A fancy new tea museum, shop and restaurant have opened in Covent Garden.
French brand Mariage Frères has taken up residence in a five-storey Georgian townhouse in King Street, unveiling what it claims is the largest collection of tea in the world, displayed in an apothecary-style wall — apparently the longest of its kind.
Vintage is the theme here, with many subtle nods to the brand's 150-year history. 1000 varieties of tea from 26 countries are available to buy by weight from antique black canisters, with tea specialists dressed in white linen on hand to offer advice. Oh, and you pay at a vintage cashier booth.
If 1,200sqm of tea gets your appetite going, head up to the first floor Salon de Thé, a dining room split into two parts; the Voyage is a gallery situated in the atrium and flooded with daylight, while the White Himalayan Room is a more private experience, with antique tea canisters and imagery from Marco Polo tea campaigns as the decor.
Breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are all served, with tea used as an ingredient throughout the menu — think roasted chicken with smoky Black Léopard Tea, and tea-infused desserts such as rooibos tea-candied strawberries, served with cream. Cocktails are available too, including the Mirabeau Ballet, consisting of black tea with red hibiscus blended with liquorice, lychee and white rum.
If you're really into your tea — the fact that you've made it this far into the article suggests you are — head up another level to the second floor Museé de Thé, showcasing antiques from the tea trade. Pride of place is the personal collection of the Mariage Frères family, including oak and beech tea chests and pewter tea boxes from their years at sea. Teapots, caddies, canisters and old archives are also on display.
Mariage Frères was founded by French brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage in 1854 and has been operating out of the Marais district of Paris ever since 1854, although the Mariage family is no longer involved in the company.
King Street, the road on which Mariage Frères has opened, is also home to Petersham Nurseries, quirky art gallery Melissa, and Clos Maggiore, often named as the most romantic restaurant in the world. Taking all that into account, it's probably the most Instagram-friendly streets in the capital right now.
Mariage Frères, 38 King Street, Covent Garden. Open seven days a week, 9am-10pm.