Having not been into tea the last time I was in Paris, and very intrigued about all of Mariage Freres’ flavors, I knew this had to be a stop on my trip. Despite wanting to take home some of just about every tea, I managed to limit myself. As Adham said, at the flagship store in the Marais there are actually two shops across the street from each other. I went on a Saturday, and the shop with the pre-packaged tea was nearly empty while the main shop with the by-weight tea was jam packed. I found it nice to sniff all the teas in the pre-packaged shop (they have stoppered jars out), rather than in the main shop, which also has sniff-samples out, but there were way more people in front of the shelves. The pre-packaged shop had a smaller variety of teas out for smelling, and neither place had all of them of course.
There was an army of employees behind the counter and an organized line for ordering your tea by weight. It was fairly hectic, and I got the feeling that the guy I was helped by would have been happy to help me if I didn’t know what I wanted, but on a busy day like that they weren’t going to let any one linger too long. I had a list of teas, though, so I just ordered the ones I wanted (100g minimum on each tea) and in a stunning display of efficiency was out the door after my order rather quickly.
Not an experience to be missed if you are a fan of French teas and in Paris, but if you want time for tea discovery, consider going on a week day!