Globetrotter and tea lover extraordinaire François-Xavier Delmas travels the world to secure the finest teas for Le Palais desThés. He has close relationships with the planters and their partnership ensures that ethical labor and environmental practices are followed. After all, you don't want to cloud your cup of tea with a guilty conscience!
Are you seeking a cup of calm in NYC's bustling Soho neighborhood? A place where the aromatic air conjures up exotic places and sublime flavors? Then saunter over to the new Le Palais des Thés boutique at 156 Prince Street. As the name implies, this is no ordinary tea shop - thank goodness!
Founded in Paris in 1986 by internationally recognized tea expert François-Xavier Delmas, Le Palais des Thés has 30 boutiques in 8 countries and the Soho store is their second NYC location (the other is on the Upper West Side). If you are a tea lover like me, this elegant shop stocked with the world's finest teas will put your senses in a delicious overdrive. Although it is a retail store and not a cafe, Le Palais des Thés encourages visitors to linger and all customers are greeted with a complimentary cup of tea. So sip, sniff, and browse to your heart's content.
Every canister tells a story. Loose teas are stored in these striking tins.
I was invited to a guided tea tasting led by Monsieur Delmas and was struck by the similarities with wine tasting. For example, in wine we speak of varietals when describing the different types of grapes - tea experts use the term cultivar to identify tea plants. Like wine, tea has different naturally occurring flavors - everything from notes of honey and tobacco to toasted bread and wood. Like wine, the flavor of tea goes through subtle changes while in the glass.
Each tea on display at Le Palais des Thés has a compartment filled with loose tea leaves so that you can sniff before you buy. Also, each box is labeled with clear instructions on how to prepare the tea as each type requires a different steeping time and water temperature to truly get the best flavor. It is also recommended to use mineral water with a neutral PH.
Whether you are in the mood for Single Estate black, green, or white tea; all-natural flavored teas; or exquisite Grand Cru teas, Le Palais des Thés has a tea for you - there are more than 100 to choose from! Loose tea is available from $6 to $130 for 3.5 ounces. High quality tea bags are also available along with tea accessories and gifts. Yes, these teas cost a bit more than your average grocery store teas but the quality is worth it. Unlike mass produced tea bags that are full of broken tea leaves and tea dust, the selections at Le Palais des Thés use whole leaves and that means better and consistent flavor. To maintain your investment, store your tea in a dry place with low humidity. Or better yet, take Monsieur Delmas' advice and drink it, don't store it!
To learn more, visit the Le Palais des Thés website. If you really want to delve into the topic, you can pick up a copy of Monsieur Delmas' travel diary Chercheur de Thé/Discovering Tea. In Paris, you can even take classes at their Tea School.