There are so many ways to bring a little touch (or taste) of France to your own home.
When I was in Provence in April, I had a "foodie" conversation with Christine, the owner of the B&B where MH and I were staying. Christine shared her views on the French love of food and drink and the emphasis they place on purchasing the best quality of foods available and the preparation of the freshest meals possible. The French eat "what is fresh and in season." The time of year dictates what is available; thus, what is prepared. Food is a priority, with time and money spent on creating memorable meals. A meal is to be savored, eaten leisurely with passion and gratitude.
For the tea lover in France, Mariage Frères teas are the finest.
If you are a tea lover, you'll find great pleasure in a cup of Mariage Frères tea. At first glance you might mistake these teas as "marriage" teas (as I have to admit I did!) - they are not. "Mariage" is the family surname, "Frères" means "Brothers." In France, Brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage would become known as the premier importers of teas and the preeminent wholesale tea merchant to retailers, hotels and tea rooms.
On their website, www.mariagefreres.com, you can read about the extensive, multi-generational passion for tea held by the Mariage family. This passion culminated in the founding of the Mariage Frères tea company in Paris on June 1, 1854. Another 130 years later, Mariage Frères began selling "to the public" both in retail locations and by mail-order. Today, Mariage Frères offers more than 500 high quality teas, exclusive teapots, and other tea paraphernalia in their Tea Emporiums and Tea Salons in France, Germany and Japan.
This picture, reproduced from the Mariage Frères website, shows one of the tea counters in a Mariage Frères Tea Emporium. Here, on this "wall of tea," you can choose among 600 tins of tea and tea blends imported from over 30 tea producing countries.
Because of the huge selection, you may want to allow ample time if you visit a Tea Emporium!
Do you want a White, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black, Mature, Tea Blend, Flavored or Fruit Tea?
Do you want your tea from China, Formosa, India, Nepal, Ceylon, Japan, the Golden Triangle, Vietnam, other Asian Countries, Asia Minor, Latin America, Africa or Oceania?
And now to the tea's "main flavor," do you want Bergamot/Earl Grey, Jasmine, Flowery, Fruity, Citrusy, Vanilla Flavored, Spicy Flavored, Malty, Almond Milk or Lilly of the Valley Flavored or Smoked?
Do you like a Morning, Daytime or Evening blend?
Do you want your tea loose leaf, in a brick, sachet or packet?
And lastly, would you like it presented in a Metallic Tin, Decorator Canister, Glass Case or Lacquer Box?
How can you ever decide? So much wonderfulness from which to choose!
Mariage Frères tea houses are said to be perhaps the finest tea houses in the world. They are decorated to evoke images of colonial days greeting guests with the simple elegance of tables covered in white linen, dark wood furniture and large, lush green palms.
In my quest to enjoy this small "taste" of France, I set out to find a local retailer of these wonderful teas. They can be ordered from multiple sites on the Internet, including "The Cultured Cup" located in Dallas, Texas. Or, if you are like me and are too impatient to order them, you can find a couple of Mariage Frères teas at Williams-Sonoma. With two Mariage Frères teas in my local Williams-Sonoma store from which to choose, I selected the Darjeeling Princeton - a daytime tea!
Mariage Frères Darjeeling Princeton tea in a beautiful black canister.
Loose tea leaves.
My little collection of antique silver tea strainers. The French tea strainer hanging from the teapot was purchased several years ago from a vendor at the Brocante Market in Nice, France. I had never seen one like this before!
I hope you enjoyed this!
Au revoir, Mitty