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Mariage Frères: The Interview

February 7, 2011

I love coffee and I love tea, tea from Mariage Freres, that is.

I do not remember how I discovered Mariage Freres tea but I do know that it’s been yet another reason why I love France. I love entering their parlours and being seduced by the various parfum of tea stacked all around me. The tea experts dressed in their offwhite linen (?) blazers, set the stage for elegance. They are perfectly coiffed, the devil really is in the details. Their look, a silent companion to their vast knowledge of the pleasures and wonders of tea. I could listen to them all day and buy whatever they suggested. After purchasing my tea, Russian Star, my new favorite, I had to find out more about Mariage Freres. I thank Monsieur Cornillons of Mariage Freres (we first met at Maison et Objet) for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions.

Q: Bonjour Monsieur Cornillons, thank you so much for this interview.
You work for an amazing company whose products are known around the world. What do you like best about working for Mariage Freres?

Monsieur Cornillon: I feel lucky that I am surrounded by some of the most fabulous tea in the world.
I like the tradition and the attention to detail that has gone into our product since the past few hundreds years.
My company keeps creating new teas and new decorative objects, it never gets boring.
And, last but not least, it is always exciting to be at the epicenter of the tea universe (at least Paris is considered the tea capital of the world).

Q: When we first met at Le Club at Maison & Objet, you had a selection of tea to offer guests. What’s your goal when introducing tea to someone who may be unfamiliar with Mariage Freres?

MC: Notre objectif était de développer notre partenariat avec les organisateurs du salon Maison & Objet en leur proposant de communiquer autour de notre présence dans ce club réservé à leur meilleure clientèle.
Nous sommes souvent sollicités par des prestataires différents (Shangri-la Hotel ; Louis Vuitton ; Lacoste recently) pour ce type de prestation. Loose translation: Our objective is to develop a partnership  such as with Maison & Objet organizers in their club reserved for their prestigious clientele. We are often requested by different organizations (Shangri-la Hotel ; Louis Vuitton ; and recently Lacoste)

Q: Now, as an globetrotting American, great customer service is paramount. I’m sorry, it’s in the blood and a part of the American psyche. I digress, I love the look and feel of the boutiques. How long would it take for a very tall, tea lover like myself to earn the privilege to work in Mariage Freres? What are the actual positions of the tea experts (in the shops) called?

MC: It takes about 6 months of training to be familiar with our products.
A lot of the people that we employ are already strongly motivated tea enthusiasts, which makes the training easier and fun.
Our colleague’s positions are referred as just tea expert and tea connoisseur.

Q: How did you get into the tea industry?

MC: After a few trips in Asia, and being a huge tea drinker myself (3 liters a day keeps the doctor away, or so they say), it was a thrill to be hired by Mariage Frères and start working with such a renown Tea House.

Q: Scenario: I’m a bit on the fence about a guy I just met, but he intrigues me, so I suggested that we meet for tea (this is a thing that I love to do to test certain people) What kind of tea would be a good indication that this guy is a great guy?

MC: Always trust a loose leaf tea drinker.
If he likes tea bags with a dusty industrial tea in it (which has no taste) then it indicates that he (too) has no taste.

You clocked the T on that one! I will never forget this!

Q: What’s your favorite tea and why?

A: I have many favorites:

White tea, for it keeps my teeth clean (I’m joking)
Green Tea, for it connects me with nature, cleanse both body and soul (keeps the doctors away).
Blue tea, its wonderful floral and buttery taste brings relaxation to my mind.
Darjeeling Tea, for it reminds me of my trips in India.

Note: for those of you not familiar with the equally fabulous American slang, to “clock the t” means to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Now it’s tea time, good day to you.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 3:13 PM

    Great interview! I don’t consider myself a tea connoisseur, but I’ve been drinking it since I was wee, so I always prefer it to coffee. His advice about trusting loose leaf tea drinkers is something I will have to remember.

  2. February 10, 2011 3:14 PM

    Glad that you liked it! I thought his advice about the loose tea thing was a hoot and so very true.

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