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Wholemeal Crank

Tea in France

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Actually, my current interest is narrower: fingers crossed but I may get to go to Paris on a business trip next month, and have a little free time to play. I have already got some pointers to the better chocolate places, but not as much information on tea shops that may be worth a visit. I have pretty good tea sources here in Los Angeles, so am mostly interested in places that would have unusual selections of teas or teawares--particularly chinese teas. Some of my tea-drinking colleagues are devoted to british-style teas, though, so a good selection of those would also be good.

Mariage Freres has been suggested by several different people, and though their web site is rather off-puttingly frou-frou (white tea buds harvested with golden scissors?!), multiple recommendations make it sound worth my while.

Any other suggestions?

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Any other suggestions?

Write Dorie Greenspan for recommendations as she lives some of her time in Paris.


edited for grammar & spelling. I do it 95% of my posts so I'll state it here. :)

"I have never developed indigestion from eating my words."-- Winston Churchill

Talk doesn't cook rice. ~ Chinese Proverb

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Jugetsudo, Maison des Trois Thés..


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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I only shop there to purchase high end teas. I am definitely not a client of tea salons

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I am afraid Paris is not the best place for serious tea drinkers who care about Chinese teas.

Here we're all stuck with the "salon de thé" tradition which can be nice but not exactly satisfactory for those who seek the real thing, and cute tea shops that reek of essence-flavored teas twenty feet away. Whatever good-quality pure origin teas you may find there you can't even sample properly because of the ambient perfumery smell that permeates everything. Flavored teas are the plague of French tea drinking and the trend does not seem to be receding any time soon.

Or you have places like Maison des Trois Thés with its impressive setting which imposed it as "authentic", where you'll find very overpriced, badly stored, disappointing stuff served with plenty of attitude. A feng huang dan cong sampled there tasted like old hay and an expensive aged pu-erh was definitely not what it was advertised to be.

You may still go to L'Empire des Thés (not Le Palais), with several shops in Paris (Chinatown in the 13e, Opéra, Montparnasse) which sell fairly decent pure origin teas directly imported from China (it was founded by tea importers), and my favorite tea place in Paris, Tch'a (rue du Pont-de-Lodi, 6e), with few teas but good ones, and IMO the only place where you can be served good tea in the gongfu style at your table. But I never buy tea in Paris anymore though I live there, I bring it back from China or I purchase it online from China too.

Paris has a better deal with Japanese teas (Toraya, Jugetsudo, Tamayura, etc.) but that is a totally different product whatsoever.

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>Whatever good-quality pure origin teas you may find there you can't even sample properly because of the ambient perfumery smell that permeates everything

This was my fear from the web site of Mariage Freres. I like a nice jasmine tea, but as I've been exploring the range of oolong teas more extensively, the rich floral flavors in the lighter green versions have me craving the jasmine less and less.

I am interested in learning more about japanese teas, but with very limited french this might not be the best use of my limited time in Paris.

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This was my fear from the web site of Mariage Freres. I like a nice jasmine tea, but as I've been exploring the range of oolong teas more extensively, the rich floral flavors in the lighter green versions have me craving the jasmine less and less.

I am interested in learning more about japanese teas, but with very limited french this might not be the best use of my limited time in Paris.

The bottom line, I believe, is that it would make no sense to come to Paris from afar and devote some of the precious time of your visit to seeking Chinese teas. On the other hand a stop in a Paris Japanese teahouse could be a lovely, delicate break in the course of a busy shopping or sightseeing, or even eating, day. We're better stocked with them than we are with anything related to Chinese tea culture. Which is why I believe it would make some sense to stop at Jugetsudo or Toraya for a cup of tea and a pastry.

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Aloha Steve, thanks for thinking of me, but this is really not an area I know well. Wholemeal Crank, it looks like you've found just the right guide in Chez Ptipois.

I hope you have a terrific trip and that find teas that you'll enjoy -- I know you'll find wonderful treats to go along with those teas.

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Surprisingly, the Mariage Frères in Tokyo provide a better experience than the maison mère in Paris; they are cleaner, the quality of the food is higher and the service is better.

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But I never buy tea in Paris anymore though I live there, I bring it back from China or I purchase it online from China too.

Interesting. Would you mind sharing which websites you use to order your Chinese tea?

And what about the customs? Don't the taxes drive up the cost prohibitively?

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Interesting. Maybe they have more competition in Tokyo, where there is already such a strong and distinct tradition of tea.

