Anyone for tea?
Breakfast tea? Earl Grey? Green? Chai? Lapsang Souchong?
It’s true that the British are one of the largest tea consumers in the world, with each person consuming on average 1.9kg per year. For me though, I found Paris to have more of a hidden tea culture, with more Asian tea shops & modern tea brands taking over the streets.
I’ve always been a tea lover, the more flavoursome and exotic the better. I get giddy in the tea aisle at my grocery store and speciality tea stores and brands are heaven to me! My cupboards are stocked with many brands such as Pukka, Yogi & Les Thés de Constance.
'Les Thés de Constance’ are really brewing up a storm this year and taking over the tea market one cup at a time! I had the pleasure of tasting the 'Chinese Green Tea Long Jing’ at a recent lunch in Paris. Present at the lunch was none other than the lovely Constance Braud, the founder and creative mind behind the brand!
Constance has always been fascinated by the rich and complex world of tea since a young age. After some years in the humanitarian world, she decided to fulfil her passion by creating the brand which we know today as Les Thés de Constance.
I caught up with Constance to hear about her day to day life, her inspiration behind the brand and her plans for the future.
How did your passion for tea begin at such a young age?
Tea time has always been a family ritual, between grandmother, mother, aunt and daughter. As soon as we could we met for tea, spending time together while enjoying this beneficial beverage. When I left home to pursue my studies, we continued our tea time tradition by phone. When I was young, I already dreamed of visiting China, collecting articles, postcards and drawings.
What is a typical day for you?
Obviously I start the day with a cup of tea, I choose the flavour depending on the season and my desire. At the office, I find myself timing things around cups of tea, I’m constantly trying new flavours, looking for the next tea that will get me excited. As soon as I can, I test a new tea room or restaurant where my tea is available. If I need to recharge my batteries at home, it’s with a cup of tea, a book and jazz music playing in the background.
What’s your inspiration behind Les Thes de Constance?
Les thés de constance, it’s a little bit "ma madeleine de Proust", teas that I particularly like, those whose notes and flavours remind me of my childhood. Memories such as cooking blackberries for homemade jams, the scent of my grandparent’s attic where I played with cousins and flowers that my father bought me in Tahiti. The discovery of a new tea always brings with it a deep emotion and an immediate sense of well-being. I trust my instincts and taste, I would never produce and promote a tea that I myself do not like.
You are now working with candles inspired by your teas, was this something you always wanted to do?
Yes absolutely. I did not want a traditional tea scented candle. I wanted a candle that couldn’t be found anywhere. I worked with extraordinary perfumers who have transported the taste and smell of my teas to fragranced candles, they have observed the emotions found while enjoying my teas.
What are your hopes for the future? Would you like to have a store?
Yes, I’d love to have a store in Paris but not right now.
For now, I plan to develop tailor made collections for luxury brands. Guerlain recently requested that I work with their fragrances, Shalimar, La Petite Robe Noire, L’Heure Bleue, Nerolia Bianca, Habit Rouge, Liu and Imperial Orchid. Teas that evoke these amazing perfumes are sold exclusively at the historic boutique on the Champs Elysees. I also have other exciting projects in process.
Which country has most influenced your tea?
Definitely China, firstly because it is the birthplace of tea, where it was discovered in 2737 BC, but also for the diversity and quality of its teas - all families and varieties of tea are produced there. China has always fascinated me, tea is a daily drink there but is also used for medical treatment. The health benefits are real but it is still necessary to choose the right tea and eat properly.
What’s your favourite tea?
Oh this is difficult! I like too many but if I had to choose one, it would be my last ‘Oolong de Thailande’ - le Green Jade, with notes of plants and flowers and the original taste of parsnip.
A high mountain oolong that keeps its promises!
What’s the technique for the perfect cup of tea?
The three golden rules. Always respect the brewing time, the quality and quantity of leaves and water temperature.
The conditions for success is to enjoy the tea. For purists, the material of the teapot and the choice of mug are also important.
Having time to prepare your tea means that you can transmit everything it has to offer.
Thank you Constance!
For more information, visit www.lesthesdeconstance.com