Monday, August 13, 2007

Play It Again, Mariage

Of all the tea joints in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine. She with the dark, seductive canister and the essence of bergamot and mint. I was far from being a beaten-down, cynical nightclub owner when I stepped into the Mariage Freres store in Paris in the late 1990s, but I was transported to another time when I picked up the canister that read simply, “Casablanca.”

Of all my ravings about various teas I’ve tried, this particular tea blend from the Paris institution known as Mariage Freres (which means “The Mariage Brothers”) is one of my all-time favorites. And thanks to the exporting world, I can drink it here in the Bay Area. Mariage Freres has a grand tradition of tea, and if you’re ever in Paris, you have to be sure to go to one of its three tea rooms where you’ll find a soothing and sophisticated décor—accented with a friendly corp of young handsome French men dressed in white formals serving you. (Mariage Freres’ Web site is only in French, but you can find its tea rooms listed in all major tour guides.)

Mariage Freres tea can be found locally at Williams-Sonoma stores, The Pasta Shops at Rockridge’s Market Hall in Oakland and Fourth Street in Berkeley, The Gardener stores and other fine gourmet shops. But I have to say that while these exquisite teas (and accompanying tea-flavored treats) are more readily available in the United States, it’s not as easy to always find the blended tea “Casablanca.” I’m not sure why, because I consider it one of the company’s most unique blends and, of course, most romantic. You’ll pay a high price for them (about $16 a can) but it’s Bogey-licious.


agent713 said...

I don't even like tea but you make me want to go find some of this stuff!!!

I linked to your blog through the Passionate Eater. I look forward to following your culinary adventures :)

~Heidi in BC

Anonymous said...

Ben, which store in the Bay Area can you find Casablanca? I want to get a can.

Chef Ben said...

I found Casablanca available at The Pasta Shop in Market Hall in Rockridge. I didn't see it at the Fourth Street location and rarely do I see it at Williams-Sonoma. Good luck finding it! (If you get it, rent the movie and watch it while you sip the tea. :)

xine. said...

mariage freres tea= <3 <3 <3