MF is a French tea shoppe that sells teas from around the world. I
havent seen a tea shoppe yet that doesnt claim it sells the best
teas. With any tea shoppe you could probably do better by looking
around but the law of diminishing returns crops up sooner than you
think. Dont get caught up in definitions or pedigrees. If you live
in a large metro area Id say there is a tea shoppe worth visiting.
When you start talking about the best tea you are talking religion.
Im the agnostic when it comes to tea. It makes me aware of my nature
and the nature of all things from which I drink.
Well, Mariage Freres is definitely offers good teas but "Best Tea
Vendor" is an over statement. Its one of the finest and well known
French tea companies but France doesn't produce tea. They carry tea
from China, India, Africa and beyond..
Now my personal opinion:
Two years ago, when I was visiting Paris, I checked both "Mariage
Feres " and "Betjeman and Barton tea". Both are French tea companies
and offer many types of teas. I prefer Betjeman and Barton over
Mariage Feres for their customer service and better price. I do agree,
Mariage Feres offers more option but they are little over priced.
The price factor:
If you are an American, it is not wise to buy tea from any French tea
vendors on-line because you will end up with Euro vs US$ flat exchange
rate. As a result, you will pay more than what market is offering at
Moreover, US on-line vendors offer more types of tea compares to the
French vendors. There are many good US on-line tea vendors compares to
any European on-line tea vendors. The quality many US vendors offer in
the market, sometime you can't even find it around the Asian, Africa
tea producer countries local market. The top grade teas are for the
export market except some Pu-erh, Oolong and green teas are well
regarded to some Local people in China and Japan. You will hardly find
Darjeeling SFTGFOP 1 grade, Golden Assam or White Assam in local
Indian market rather then OP or CTC quality. Well, Indians don't even
like white or green tea that much. I couldn't find it in Kolkata, India
(the actual tea trading hub) during my visit there. This is my
personal experience and opinion.
La Paz, Bolivia
This is a voice from the past. Ripon the last time we heard from you,
you were somewhere in South Africa. Are you still doing research on
the tea producing and consuming countries of the world. Its easily
been a decade since there was a French department store in town
selling Fauchon brand teas. At the time I thought not bad but
expensive. I still buy the occasional French Vanilla tea tin. At one
point there was a discussion if a natural taste from some French tea
producing island colony off Africa or just scented.
PS With regards to why there are many more US vendors online I think
is a .com phenomenon. Youll see many more national vendors if you use
their Internet suffix. I agree many US vendors is usually one stop
shopping which is amazing since we dont drink tea. Im not a big fan
of globalism but I can get any tea from any where.
I remember you. How are you doing? You are right, last time, I was
posted in Southern Africa. Yes, still I am involved with tea research
but lately didn't have enough time to continue. In fact, I was
involved with Bolivian tea industry and helped them to find the
Japanese tea market. Unfortunately, I had to take the tough decision
to stop financing Bolivian tea industry a year ago under a complicated
situation. It was a professional decision over my personal feeling.
Anyway, Bolivia is a complicated country, in terms of the political
and bilateral relationship with the US Government. I will post some of
my tea experience around South America soon. Though it is a coffee
region with strong Spanish and Portuguese cultural influence but I
had some wonderful tea experience in Peru, Brazil and chile and Mexico
(North America). I still love tea and passionate about this industry.
About scented French Vanilla tea vs natural Vanilla tea- the best
natural French Vanilla tea's vanilla comes from African island country
Madagascar. There is no doubt that natural vanilla is better than the
artificial vanilla. The problem with French processed tea is their
high production cost compares with the American outsourced teas. In
terms of outsourcing and marketing American productivity index is 6%
higher than the French. If you like Chai Masala, sometime a tiny pinch
of natural vanilla can give you extra ordinary flavor and exotic
experience. You just can't compare artificial vanilla with the natural
vanilla. Only couple of exclusive British and French tea rooms offer
natural vanilla in tea because of the little availability and the
price. There is one or two tea rooms in La Vegas offers natural
vanilla but you have to add some extra cost.
