Perfume is not the only source of breathtaking fragrant delights. Here is a tea that can keep up with the finest fragrances when it comes to delivering exquisite olfactory experiences — Lily Muguet blue tea from Mariage Freres. Want to know why I fell in love with it? Then keep on reading!
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Lily Muguet blue tea
Today I want to show you a fragrant treasure of a different kind. Being interested in scent means I don’t concentrate on perfumes only. Scents are everywhere, paying attention to how the world smells is an exciting journey. Aromas of fine spirits, coffee and a million more things in the kitchen, garden and even garage can be as nuanced as beloved fragrances. And just as enjoyable, with the added benefit of some of them also stimulating the taste buds.
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So here is my newest tea discovery that I find as special and unique as fine perfume. It’s Lily Muguet blue tea from Mariage Freres. First saw it in a blog where it was praised as a very naturalistic lily of the valley representation in the drinkable medium of tea.
Turns out the Lily Muguet series (there are also black, green & white tea varieties available, but the blue one has, in my opinion, the most distinct and clear flavour) is released every year as a limited edition in May to celebrate the French Labour Day which has the delicate white flower as its symbol. (Don’t worry, I’m writing this in September and the tea is still available on brand’s website).
As you can see from the photos, despite it being a rather pricey tea I am so impressed that I got myself not one, but two tins just in case. So what makes it special?
It’s the combination of lightness and freshness with the typical tea mouthfeel that I find spectacular. Tea in general is a pretty aromatic brew — it has the plant green notes, the woody side, the zing of the fermentation, something earthy to it too. A liquid packed with intense flavours. And now think of a veil of fresh cool spring air or icy spring water laid on top of this hot surface. Hard to imagine, right? But that’s exactly the effect I get from Lily Muguet tea.
Feels like it somehow combines two completely opposite sensations — hot and cool, intense and light, herby-earthy and the most ethereal gentle floral. An olfactory and taste experience unlike any other!
As for the lily of the valley — I don’t really get a realistic flower impression here. But it doesn’t matter, because the tea is an amazing, even if somewhat abstract composition.
The tin design changes a bit every year, but the colour scheme remains the same — blue, green, white and black representing the tea types that are flavoured with the secret formula of the lily of the valley aroma. As you might know, the real lily of the valley plant is not used for food or beverages because it is poisonous to humans (and pets). So the wizards from Mariage Freres had come up with a safe way to emulate the effect using non-toxic ingredients.
To feed my curiosity I might try the other (green, black or white) varieties next year, but this summer I was blown away by the blue Lily Muguet. So far, my friends who also bought anything from this series and I came to the consensus that the “blue” tea is the one that works best with this specific aroma. It underlines the lightness and freshness of the lily of the valley inspired scent in the most flattering way without overpowering it or being too weak as a carrier.
The term “blue” in connection with tea is proprietary to Mariage Freres. This is the way they chose to call the tea-leaf fermentation grade that is between the fully fermented black tea and the completely unfermented green tea categories. This type of tea is commonly known as oolong tea and it kinda combines the best of both worlds — a bit of tart woody roast aromas of the black and the fresh plant flavours of the green tea at the same time.
But in the case of Lily Muguet blue tea the colour is not only a branded trade name for a tea-leaf type. The brew actually looks blue in the cup! Thanks to the addition of dried butterfly pea flowers to the tea leaves the water changes its typical green-brown colour to blue-ish.
The flower that magically transforms the liquid is also known as blue tea flower or Asian pigeonwings, but its proper Latin name is Clitoria ternatea (and yes, whoever came up with the name did notice the similarity between the flower’s shape and certain body parts, just in case you are wondering ;-). The ability of the flowers to produce blue beverages has been harnessed for centuries, and should you desire to blue-up your life, it’s possible to buy a pack of dried flowers on the internet to add to whatever one pleases.
My verdict on the blue Lily Muguet tea from Mariage Freres is: it’s an exquisite and unusual tea that offers great pleasure to everyone who enjoys exploring scents and flavours. So if you are into perfumes, I highly recommend you try it, because it’s an excellent way to diversify the olfactory experience into a different and edible carrier medium. And for everybody else — it is a great gift and a little special treat with its unexpected colour and pretty packaging.
Where to buy Lily Muguet tea
Mariage Freres stores & online shops
All Mariage Freres teas can be bought through their official website. Despite it being a limited May edition, Lily Muguet was still available at the time of the publication in September. The webshop offers worldwide shipping, but the shipping costs can be somewhat discouraging, depending on the location. I wish they would establish some fulfilment centres in different regions or look into their existing logistics contracts to find a more cost-efficient way to get their teas to tea lovers around the globe.
Of course, there are also third-party online food and deli shops that offer this tea. They might be a better option regarding shipping, but some googling on your part is required.
The overall best way to purchase Mariage Freres tea is hands down in their boutiques! There are several of them in Paris and around the world. Berlin is one of the lucky cities to have a proper store located downstairs on the gourmet floor of Galeries Lafayette. That’s where I get my tea from. It’s a pleasure to chat with the assistants who really know their turf and can show you teas based on the inspiration you provide them with (my favourite request is “teas that can take it up with fine perfume”, discovered several great blends this way). In Berlin, there is also a shelf with Mariage Freres teas at KaDeWe, but the selection is smaller (as is the space) and there isn’t a dedicated person to guide you through all the options.
You can find a list of all the major retail locations that sell Mariage Freres here on their website. I have noticed that smaller corners or shelves in department stores or multi-brand shops might not be listed (for instance, Berlin’s KaDeWe and Apropos in Cologne aren’t there), so some local knowledge might be required to find a place near you. But if you can, go there and enjoy the beautiful tea flavour experience, it’s worth it!
What other scented mediums do you enjoy smelling apart from perfume?