I dont' think that has anything to do with it. If it weren't clean, and if the service weren't good, Japanese people wouldn't go to a place like that. Japanese people like MF because of the atmosphere--it projects elegance and seems to epitomize the civilized western world (that's my take on the popularity, anyway).

FWIW, I love MF--at least the Japanese versions of it (I've only been to the Kobe, Kyoto, and the now defunct Osaka branches), but I wouldn't go there for Chinese teas, or even Japanese teas. Indian, yes. Flavoured teas, yes. Waiters in white linen suits, yes. Chinese and Japanese teas--not likely.

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Interesting. Would you mind sharing which websites you use to order your Chinese tea?

And what about the customs? Don't the taxes drive up the cost prohibitively?

I did not go any further on that because it was way off the "tea in Paris" topic. But I purchase my Chinese teas here. They have the best quality by far.

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Interesting. Would you mind sharing which websites you use to order your Chinese tea?

And what about the customs? Don't the taxes drive up the cost prohibitively?

I did not go any further on that because it was way off the "tea in Paris" topic. But I purchase my Chinese teas here. They have the best quality by far.

There is a great deal of information on ordering Chinese, Japanese and Indian teas on-line from various tea merchants in the Coffee & Tea Forum. As well as discussion of the teas, brewing, etc.

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I did step into a couple of tea stores, including Le Palais de Thes (may have gotten the spelling wrong), and one shop with a very beautiful selection of japanese teawares in another neighborhood, mostly to browse the tea wares rather than to buy tea. There were some beautiful things, euro-style and japanese, but didn't see anything obviously chinese except two probable yixing in what I think was a shop for chinese antiques--and those were 40-60 euros apiece. The teas themselves appeared to be quite expensive, so I decided to invest my limited time and capital on buying chocolates instead.

I did have a cup of tea on board my Air France flight, and it was a rather dilute european style tea that actually was quite nice, not bitter or astringent really at all. And I bought an electric kettle at Monoprix to brew my Tie Guan Yin in the mornings at my hotel.


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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There were some beautiful things, euro-style and japanese, but didn't see anything obviously chinese except two probable yixing in what I think was a shop for chinese antiques--and those were 40-60 euros apiece. The teas themselves appeared to be quite expensive, so I decided to invest my limited time and capital on buying chocolates instead.

Would you care to tell where that 'antique' shop was?

As far as I know, what you're describing sounds like La Maison des Trois Thés (expensive teas, antiques, etc.). The teapots there are not Yixing. They are taiwanese teapots sold with a very high markup. Last time I was there, the owner explained to me that they were not selling Yixing teapots because there was no clay left in Yixing (I instantly imagined the Earth globe with a bottomless hole on the spot of the Yixing region).


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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Would you care to tell where that 'antique' shop was?

As far as I know, what you're describing sounds like La Maison des Trois Thés (expensive teas, antiques, etc.).

I stayed at the Le Meridien Montparnasse, across from the Gare Montparnasse, and mostly walked between that and the river, with side trips to explore the local area a litte more, mostly heading west and north. I do not remember where that shop with chinese things including a couple of teapots was; I do not remember tea being in the name of the shop, but just that I saw two small, simple unglazed teapots with chinese characters on them in the window. I did not step into that store.

The other shop iu remember as something like Palais de Thes, as I passed it several times going between Hermes shop on rue Vaugirard and Poilane's boulangerie on Cherche-Midi, so it was on one of those streets. It was all tea and tea stuff, no sign of antiques. I may have gotten the name wrong.

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The tea shop was Palais des Thes

Le Palais des Thés, Paris 6th

61, rue du Cherche Midi

75006 Paris

I think the chinese shop was along the same route, but have no particular recollection of the name, and whether it was on Cherche-Midi, Vaugirard, or a street between those and my hotel.

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The other shop iu remember as something like Palais de Thes, as I passed it several times going between Hermes shop on rue Vaugirard and Poilane's boulangerie on Cherche-Midi, so it was on one of those streets. It was all tea and tea stuff, no sign of antiques. I may have gotten the name wrong.

Probably L'Empire des Thés on rue du Montparnasse. They are Chinese importers and they have some okay teas, though unfortunately they feel compelled to yield to the silly French craving for flavored teas.

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Does that look like a tea shop, or like an antiques shop?

This was more furniture and art, and I only noticed the teapots after I crossed the street to look into their window.

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