I am not a big fan of Globalization either. The recent global
financial crisis taught us a lesson:
"Communism has failed and capitalism or globalization is bankrupt."
But the world is pouring trillions of dollar to maintain
globalization. We all understand the cause and fact but we can't
I have been to South America for two years which is a famous for
Coffee and Cocoa beans or cacao tree production. I was shocked to see
how much we pay for a decent chocolate bar in the U.S. or Europe but
the local cacao producers get nothing. Indeed, I witness the negetive
side of the globalization. We don't mind to pay few extra dollars to
enjoy a so-called socially responsible Starbucks coffee but at the end
how many of us realize that these multinational companies pay very
little to the coffee farmers?
Fair Trade logo, 1% social contributions like marketing tactics work
quiet well in the US. My personal opinion is, they are all marketing
craps. I respect your attitude, try to find the best value with best
price. It is not so difficult to maintain 100% profit margin in tea
business. As a result, we see many tea vendors but many of them can't
survive for poor tea and lack of business knowledge.
La Paz, Bolivia
Thanks for the update. Ive always wanted some of that Madagascar
natural tasting vanilla tea. It would be like 'milk tea' from Taiwan,
just part of the taste. I picked up a 125g discounted tin of Taylors
of Harrogate Jasmine Blossom Green Tea for $6. It gives me another
reference point for Jasmine. How does its heavy and soapy compare to
my favorite thin and light. I dont know which is the correct taste.
I just stay away from unknown scented taste or just add my own like
natural vanilla. I wished we could see more South American teas
cloned from Japanese variety. Its one of little known secrets like
Yamamoto. My biggest problem with globalism there is no economic
theory that says it will work like macro versus micro economics.
Besides globalism makes borders an oxymoron.
I recently watched a great documentary about coffee workers, and they
gathered a group of the workers and asked them how much they thought a
pound of their coffee sold for in the U.S. They all made guesses I
forget the exact numbers but they were guessing like cents and up to
maybe two dollars, then the man told them like $10-20 and they all
just laughed and were totally blown away. And this was on a so-called
fair-trade farm. It is just sad that so many (even if well
intentioned) intelligent Americans are too dumb to understand that
they are hurting the situation not helping it no matter how expensive
their latte is or how much they pay per pound. But to actually help
would take some effort and their precious time that they could be
dialing for American Idol or going to the mall with. It is very
frustrating and I'm sure even moreso from the ground-level where you
I try to get to know the vendors and make sure they are good people,
and then from there try to find out who actually grew the tea and then
learn about their situation and facilities. I have found quite a few
growers who are great people and who I will support as long as they
grow tea, and if possible find ways to directly compensate them in a
meaningful way... which very often doesn't involve money.
I'd love to hear of your experiences as I'm sure many others would too
if you find time to elaborate at some point.
And I thought $10/oz of LiuAnGuaPian was expensive, hey wait. To me
the price of tea is just a series of markups for each middle man. One
tea shoppe gets its teas from distributors. Another from a buyer who
makes trips to China. Both shops have employees and business expenses
like rent. I can do cheaper on the Internet but I support brick and
mortars. From what I understand if I am in China in a tea market Im
getting screwed. Thats the way it is. Ive been in an import fair
trade store. Junk. I dont go to Farmers Markets. Ripoff. Once
again the farmer cant sell directly due to globalism shenanigans like
quotas. I have to wait for key lime season in Florida so I can buy
cheaper from Peru.
It's sad to heard this news too. I trusted fair-trade, and contacted
them for a certification.
Hi Dominic, I also have the dream of helping tea farmers in China. I'm
planning to help drinkers buy tea from tea farmers directly and help
the farmers get more benefits too.
I'm trying to gather more farmers that I known and building a website
by myself too. I think we can make some change of this world.
Chinese tea farmer