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Tea Party with Mr. Boris

Today, English Muffin's guest blogger, The Guerilla Gourmand, has a wonderful and as always, educational, post on tea. Read on to find out about her time living and drinking tea in Paris and to discover, "which type are you?".

Ten years ago, I lived and studied in the heart of Paris. Paris has the energy and creativity of New York City but at the time it still had a sit-down-and-drink-your-coffee café culture. How ironic, then, that this is where I fell in love with tea.

I was taking a walk down the Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, a bustling market street that sort of winds itself down a hillside. Down I went, where I came across the tiny establishment, Café Marc.

Again, ironically, this little place is known more as a coffee roaster than for teas. Nevertheless, it was time for a break, and so I decided to try a cup of the most expensive Darjeeling they had, just to see whether I could taste any difference between the First Flush Darjeeling and the Twinings Darjeeling in the purple packet available at the supermarket…

Thus began my love affair with teas. , I still remember that electric feeling of awakening when I had my first sip of First Flush. I never knew a Darjeeling could have such complexity and texture! I was literally overwhelmed at how amazing of an experience it was.

I encourage English Muffin readers to try it for yourself. Darjeeling is a black tea that comes from the Darjeeling area in Northern India. Do a taste test of a First Flush versus a Second Flush. At Adagio Teas, they make it easy for you by calling them Darjeeling #1 and Darjeeling #2. Whilst you are brewing it for 5 minutes, don't forget to pour some of that hot water into your tea cup to warm it up too - it makes a difference for your tasting.

First Flush has a softer mouth feel, with delicate aromas and flavors and a slightly metallic taste. I prefer it alone or with a touch of sugar. Second Flush is heartier and more robust; definitely something that can not only stand up to, but also pair well with milk and sugar.

A lot of people actually enjoy the Second Flush more, because it is slightly sweeter or less astringent. It is usually more dependable: I have found over the years that the flavor of a First Flush highly depends on the quality and care with which your tea purveyor stores its tea. But try it for yourself, and find out which type of Darjeeling Tea you prefer!

By the way, if you are ever in Paris, there are two tea-related places to check out:
  1. Near the Jardin des Plantes behind the Institut du Monde Arab (Arab Institute), the cafe of Le Mosque de Paris serves sweet mint tea in traditional Morrocon tea glasses and has delicious desserts, like baklava or an array of other North African treats.

  2. Nina's Teas located in/near the chic and upscale neighborhood of Place Vendome has a huge selection of fresh teas for your sniffing and purchasing pleasure. There is also a cafe on the second floor but I have admittedly not stopped by that yet.