While I have always loved tea, it did not become an obsession until college. During my freshman year, I discovered Mariage Frères tea.
My French literature and language professor for textual analysis invited our class over to her house one cold winter afternoon. I do not recall why she invited us, but I do remember what she served us for refreshments: fresh pear topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, with a cup of tea on the side.
Rich, flavorful, and decadent, the tea was positively divine. The simple, yet elegant black box and tea tin imprinted themselves on my memory with Proustian vividity.
The tea hovered in the back of my mind until I arrived in Paris two years later. By then, I had forgotten the name, but not the box.
I spent several months stopping by tea shops around Paris looking for the little black box.
Then one day I forgot my lunch.
Since my break was long, I decided to explore the neighborhood around my school in the seventh arrondissement to find someplace to eat (where I could get gluten-free food!)
My quest led me to La Grande Epicerie de Paris at Le Bon Marché. Filled with rare, tasty foods, and ample ingredient labels, La Grande Epicerie is one of my favorite Parisian haunts to this day.
As I went to walk out the door, the tea kiosk caught my eye. There on the front shelf sat countless little black boxes of Mariage Frères tea.
The rest is history.
To see Mariage Frères’s famous “black box” tea or learn more about their history, visit their website: