I love tea, which is fortunate, as my distaste for coffee means I drink lots of tea, partially because I enjoy it, and partially because the consumption of a hot beverage is a necessary punctuation in daily life in France. I should go ahead and admit that I am an unabashed love of herbal teas, of concoctions that taste like you are drinking flowers or mint leaves. I love a big mug of tea on a cold night, burled in a chair with a good book, but my ideal tasse de thé, would be a light fruity one served in a porcelain teacup from a dainty pot.
This means that I never pass an opportunity to go to a salon de thé, or tearoom. Paris is full of beautiful overpriced experiences, and a salon de thé, is no different. Yet even though I know that I could buy 3 boxes of tea for the same price as that one precious pot, I continue to seek out and frequent tea rooms. I love how you step through the doors into a tea party, a lovely escape from whatever you should be doing, a chance to sit , chat, and sip without being rushed or pressured. Sometimes it is worth it to pay a little more for the opportunity to enjoy something exponentially more beautiful. Sometimes it is worth it to sit still and have a cup of over priced tea in a beautiful corner of Paris.
This past week, my friend Emma and I went to a tiny little salon de thé near the Musée D’Orsay. A paradise of pink floral tablecloths, delicate china, and massive vase of tulips, the salon, Les Nuits des Thés, is run by a mother and her daughter. Sitting there, not rushing off, just slowly enjoying pots of tea and yummy scones, I thought of a quote I read lately, regarding the beauty in a cup of tea. I apologize that my translation will be no where near as good as the original:
“And so, let us drink a cup of tea. The ritual of tea, this precise renewal of the same motions, the same tastes, this attainment of simple sensations, authentic and refined, this license given to every person, to become an aristocrat of sorts, as tea is the drink of the rich just as it is the drink of the poor, means that the ritual of tea has this extraordinary virtue of introducing into the absurdity of our lives a moment of serene harmony. Yes, the universe conspires to vacuity, our souls mourn the loss of beauty, and the insignificance that surrounds us. And so, let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, we hear the wind whispering outside, the autumn leaves rustle and fall, the cat sleeping in a pool of warm light. In each sip, we redirect time.” -Muriel Barbery, Lélégance du hérisson