While most everyone is familiar with British tea, head just over the channel and you’ll find that France also has a long, centuries-old tradition of tea.
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The Tradition of Tea in France
Tea was enjoyed in the French courts, and was very much an upper class thing. But unlike in Great Britain, tea never really hit the masses, so it never gained widespread popularity.
Despite its more limited history in France, a stellar tea shop still exists today, Mariage Freres. Founded in 1854, Mariage Freres is a high-end, elegant tea shop, carrying unique blends and is the best place in Paris to buy tea. While tea lovers will adore this shop, even the less tea obsessed with appreciate the gorgeous design of the store, with the chic black tins adorning the walls.
Shopping Mariage Frere for Souvenir Tea and Gifts
French tea is a great unique souvenir gift. My next stop was London, so I was looking for a hostess gift for the friend I was staying with. “Don’t bring anything” my friend chided. But knowing my friend was a lover of tea, picking up some tea seemed hardly a gift, more like replenishing the pantry. My friend has excellent taste so I knew exactly where to shop– Mariage Frere.
At 40 euros, the tea gift was expensive, but I did pick out the extra fancy variety and had it packaged in the iconic black tins (you can opt for simpler packaging and blends for a less expensive price). Note: while my friend did like the tea, the Belgian chocolate and German gingerbread I brought were far more appreciated.
Visiting Mariage Frere in Paris is a fun experience, and while there are several shops, I went to the one conveniently located in the Place de la Madeleine, home of great shopping and department stores (see my full guide to shopping the La Madeleine area). The shopkeepers are excellent and knowledgable and asked all sorts of questions when I was stumped as to what kind of tea to buy.
Mariage Frere also sells tea accessories– elegant Elegant porcelain tea mugs with logos, sterling silver kettles, tea spoons and caddies and sticks of candy sugar.
Back home, drink your tea like the French do, in the afternoon, with a tasty French treat like a madeleine or financier.
Have you bought tea in Paris? Tell us about your favorite tea!