On my latest trip to Paris, I discovered another great tea place – Kusmi Tea. I had been following them for awhile on Twitter (@KusmiTea), so I was curious to visit their shop and try their teas. I went to their shop on rue Danielle Casanova, although I’ve since discovered they have many shops all over France, as well as in the U.S. and other countries. Their tea is also available online – something I didn’t know until after I visited!
The shop I visited wasn’t large, but it was in lovely neighborhood just off the rue de la Paix and near Place Vendome. When I came in, the saleswoman greeted me in French, of course, which I managed to reply to, at least to say, “Bonjour, Madame!” I may have managed a few more sentences before I asked her if she spoke English – my high school French can only take me so far. Naturally, like many people in Paris, she spoke English very well, to my endless appreciation. We chatted for a bit, and then she offered me a sample of the tea they had prepared that morning – Euphoria, described as “a blend of roasted mate, chocolate, and orange.” I have never tried mate before, but the aroma of this blend just drew me in. I took a few sips, and decided that whatever else I took home with me, I was definitely taking some Euphoria!
I was perusing the shelves, trying to find a good mix of teas to take home for myself and as gifts, and as I looked, the saleswoman told me a little of the story of Kusmi Tea. It was started by a Russian man over 100 years ago, and had been in Paris since 1917! I had no idea that the company had such a rich history. After I came home, I checked out their website for more details. It’s a fascinating story of a family escaping the Russian Revolution and setting up a new base in Paris, where they opened Maison Kusmi-Thé. The company has since passed to other owners; in 2003, it was acquired by the Orebi family, who were coffee and chocolate merchants who had an affinity for tea.
At the saleswoman’s suggestion, I bought a collection of small tins of their Russian-themed teas. They all smelled delightful, and I’ve been quite pleased with those I’ve tried since I came home. I made a pot of the Prince Vladimir last weekend – a black tea flavored with bergamot, vanilla, lemon, grapefruit, and spices. It sounds like a lot to put in a tea, but the effect is wonderful: light, yet rich, with a smooth flavor that blends well with the China black tea. It was delicious both hot and iced – a great treat for a summer day! Reading on the Kusmi Tea website, it says that the tea “was created by Pavel Kusmichoff in 1888 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the Christianization of Russia by Vladimir the Great.” Now, I don’t know if I can taste that much history in the cup, but it’s amazing to know that there is such a rich story behind a lovely tea.
I also gave a tin of the Troika blend to a friend of mine who normally only drinks green tea. I thought this would be a great introduction to black tea for her. It’s also flavored with bergamot, but has orange and mandarin in the blend. I haven’t tasted this one myself yet, but my friend reported that she loves it. She said she never knew she liked black tea, but this has made a believer out of her! I love being able to share my love of different kinds of tea with friends – it makes the experience that much richer.
So Kusmi Tea was a great discovery for me this trip to Paris. Many of you may know of them already, since they’ve been around for so long, but if you haven’t heard of them, I highly recommend that you check out their tea, either online, or in one of their many shops around the world. I know that, for me, each sip of tea will bring back memories of a wonderful trip and more horizons yet to visit. Maybe a trip to Russia is in my future!