Atelier de thé, my little discovery

My hometown never belonged to the group of great metropolies. It’s not big, rather medium-sized with many places of green – like parks, tree alleys and a forest at the east end of city limits. We don’t have much interesting places to go here. No cinema, no shopping galleries or fancy perfume boutiques. But what we have here are cafes. They’re placed all around the town square and when May begins those cafes go outside and organize open air gardens with decadent tables, chairs and umbrellas. Tea is an important part of my lifestyle and it was first before perfume came into my life. One day I made a discovery that taught me a good lesson.

It happened in September, few weeks before my friend’s birthday. I was walking around an Old Town trying to figure out what can I buy. Many thoughts were rushing through my mind and then I passed next to that place. A small shop with on old lamp that gave a warm, orange light. The place was closed for many years and now that it was open I was curious what kind of shop I’ll find inside. So I walked in and got greeted by a lovely lady who said “welcome to my shop, a place where dreams come true if you let them guide you.” That’s a mystery.

Discovered place happened to be a tiny tea shop. Inside there were shelves, high to the ceiling, all covered with jars filled with different tea compositions. Lady told me a story of creating the place and about her passion for tea. On the table there stood an old style weight and a samovar. A big part of interior design was taken by a brown leather couch and a coffee table. You could try the tea before you made a decision of a purchase. I became a regular visitor and befriended the owner lady. Two months later I came with a visit but the shop was no longer there. It disappeared for half a year. It returned in a new, bigger place and a whole new concept.

Finding a new location was a relief for me when I saw a face of the lady again. New place got a name of Atelier de thé and offered completely new experience to it’s customers. Instead of ready to brew tea compositions (which still are being sold) you were asked to create your own blend. The same old jars were placed on different shelves and put into groups. Jars from the shelf on the left contained tea leaves, more than 20 different kinds; green, black, red, white, rooibos and many more. Jars from all other shelves were hiding treasures – tea ingredients. Dry petals of roses, violets, osmanthus, jasmine. Rinds of grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange. Particles of lyophilized strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Spices like cinnamon, star anise, red pepper, cardamom, coriander were also available. Not to mention confectionery chocolate, candied sugar, caramel pieces. It was like heaven. The number of available ingredients for flavouring a tea was overwhelming.

Paying a symbolic amount of money I could create 3 blends, brew them immediately in a cup to decide if I’m satisfied. If I was happy with my creation I could purchase a 50 gram bag of my tea blend. At my first attempt it took me 3 hours before I went out with my first tea composition. It was a valuable experience. Not only it taught me a lot of combinig tastes but also an experience to my nose. It was impossible not to smell the content of every jar. Smell of rose petals or cinnamon was intoxicating. Now there’s a thing to regret… The owner, mrs. Kate decided with her husband and daughter to emigrate to Netherlands. New owner of Atelier de thé made one step backwards. Tea shop no longer offers a custom created tea blends, the offer is filled with wide variety of ready compositons only. Luckily she agrees to order artisan ingredients for me and other regular visitors.

Would you like to try and create your own tea composition? If yes, what would you like to put into your dream tea? Or maybe you already have your all time favourite. Share with us and we’ll have some tea chit-chat here.


16 thoughts on “Atelier de thé, my little discovery

  1. poodle says:

    I’m a tea freak too. I’m trying to drink up some of what I have but I always seem to be buying more. I do blend things together once in a while. I have bought some tea flavors that sounded great in theory but in the cup, not so much. I hate throwing things out so that’s when I start mixing something in to make them drinkable, like vanilla or peppermint. The one thing I don’t like in my tea blends is black pepper. It always overwhelms everything else and I just can’t stand it. On food, yes. In my tea, no. I don’t have any tea stores super close to me but we have a new grocery store in the area that has a lot of loose teas as well as a great selection of bagged teas. The one tea store that I do go to now and then is fun to browse but they are super expensive so I don’t usually buy much.

    • lucasai says:

      I usually try to empty one bag before buying another one. Don’t want to be overwhelmed by teas I have. I’m with you for the pepper. I also don’t like it in tea, though I once had a tea with strawberry and pink pepper and it was alright.
      Atelier de the is relatively close to my house and their prices are very affordable.

  2. jilliecat says:

    Your story almost reads like a mystical tale – as though the lady was a (white) witch, with magical powers. Well, I suppose tea is an amazing potion for lifting your spirits, calming your nerves or just refreshing you.

    I am always obsessed with rose flavoured tea (or rose flavoured anything!), but also like almond tea – we had this today with a slice of almond cake, and they complemented each other well. I have bought dried rosebuds to mix with Earl Grey, and sometimes even add a little extra bergamot oil to give it a boost as I like that deep citrus hit. And then there are times when only a mug of “builder’s tea” will do – straight up, really strong Assam, so thick you could almost stand your spoon up in it and the tannins coat your teeth.

    • lucasai says:

      It was a magical experience when that happened. Yes, tea really matters to me. It keeps my spirits high, boosts my mood on a bad day and at some level it makes me healthier. Earl Grey with rosebuds sounds great and some bergamot oil make it even more English. I’ve been drinking this Assam from time to time.

  3. hajusuuri says:

    Wow, I love the description of your adventure. I’m more of a coffee person but this made me want to visit a store called “Teavana” at the local mall.

    What tips can you provide as far as avoiding teas, specially herbal ones, that may affect the body – blood pressure, blood clotting, blood sugar, etc.?

    • jillie says:

      Hope Lucas doesn’t mind me jumping in here! I am no expert, but do know that you are probably right to avoid some herbal teas if you suffer certain problems and I think you should run some Google checks. All I know is that chamomile is good at soothing and calming you (but I can’t stand the taste!), and that straightforward, ordinary black tea, like Assam, Kenyan and Ceylon, is actually really good for the heart – steep the leaves for at least four minutes to get the full health-giving benefits. There is a very small amount of caffeine in black tea, but nothing like as much as in coffee.

      I reckon that most flavoured black teas probably wouldn’t be at all harmful, as the amount of other ingredients added is not big, and you are not likely to be drinking huge quantities! And even with the herbal tisanes, you would probably not drink sufficient volume to hurt. And I think blood sugar is more likely to be affected by the honey or sugar that someone adds than by the small amount of herb in the tea!

      Happy drinking.

    • lucasai says:

      What a nice name is “Teavana”.
      I’m not a tea expert but I drink tea for many years and if you don’t overdo you’re gonna be alright. And green tea is quite health.

    • poodle says:

      Licorice tea can raise your blood pressure.

  4. shellyw says:

    Lovely description and writing. I have found on the few perfume “sniffs” I have gone to, that there does seem to be a high number of tea lovers in the group. The local Peets (coffee and tea place that is sooo much better than Starbucks) here has a lovely black tea with black currant. The scent, the warm mug… makes 5:30 am not so taxing. They also have a blend with osmanthus which pops up in perfume a lot.

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