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Mariage Frères Marco Polo Tea

mariage frères

mariage frères

Coffee is immensely popular in the United States, but there are times when tea is more appropriate.  In a world of increasing technology and single-serving brewed beverages, we can’t forget that tea bags were first patented 110 years ago.  The only improvement that single-serving automated machines have made is decrease in time, but our belief is quality can’t be rushed.  What’s wrong with waiting five minutes for fragrant, delicious tea?

cotton muslin sachets

cotton muslin sachets

When we stopped by Chantal Guillon on Bastille Day, not coffee but tea was the beverage offered, both hot and iced.  August got a wonderfully special iced tea, so we were inspired to buy something to bring home along with an assortment of macarons.  Mariage Frères of Paris has a history reaching back to the 17th century, with generations of a single family working towards “refinement and perfection.”  There are Mariage Frères tea houses in Europe and Japan only, but luckily Chantal Guillon carries a selection to make your home a tea house.

5 minute infusion

5 minute infusion

Marco Polo is a blend of Chinese and Tibetan flowers, with an intoxicatingly fruity and floral aroma.  The taste is smooth and light, and when August added just a touch of cream to her cup, she felt that the flavors of the tea better matched the scent.  Like Marco Polo in uncharted waters, this tea is incomparable.  We can’t say it’s like green tea, or with notes of rose, nor is it like oolong or lapsang souchong that we can tell.  It is simply unique, its own flavor.  It is the perfect kind of tea to sip slowly with at least two of the following three things: a roaring fireplace, a book, and a pet curled in your lap, with a tea to take you away from the mundane.

Chantal Guillon, San Francisco CA

chantal guillonIf you focus on one or two themes at a time, you can be an expert.  This applies to a number of things, like learning a musical instrument, going to college, and developing the perfect product.  Chantal Guillon, purveyor of macarons and fine teas, excels in pastry making.  August got a delicious iced tea for the road back from celebrating Bastille Day in San Francisco, and we couldn’t leave without one of each of the macarons to try later at home.

macarons!All of the macarons had crisp exteriors hiding rich and sometimes unconventional fillings, ranging from standard buttercream to jelly, and even whole peanuts.  One of the flavors had run out by the time we got to Chantal Guillon, but the sixteen available were still beyond all expectations.  Pictured above we have:

Tahitian Vanilla

Red Velvet

Caramelized Whole Peanuts and Cinnamon

Coffee

Almond Amaretto

Lemon

Apricot

Cherry Amarena

Passion Fruit

Jasmine Green Tea

Valentino Raspberry-Lychee

Orange Blossom Strawberry

Persian Rose

Dark Chocolate

Salted Caramel

Italian Pistachio

Readers, the first of you who can correctly match the names with the macarons in the picture above before July 19 will receive a $20 gift certificate to Chantal Guillon!  We vouch for the veracity of the cookies’ flavors, so expect nothing less than true taste when you take a bite.  The Cherry Amarena, for one, had the mild tartness of rich deep cherry, and it seemed like there was even a small candied cherry in the center.  Similarly, the Orange Blossom Strawberry had a creamy buttercream that enveloped a small square of strawberry jelly.  The Red Velvet, even, had a filling with the flavor of real cream cheese frosting.

Are you already in San Francisco, looking for a new spot to satisfy your sweet tooth?  Or are you from out of town, planning a trip to the city by the bay?  Either way, you cannot pass up this little shop.  There’s plenty of public transportation and parking lots, so there’s no excuse.