Having tea in the afternoon is something I do every single day. I don't make a production of setting a table just for this purpose, but I do admire the 'art of tea'. Cultures throughout the world have their rules and etiquette practices when it comes to having tea, and if you partake of this daily ritual, then I'm sure you have your own set ways of enjoying a cup or two.
Mariage Frères, the renowned French purveyor of fine teas and its accoutrements, is a company that elevates the art of tea to a very high level. I've known about this French institution for some time, but it's only recently that I've taken a moment to delve into their ways of proper tea.
While perusing The Food Lover's Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells, I came across the tea salons & restaurants of Mariage Frères in Paris (they also have a location in Japan). It was here that the golden rules established by this venerable tea importer caught my attention. These rules make sense and there is nothing pretentious about them.
As Henri Mariage, founder of Mariage Frères in 1854, stated: "Tea is a noble beverage. Preparing it is an art that combines skill and tradition."
If you want to learn how to make proper tea,
follow this easy tutorial by Mariage Frères.
Black Teas, Matured Teas, Blue Teas, and flavored teas
- Pre-heat the teapot, after inserting the tea strainer or filter, * by rinsing it with boiling water.
- Place a teaspoon of tea (roughly 2.5 g) per cup in the warm strainer* and let it stand for a few moments, allowing the steam to begin developing the leaves' aroma.
- Pour simmering water on the tea so that all the leaves are covered.
- Let the tea steep (refer to chart)
- About 2 minutes for fannings
- About 3 minutes for broken leaf teas
- About 5 minutes for whole leaf teas
- Barely 3 minutes do the first flush Darjeeling (slightly increasing the amount of tea to 3.5 g per cup)
- 7 minutes for blue teas
It is then essential to remove the strainer or filter*containing the leaves. the tea must then be stired (another important step) and finally poured. Teas from great gardens should not be drunk too hot; let them stand a few moments after steeping, so that the palate can better appreciate the most subtle of fragrances.
White and Green Teas
- Pre-heat the pot or chung (cup with cover) as above.
- Place the appropriate amount of tea per person or cup (refer to chart). Let the tea leaves stand for a few moments to allow the steam to begin developing the aroma.
- Place the appropriate amount of tea per person or cup (refer to chart).
- Let the tea steep (refer to chart):
- For green tea, 1 to 3 minutes
- For the white tea Yin Zhen, 15 minutes
- For the white teas Pain Mu Tan, 7 minutes
- Remove the tea leaves, stir and serve.
* Use a cotton tea filter if the teapot is not equipped with a strainer.
I highly encourage you to visit the Mariage Frères website for products, tutorials and other wonderful things from this French company.
Having tea using my Wedgwood drabware and lemons from my father's trees is pure pleasure.