Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thé, thé, et plus thé!

Aujourd'hui (today) Carla et moi went to our favorite tea shop in the world, Mariage Frères. The history of this business stretches back to 1660 -- about three centuries before Ronald Reagan became the 33rd Governer of California. Mariage Frères literally has several walls of tea literally manned (there are no females) by professionally trained tea sellers who keep the line moving fast.

Their most excellent walls of tea. We could stay here all day sampling.

They even had special tea wrapped in 24 karat gold leaf. The least expensive of these is priced at 400 Euros per 100 grams. My palette is not that rich.

When it was our turn we were helped by a very knowledgeable (and patient) man, who let us smell several teas before buying. Carla bought some French Blue (a variation of Earl Gray) -- a tea we enjoyed during our visit in 2007. She also bought some interesting green tea with lavender and rose. Pour moi, I wanted only extremely stinky teas for my advanced palette, i.e., smoked teas, and teas that smell like a moist barnyard. This means a souchong and a mature pu-erh. I bought some "Terry Souchong", which is described: A large-leaf tea impregnated with smoke from special, rare Formosan woods. Heavily smoked, giving a special aroma and flavour. Highly appreciated by connoisseurs of smoky teas. Excellent accompaniment to English-style breakfasts. I am excited to give it a try tomorrow morning at our brunch with our BFFs.

Then we got a real treat. We got to smell pu-erh from 1988. (Pu-erh, like wine, is often categorized by its age.) My face lit up until I learned that 100 grams would cost me 55 Euros. Instead he found me a 1998 vintage (24 Euros per 100 grams), which is described: This 10-year-old vintage with broad, brown leaves yields a highly aromatic cup that features flowery notes with mineral accents; its warm, sustained, balanced flavour is slightly sweet and enveloping even while remaining alive and lightly astringent.

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