I didn’t think I’d actually fall in love with tea. Can you imagine a tea with scents of macarons and pistachios? Heaven. On top of it, this unique brew is called “I Love You” – Je t’aime.
The teas of Theodor Paris have been a very recent discovery of mine thanks to my friend, Francis for introducing me to Monsieur Leleu’s new creation, the Absolu Oolong. And when I say discovery, it’s not just that his speciality teas are so different to anything else I’ve ever tasted; like drinking good wine, they’ve helped me learn to appreciate teas’ deliciously complex aromas; take the time and pleasure with my cuppa; (I know, I know – this sounds corny but it’s true…) even evoke a smile.
I’m so glad I popped in to the original boutique where Theodor started in the 16th arrondissement. It’s just a few minutes walk from Trocadero and I thoroughly recommend a visit with the charming Sylvie. Previously a creamery, the decor is still testament to such a location with the ceiling and wall panels by Anselm in Rue du Roi Doré (golden king street) in the 7th.
Guillaume Leleu started up this first shop here in 2002 and since then has been taking the tea world by storm with his Theodor creations, now in 30 different countries. Each year about 100 tons of teas personally selected from around the world (mostly from Asia) are transformed in his zen-like laboratory in the previous Singer factory in Bonnières sur Seine, within rowing-boat distance from Monet’s gardens at Giverny.
Calling himself the Insolent Parisian, Theodor’s founder has us travel with him – whether it’s through the descriptions of his teas or online – finding beauty in everyday things through his poetic words, embodying the art of tea.
The inspiration of the Impertinent Parisian is embodied in sixteen essences that form the aromatic tea palette in an impertinent and poetic way. Impertinent, because it tempts us to take a shortcut and welcome the unexpected. Poetic, because it makes us discover shifting horizons and jostles our view and senses, provoking us to a game of desire and astonishment in disguise, while inviting us to marvel in front of the revisited daily Parisian routine.
Such impertinent essences are represented by 16 colourful satin ribbons that make a statement around each of the characteristic tea tins containing teas of origin, black flavoured teas, green flavoured teas, infusions named “weeds” or herbal teas.
Je t’aime belongs to the “Teas of the Gallantry” essence, represented with a fuchsia pink ribbon. Gallantry expresses “pastry flavours tasting like fruit and candy. They will offer a flattering and indulging pleasure while remaining light and refined.”
The day I visited, Marìa, also from the talented Theodor team, made a pot of this rather special brew.
I Love You‘s pronounced fragrances are indeed pistachio and macaron. Like an alchemist in the kitchen or in a perfumery, Monsieur Leleu creates the macaron flavour by adding ingredients such as pink peony petals (clearly visible), bitter almond, coconut, chocolate, chopped almond pieces, and coconut shavings.
Just as with tasting wine, when the tea was finished I loved swirling around the end of the tea to gather all of the wonderful aromas around the empty, fragranced teacup.
This macaron tea has a loving green tea sister, J’aime, flavoured with notes of macaron and strawberry.
As more gigantic tea containers were opened, it was intriguing to
sniff revel in the different tea leaves’ bouquets with their added surprises which make up each and every creation.
Jour J (meaning “The Big Day”) is aptly named, as this dreamy white tea (Bai Mu Dan) has astonishing notes to resemble the flavour and sensation of rosé Champagne. Monsieur Leleu cleverly concocts this sensation by adding bits of strawberry, helianthus (or sunflower) petals and jasmine flowers, just to name a few of the magical ingredients.
Likewise, ingredients are added to create a black tea, Sans Complexe (no complex), with lemon and vanilla to arrive at a lemon meringue pie. Tribute, conjures up the most amazing flavours of frangipane, while Oolong Milky conjures up the most buttery and milk fragrances. This list goes on …
This Carpe Diem is red rooibos tea, with “greedy” (that’s another of the 16 essences) notes of red fruits, toasted and sugar-coated almonds. Marìa suggested using this tea to perfume rice by placing just a couple of teaspoons in it while cooking. Try it. It’s genius!
Try making this fragranced green tea-infused rice pudding recipe and see what I mean.
Blue Oolong Lotus is a green tea from Vietnam and the lotus flower is used to impart a scent to the tea leaves by placing them inside the flower just before it closes at night to take on the fragrance of this very special flower. How’s that for creativity?
The perfect “tea gourmet”: a cup or two of I Love You, rose and chocolate macarons and some almond financier teacakes (the recipes are all in Teatime in Paris).
The only way to have a cup of tea, is by loving it.
I’ll drink to that, Monsieur Leleu. Cheers to discovering the unexpected, new views and senses, and revisiting daily Parisian routine.
THEODOR TEA PARIS
28 Rue des Sablons