Mariage Frères' Thé
Liberté, égalité, cuppa tea
An Englishman abroad is an Englishman gasping for a decent cup of tea. On a hot summer's day in Le Marais, the Mariage Frères' tea shop appeared like an oasis. Stepping into the dark, cool shop felt like stepping back in time. From floor to ceiling, huge tea urns are neatly displayed on box shelves behind the counter. Old fashioned scales and tea paraphernalia add to the sense that tea is taken very seriously here.
In 1660, Nicolas and Pierre Mariage were sent by the royal court of Louis XIV to research and sign trade deals with tea producers in the east. This initial trip created a tea dynasty made up of members of the Mariage family and, in 1843, they established a tea wholesale business. Eleven years later, brothers Henri and Edouard set up the Mariage Frères' Tea Company, which went on to supply the finest hotels and tea shops in Paris for the next 130 years.
A century on, in 1983, Kitti Cha Sangmanee and Richard Bueno transformed the business into the retail brand that it is today, opening tea shops with a very colonial feel in central Paris. It was one of these very shops that this thirsty Englishman was relieved to find.