I spent two weeks in Bruxelles again so I grabbed the opportunity to restock my tea store with the excellent products of Le Palais des Thés. They have two Thés shops in Bruxelles, and as it happens I lived nearby the Louise square and there was one shop at the Chaussée de Charleroi 25. From the large collection I bought the Hamman and the Ghesa.
When I paid I’d got a broshure as a gift. On my way back to Münich I started to study it. I have learned that the Le Palais tea shop started out when François-Xavier Delmas, at the head of a group of forty-five tea enthusiasts, decided to create their own business in 1986. They had one goal: to democratize tea and help the Occident to learn more about its cultural and gastronomical aspects. The first shop was opened in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Four years later, François-Xavier Delmas acquires his partners’ shares in order to work full-time on its project.
In 1991, after meeting a Japanese tour operator who had ordered a tonnes of apple tea, Le Palais des Thés had opened its first store as a partnership in Tokyo. Why a partnership, rather than a shop operating under its own name?-we can ask. Because each choice is driven by the desire to retain flexibility and freedom in developing the business. In fact, this model has allowed Le Palais des Thés to launch new shops in numerous cities, in France and in other countries such as: Strasbourg (1997), Mulhouse (1986), Lille (1988), Lyon (2004), Montpellier (2005), Nantes and Toulouse (2005), Brussels (2001 and 2007), Oslo (2006 and 2007), Nîmes and Dublin (2008), Ljubljana (2009) and Tel-Aviv (2010).
Through its shops in Bruxelles, Le Palais des Thés offers an important tea selection in an elegant and refined atmosphere. The costumers can also find numerous tea related objects, which remind us that in some countries offering tea is more than a custom because serving tea is a time-honoured tradition. Therefore large selection of artefacts, accessorises and delicacies from many different countries are also available. The layout of the shops allows customers to wander freely and discover the various teas in their own time, with many samples available to smell and taste as well as all kind of information on their origins, preparation and ceremonies.
How should tea be prepared?
This is a major question because to use a tea properly, it’s important to understand its particular characteristics. Indeed there are as many ways of preparing tea as there are different varieties. The criteria governing the amount of tea used, the lenght of infusion and the temperature and even the quality of the water will vary depending on the tea’s origin, the season, the fineness of the crop or local custom. For this reason every time someone buys tea from Le Palais des Thés shop they will provide us with the appropriate and precise advice necessary for preparing it correctly. Furthermore, owing to their many properties, teas can be more suitable for certain times of the day.
The choice of water
It is often something that is not considered in the preparation of tea. However using a good quality water is essential in order to fully appreciate the fineness and the subtlety of a tea. Tap water is often mediocre from a taste point of view, owing to the products that have been added to it to make it safe for drinking, especially chlorine. Afiltration system that decreases the hardness of the water can be used to resolve this problem. For the best tea is recommended that mineral water or spring water be used. The temperature of the water is another aspect that is all too frequently neglected. Because the water should never be poured over the tea leaves at boiling point: this would burn them and destroy the aroma molecules that they contain, thus robbing the tea of the very essence of its bouquet. For certain very fragile teas it is even important not to overheat the water so as to preserve the delicacy of the leaf.
There is nothing simpler than decaffeinating one’s own tea. It is possible to do so with all sort of teas, without exception: pour some water, at correct temperature, over the leaves and allow to infuse for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds pour this water away. Pour fresh water over the same leaves and allow to infuse in the usual way. Caffeine is released during the very first seconds of infusion, so by throwing away the first water the caffeine will go. Nevertheless it is pity to decaffeinate a rare tea since this would mean losing some of its character.
Infuse 8-10g of tea in a litre of water at room temperature overnight. The tea obtained in this way will be full-bodied with a very pronounced flavor. Then refrigerate. Before serving add a twist of orange or little piece of lime to enhance the flavour.
For scented teas and blends it is recommended that 15 to 20g of tea are infused in one litre of cold water, for one hour in the case of black tea-based blends. Then keep refrigerated.
White tea (Aiguilles d’argent and Bai Mu Dan), 70-80 Celsius, 8-10 minutes infusion tme, 4 to 6 g
Green tea (New Season Chinese green teas Japanese green matcha) according to the finess 50-90 Celsius, 103 min, 4-8 g
Wu Long (oolong) teas such as (Gong Fu Cha method) 95 Celsius 5-7 min, 2.5-5 gr
Black teas China, India, Darjeling first flush, other flushes, Indian Assam, Sri Lanka, Broken leaf teas, Fannings 95 Celsius 2-5 min, 2.5 g
Dark teas, 95 Celsius, 4-5 min, 2.5 g
Scented teas (semi fermented, green tea base) 95 Celsius, 3-5 mint, 3 to 5 g
To sum up
For the best tea is recommended that mineral water or spring water be used. The temperature of the water is another aspect that is all too frequently neglected. The water should never be poured over the tea leaves at boiling point: this would burn them and destroy the aroma molecules that they contain, thus robbing the tea of the very essence of its bouquet. For certain very fragile teas it is even important not to overheat the water so as to preserve the delicacy of the leaf.