Parisian tea emporium Mariage Frères has opened a five-storey Covent Garden flagship at 38 King Street in Covent Garden. Known for its gilded tea ware and aspirant haute-couture aesthetic as much as its range of loose-leaf teas, the London location includes a tea museum, a tea room, a restaurant in which every single dish features tea, and the niche honour of the longest tea wall in the world.
Packaged in an “eye-watering array of jewel-like colours,” the Parisian specialists’ range of over 1,000 teas from 36 countries doubles down on the brand’s 19th century apothecary aesthetic in a 1,200 square metre wall, sold by weight. The proprietary ‘Marco Polo’ blend and tea museum also emphasise an approach to tea discovery, “from [the Mariage Frères’ family’s] years travelling at sea.” It’s unclear whether the museum will spill the tea on the company’s colonial legacy; the unapologetically colonial branding of its Parisian tea rooms — including posters from 19th century production — may tell its own story.
The restaurant is an all-day operation, foregrounding classical Parisian café dining, with set breakfasts named after areas of the city featuring scrambled eggs seasoned with matcha salt alongside smoked salmon and a matcha fromage frais, or a pink praline tartlet accompanied by a tea-seasoned redcurrant confit. Main courses include a chicken supreme with a ‘Smoky Leopard’ black tea jus, and the trademarked ‘Snob Salad,’ which pairs mesclun with black tea, more smoked salmon, and toasts ‘marbled’ with matcha and turmeric.
The townhouse itself has the style, and feel, of a luxury French fashion store. Ample walking space between island displays of tea, equipment, and tea paraphernalia is flanked by that feature wall and framed by high ceilings, extravagant cornicing, and a surfeit of pink lighting. (The latter aids the company’s rose-tinted view of the past.) It’s unabashedly riffing on Parisian haute-couture, with a menu, and pricing, to match. That ‘Snob Salad’ runs £28; a crunchy open sandwich of seasonal vegetables, aubergine chutney seasoned with tea, and feta comes in at £19. One tea range is named, “Beautiful Teas for Beautiful People.”
Mariage Frères’ tea is currently available in a similarly gilded concession space at Selfridges, as well as at Ollie Dabbous’ Michelin-starred Hide overlooking Green Park, and luxury hotels Claridge’s and The Rosewood — the latter home of Calum Franklin’s pie mecca, Holborn Dining Room, and the former rumoured to be welcoming a world-famous New York restaurant later this year.