After my visit to the Upper West Side location of Le Palais des Thés's first US store, I knew I was hooked on their high quality teas and wonderful customer service. When I was invited to attend the opening party for their SoHo location, I knew I had to go.
With a great friend and budding tea lover in tow, we walked the chilly, rain-shined cobblestone streets of SoHo to find windows warmly lit and inviting. The party was in full swing when we arrived, and it was wonderful to see all the tea revelers!
We immediately spotted François-Xavier Delmas, the company's founder and tea traveler extraordinaire. If you haven't read his blog, definitely check it out. It documents his tea travels and is very absorbing. I managed to chat with him for a few minutes, but didn't want to ask too many questions since he was bombarded from every direction. I did find out that the store will offer introduction to tea classes, one which is actually this weekend. You can find it on 1000passions.com. François-Xavier also explained the intense tasting process for selecting teas and blends. I was honored to hear his stories!
What's a tea party without some tea? We were given samples of their signature Du Hammam and Des Moines and it was fun to sip in in the store surrounded by so many amazing teas. The SoHo space is larger than the UWS store, and perfect for a party. Even though it was crowded, I managed to talk with one of the staff about his breakfast tea choices. After smelling some lovely Darjeelings and Assams, he helped me select Assam Maijian to take home. It has a large amount of golden tips, and has a gorgeous aroma. I can't wait to try it, review coming soon! As I mentioned in my previous post, the staff here is friendly and very knowledgeable. You could talk tea with them for hours.
It was great to meet tea friends Nicole from Tea For Me Please and Mario from On the Go With Mario. I chat with many folks through twitter and it's always fun to put a face with a name. I think we need to organize a few NY tea meet-ups.
As we left we were given 'swag' bags with a book giving in-depth information about the teas, and a box of their famous Du Hammam. Woohoo! On our walk back to the subway my friend said she had an amazing time learning about tea. She's always been a black tea drinker but hadn't sought out anything other than a basic bag. But she said the visit, "Brought out the tea-ness in me", and she can't wait to try more.