One of the highlights of the Marais district is the Mariage Freres tea boutique and tea salon.
The booming tea trade in France dates back to the 17th century under the reign of King Louis XIV, when he encouraged the French East India Company to import exotic teas from distant lands. In approximately 1660 Nicolas and Pierre Mariage began embarking on travel to Persia and India by orders from the Royal Court. The tea trade was passed down in the Mariage family and in June 1854, descendants Henri and Edouard Mariage opened the present day Mariage Freres Tea Company. For over 130 year Mariage Freres thrived as a wholesale tea company importing the finest teas mostly from the Orient. In 1983 the company started to open retail outlets. The first shop and tea salon opened on the site of the former wholesale offices on a narrow one-block street in the Marais.
Designed to resemble an Old World European tea counter, the charming boutique has wood plank floors, glass lanterns and floor to ceiling wooden shelves lined with the large trademark black canisters filled with the most aromatic teas. Salesmen are dressed in the store uniform, a crisp linen suit, and patiently tend to clients, climbing up ladders to the highest shelves to retrieve the ideal tea suited for them. After you select your teas, the salesman hands you a slip of paper with your order, which to you take to the kiosk to pay for, further giving the shop an Old World authenticity.
The remainder of the shop is stocked with pre-packed loose teas and boxes of tea bags. Besides the over 600 varieties of teas, the shop sells an impressive array of glass, ceramic and iron teapots plus tea strainers, cups and other tea paraphernalia.
In recent years the shop has introduced an innovative line of tea related products including tea flavored chocolates, jellies and jams, biscuits, cookies and even tea scented candles and incense.
In the rear of the shop is the tea salon serving their delectable teas. The lunch menu includes home made foie gras with rhubarb and a Snob salad (smoked salmon, foie gras, and shrimp) plus tea infused dishes such as salmon with Matcha tea and chicken breast with tea aspic. At teatime, tea is served in their signature teapot of a silver body and white ceramic top and spout with a tea cozy to keep it warm. Earl Grey macaroons, Matcha tea financiers and fruit tea flavored cheesecake are just a few of the decadent desserts to accompany your tea.
After indulging in the boutique and tearoom offerings, one must make a final stop upstairs to discover the Tea Museum, which houses artifacts, books, and objets relating to the history of the great Mariage Freres tea company.
35 rue Bourg Tibourg, 75004
Open 10AM-8PM daily
Note: Mariage Freres has four other locations with attached tearooms.