Outside, it is a large brown box of a building with character written on it and large "vitrines" showing a relatively simple interior and only a few tables. There is a doorbell that you must ring to be let into this safe haven.
Mr. K and I were quite intimidated at first, but we rang anyway and a very nice young man opened the door for us. Very polite (used the extreme polite version of French) and very charming, he welcomed us into the building. He said he could be our server that day, but by mistake I didn't hear server and thought he meant he would be taking care of us at the counter, so we stood there like lost children for a minute or three, utterly amazed at the size of the counter and the shelves of tea behind it.
From what we could see, the counter was an antique, stretching from one end of the building to almost the other end. They had old-fashioned scales with weights and deep scoops at one end and carbon-paper pads at the other. There had to have been about 100 boxes of tea on little tiny peg shelves behind the counter. Mr. K noted that the boxes were attached to the shelves by way of a little magnetic disk holding them fast. (I love my husband...he shows me the coolest things through his great attention to detail.)
A lady came to the counter and asked if we were being helped and if we wanted to look at some tea. Loving the warm hospitality and nice service, we said no and yes whereupon she asked us what tea we normally drank. "English Breakfast for me, and fruity for him!" my lips blurted out almost instantaneously. She laughed a tinkling laugh and said she had just the teas. Then she whisked away to the tea wall, hesitated merely 3 seconds and pulled two boxes down from the wall. The first tea was a honey apricot black tea from China. She said that the notes were subtle like a sunrise with gentle fruit notes that bloom when the water is the right temperature. She then showed us the tea in the huge scoop (very large leaves, delicately dried in the sun, we were told) and did it smell amazing. The second tea was lovely as well, but it was much too expensive, so that diminished the charm and smell.
We asked if there was one with a stronger fruit taste and smell, and away she went, back to the wall. This time she came back in 5 seconds with a white tea from China. She said that the tea was a delicate blend of white tea with rosebuds and apricot hand-rolled together to form little pearls. She scooped some out and immediately we smelled the heady aroma of the roses. She told us that the apricot and rose are beautiful together for a morning blend, or even as an after dinner tea, because the white tea has no caffeine.
She then told us that the store had 1000 teas. The "maitre de thé" has an orchard where she grows the tea herself and then brings it to Paris. The master is very concerned about quality and freshness, hence why she harvests the tea and grows it herself. We were told that she was in that day. Our helper pointed down the counter and there she was. I don't know who I thought I would see, but I can guarantee I didn't think she would be so lovely: a slight woman, with long black hair flowing down her back, beautiful almond eyes, and of an age that was indeterminable. The perfect picture of a tea master. She was helping other customers at the end of the counter, so we didn't get a chance to converse with her.
We felt as if we were in another world there. What was this place we had stumbled upon? An enchanting tea haven, safe and far from the maddening Paris crowd, where everyone was kind, patient, and generous. Where they let you take your time choosing tea and telling you little stories about everything?
Needless to say, when we left the tea house, we were a few euros lighter, but filled with tea knowledge and carrying two new teas to try: the honey black tea and the rose-apricot white tea . We were told that the best way to have it was to add the tea (5g), fill the pot 1/4 full with cold water, and then fill the rest of it with hot water.
So these are our new tea additions, nay, addictions!
|So pretty to look at, I hated cutting the tape to get into them. But they are soooo good!|
P.S. Mr. K had the white tea and said it was pretty good and fascinating. (I have never heard him say that about a tea!)