Like many tea connoisseurs, my go-to leaf specialist has always been the French brand, Mariage Frères, founded in 1854. No trip to Paris was complete without a visit to its elegant boutique and tea salon in the Marais, to stock up on my favourite White Magic and Bouddha Bleu teas.
But last year, for Christmas, a French friend and fellow tea fanatic gave me a tin of Ginger-Lemon Green Tea by a brand I hadn’t heard of: Kusmi.
Further investigation revealed that its history is as illustrious and (almost) as long as that of Mariage Frères. Founded in St Petersburg in 1867, Kusmi relocated to Paris at the onset of the Russian Revolution in 1917, where it currently has several boutiques.
I immediately loved the old-fashioned packaging but remained a little skeptical, as many flavoured green teas have a bitter, cabbagey taste. But as I sniffed the densely aromatic leaves, I knew I would not be disappointed. It is clean and invigorating on the palate, and is now my favourite afternoon tea, perfect for beating the 3pm slump.
Impressed by this and the brightly patterned tins – a different colour for each blend – I’m now working my way through the Russian teas, which have wonderful names such as Euphoria, Anastasia and Prince Vladimir. And as I’ve recently discovered, you don’t have to go to Paris to buy Kusmi tea as John Lewis now offers a selection on its website, at £11.70 for 125g.