Forget coffee. Tea is the smart drink in Paris, and Darjeeling is the smartest of them all...
Paris caters particularly well for tea drinkers and visitors are encouraged to try the selection at Le Palais des Thés (located throught the city). They have dozens and dozens on display, mostly available as samples of leaves for looking at and smelling but there’s always a tea of the day to sample.
Tea-ophiles looking to experience some of the city's more historial heavyweights should head to Dammann, which opened in 1925, and the old firm of Kusmi Tea, begun by Pavel Kusmichoff in 1917. Mariage Freres at 13 rue des Grands Augustins is the city's oldest tea shop, dating back to 1854. Housed in a simple corner building that disguises the treasures inside, Mariage Freres still maintains a romantic 19th century energy complete with rich wooden floors and shelves stocked floor to ceiling with mysterious black canisters. Don't just ask for Darjeeling as there are dozens of choices, from different estates and from different seasons and pickings. Some of the most prized sell for 420EUR a kilo but the more modestly priced Ratnapura Orange Pekoe is a fine Ceylon that costs only 9.50EUR for a 100g tin.
Brunch at Mariage Freres is quite a feast. Le Classique (29EUR) features toasted brioche with tea jams, and a big square platter that holds scrambled eggs dusted with green tea salt in a coloured glass bowl, a fat roll of smoked salmon, four prawns, and a little green salad. Then comes a choice of patisserie, all of which come served with tea included. The chocolate tart includes Earl Grey, the fruit tart comes with a red tea glaze.
Late-rising visitors should trek to The Meurice, where Salvator Dali lived for a while. The hotel turns on an afternoon tea (count on 30 euros) daily, throwing in a choice of 13 choices that extends to white, green, black, red, and includes Pu-erh (the aged Chinese tea) for good measure.
The teas of Les Comptoirs Richard show up in many restaurants and cafes – at the bakery of Eric Kayser, for example – but for those wanting to taste through at least some of the range, head for the store in the rue de Cherche-Midi.
Those looking for a more afordable hit should head to restaurant L’Assiette, where a fine Darjeeling sells for only 4EUR for a small pot and blackboards list a variety of cheese.
Food & Drink
38 Rue de Sevres
+33 1 4439 8000
13 rue des Grands-Augustins
+33 1 4051 8250
15 Place des Vosges
+33 1 4804 9935
10 place de la Concorde
228 rue de Rivoli
181 rue du Chateau
+33 1 4322 6486