I recently found myself traveling Europe for two weeks with a small school group, where and when I discovered that you never know when or where you’ll find good tea.
My trip consisted of a week in Italy and a week in France, and as many of you know traveling with all your favourite teas can be hard. Sadly, I had to go without, and towards the end of the trip I was missing my Pu-erh’s and Oolongs. I tried to find good teas in my travels – I really did – but I had no luck. I knew tea wasn’t very popular in Italy but I had high hopes for France. The problem was that I was looking in the wrong places. I went to two cafes which specialized in coffee and got bagged tea both times.
When I got to the Latin Quarter of Paris, I had all but given up hope. I was with two guys from my school group. One suggested we get Chinese food. I agreed and we entered a very traditional looking restaurant in the middle of the Latin Quarter. We were the only customers inside the place joined by an older couple who managed the restaurant. After we ordered, I noticed – always on the lookout for tea – that the couple was enjoying a small pot of tea in the back of the restaurant. When the man returned with our food order, I asked him for tea. He nodded and returned to the kitchen. After about a minute he came out of the kitchen and sat down. He’s steeping my tea, I thought to myself, My first loose leaf tea in a week and a half! Soon he brought a small teapot to my table. I took a small sip and was greeted by the light, fragrant flavour of Jasmine tea. I had found Chinese tea in the middle of Paris!
We finished our meal, and upon leaving I thanked the man for the tea. I stepped out into the rainy streets of Paris and thought, “you never know what you’ll find traveling!”