One of the greatest pleasures of mine, an afternoon tea.
Here is Wikipedia’s definition , but what is the most important…the right kind of tea!
Cream tea– Afternoon tea is a light meal typically eaten between 4 pm and 6 pm. Observance of the custom originated amongst the wealthy classes in England in the 1840s. Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is widely credited as transforming afternoon tea in England into a late-afternoon meal whilst visiting Belvoir Castle, though Charles II of England’s wife Catherine of Braganza is often credited with introducing tea to the court upon her arrival in 1662. By the end of the nineteenth century, afternoon tea developed to its current form and was observed by both the upper and middle classes: “the table was laid… there were the best things with a fat pink rose on the side of each cup; hearts of lettuce, thin bread and butter, and the crisp little cakes that had been baked in readiness that morning.”
Traditionally, loose tea is brewed in a teapot and served with milk and sugar. The sugar and caffeine of the concoction provided fortification against afternoon doldrums for the working poor of 19th and early 20th century England, who had a significantly lower calorie count and more physically demanding occupation than most Westerners today. For labourers, the tea was sometimes accompanied by a small sandwich or baked snack (such as scones) that had been packed for them in the morning. For the more privileged, afternoon tea was accompanied by luxury ingredient sandwiches (customarily cucumber, egg and cress, fish paste, ham, and smoked salmon), scones (with clotted cream and jam, see cream tea) and usually cakes and pastries (such as Battenberg cake, fruit cake or Victoria sponge). In hotels and tea shops, food is often served on a tiered stand; there may be no sandwiches, but bread or scones with butter or margarine and optional jam or other spread, or toast, muffins or crumpets. It was the emergence of afternoon tea that saw Britain regard biscuits as something dunked in tea; a British custom that was later exported around the globe.
High tea (also known as meat tea or tea time in Ireland) usually refers to the evening meal or dinner of the working class, typically eaten between 5 pm and 7 pm.
High tea typically consists of a hot dish, followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam. Occasionally there would be cold cuts of meat, such as ham salad. The term was first used around 1825, and high is used in the sense of well-advanced (like high noon, for example) to signify that it was taken later in the day than afternoon tea; it was used predominantly by the working class and in certain British dialects of the north of England and Scotland.
In Australia any short break for tea in the afternoon is referred to as “afternoon” tea. As a result, the term “High tea” is used to describe the more formal affair that the English would call “Afternoon tea”