Product Review – Fine Tea
As simple as the philosophy of tea is, it’s still a beverage with a history that is mired in legend. Although general agreement would suggest that tea was born roughly 5,000 years ago in the east, there are various myths which surround its actual conception, from an accidental brewing of leaves falling from a tea, to the darker story of a man burying his eyelids as punishment for falling asleep, only to discover them sprouting up into a tree whose leaves alleviate tiredness. I quite like that last one.
The idea of tea didn’t arrive in the west until much later, around the 17th century, and only after it diffused through the ancient Orient and Arabia through trade routes. The Mariages Frères ’ interest in tea started generations ago, and developed into their self-appointed ‘French Art of Tea’. I’ve tried a few of the teas from Mariages Frères, and can safely attest to their quality.
It’s hard to pick a favourite – and I’m not usually someone with an inability to rank things. The first tea I try is the ‘I Have A Dream’ blend, presented in a brushed steel canister of rosy gold, decorated with a sunset-hued paper label which is embossed with gold flourishes across a rainbow myriad of orange and pink. This is a gorgeous black tea with citrusy notes of lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit, mandarine and yuzu, and every sip is pure, citrusy, sparkly heaven.
Next up is the equally fabulous Mouton tea from the ‘Des Signes’ set, a range that celebrates various Japanese New Year’s. Said to represent the Year of the Sheep, there is nothing shy or retiring about the ‘Mouton Des Signes’ tea canister. Housed in a jade green tea canister, the loose leaf blend is composed of green tea, winter white melon, jasmine flowers and goji berries. It manages to be both fruity and yet dry on the palate, and it reminds me of bubblegum – in a very good way.
From the ‘Iconic’ canister collection we have the ‘Rouge Ruschka’ blend of rare red rooibos tea from the plateaus of South Africa. Inside are also flecks of red and black berries as well as the enlivening sharpness of lime, orange, grapefruit and bergamot. As rooibos is naturally caffeine free, the ‘Rouge Ruschka’ has fast become my favourite after work treat.
The last tea, that I just can’t resist trying, is the luscious ‘Macaron’ tea from the ‘Héritage Gourmand’ tea range, housed in a silver canister with a neon pink label, that is embossed with more silver detailing. You see now, why I must have it. The ‘Héritage Gourmand’ collection of teas are a range evocative of sweet treats and childhood necessities, and although I didn’t discover the precious macaron until my early twenties, I do love this tea. Creamy and biscuity, this black tea has great depth to it that is almost as fulfilling as chewing on the actual pastry.
Mariage Freres also produce beautiful ceramics and glassware from which to sip their beverages, and the gold leaf tea bowls are stunning. There are also a range of tea flavoured chocolates, which taste so much better than they sound. I couldn’t possibly love, or faster consume, a 16-strong box of ‘Chocolat des Mandarins’, made up of chocolate ganache pieces elevated with the toasty notes of tea leaves from China and Tibet.
If you feel like trying out the gorgeous products from Mariage Freres, then a comprehensive selection is available on the lower ground floor of Selfridges and includes the ‘Iconic’ range at £15 each, the ‘I Have A Dream’ blend at £25 and the ‘Chocolat des Mandarins’ at £17.
I was sent the products to review