Good tea comes in good packaging. I should write about a glamorous search for the finest quality tea leaves from a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, all wide-brimmed hat and white linen – and maybe someday I will–but for me, I honestly derive more joy from opening my cabinet and seeing beautiful containers all lined up, than knowing the origins of the harvest.
A recent trip to Dubai found us at a tea bar, and I was nearly convinced that I would rather have a cup of tea than the hard-to-get cocktail, solely because I was transfixed by the colorful rows of TWG tea canisters lined up on floor-to-ceiling shelves. I know now that I love TWG because of the beautiful boxes they come in; the Silver Moon tea is gorgeous.I didn’t always realize that my love for tea is simply just a love for beautiful packaging, until I was acutely aware that the pink courtesan du chocolat Mendl’s boxes in The Grand Budapest Hotel invoked the exact same “I Want” feeling, drawn to precise attention to detail and simple elegance.
I started to get it. Later, when I opened a regular brown cardboard box, to find the Net-a-Porter matte black box tied with a black and white ribbon inside, same feeling. This old world approach to packaging – not glossy or slick or even innovative – gets me every time. There is something about what I call the Classic Parcel aesthetic that sparks my desire.
Of course taste does matter, as does the comfort tea gives you.
There is no better tea than Mariage Frères’ Wedding Impérial, for which I have my dear friend to thank, as she used to drink it daily when we lived together. The pleasant association and vanilla smell casts a bit of a spell.
However, here it is again: that Classic Parcel feel. Beyond packaging, let’s not forget that all the accoutrements for tea are also darling: the little pots, tiny spoons, delicate saucers, sandwiches and pastries… Mariage Frères has such beautiful glass pots. And so, the total um… package is really what gets me. You take the tea, I’ll take the cup.