Palais des Thés is one of my favorite tea companies for a variety of reasons, their passion for tea education being one of them. Earlier this year, the company added a tasting space to their SoHo location in New York City. On vacay in Manhattan just a few weeks ago, I squeezed in a visit to check out one of their classes in person.
My love for Palais des Thés reached new heights last year, when my sister gave me a Japanese teapot and green tea sampler for my birthday. The handsome cobalt-blue Natsume cast iron teapot soon became my favorite (as you can see, I even worked it into my header during my blog redesign), and the teas were as delicious as they were beautifully packaged.Five days in New York is not enough time. On my only free weekday morning, I ended up in Palais des Thés’ Introduction to Tea & Tea Tasting class. I actually wanted to attend the Grand Cru Class where you can taste their most exclusive teas, but since the classes are kept small (4 to a session), spaces are limited and had already filled ahead of time.
Luckily, the Intro to Tea class exceeded all my expectations. I tasted 4 delightful teas: a white Bai Mu Dan, a green Sencha Ariake, a black 2nd flush Darjeeling (called Margaret’s Hope), and Bao Zhong Imperial oolong. My tea master, Justin, was not only super knowledgable but also enthusiastic and friendly–always a plus when you want to learn more about a subject as mysterious and complex as tea.
See that tin in the top left corner called Jukro? It’s a Korean black tea that Master Justin described as tasting chocolatey and rich, like slightly burnt brownie edges. It’s considered to be one of the best teas produced in South Korea, which is why I had to get some of it. If you’re curious, I’ll be reporting back on it soon!Here’s the other tea that I left the store with (don’t worry, only 2, not counting the free samples!), a new flavor from the Pure Indulgence line of teas. Teas from this collection are made up of only two ingredients: high quality tea and one natural flavoring. Pure Indulgence Vanilla is a combination of Chinese white tea and creamy, exotic vanilla from Madagascar and Réunion Island. Besides tea, there are many other beautiful tea treasures to be found at Palais des Thés. I love their wide selection of Japanese and Chinese teacups, like this box of hand-painted Yugure cups made in the Mino region of Japan (well-known for their pottery). I also love their colorful Ming and Qing Dynasty teacups, which I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time.
Palais des Thés has only 2 stores in the U.S., and they’re both in Manhattan. The shop in SoHo provides a lively shopping experience and even classes for a wide range of tea lovers, from amateurs to experts. For those of you who can’t make it here, check out the blog Discovering Tea by company founder François-Xavier Delmas to follow along on his tea adventures thoughout the world.Tea tasting courtesy of Palais des Thés. A special thanks to Ines Bejot for arranging this visit to Palais des Thés SoHo.
Palais des Thés SoHo
156 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012
To find out more about their tea school and classes, click here.