Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Paris] Maison de Thé George Cannon

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 Maison de Thé

Add: 12 Rue Notre-Dame des Champs, 75006 Paris
Tel: +33 1 53 63 05 43
Hours: [Mon] 12~7:30pm [Tue-Sat] 10:30am~7:30pm (closed on Sun)
Price: €5~16/pot of tea, €4.50~8.50/pastry
Tasted on: Oct 2013

Just steps from the busy intersection of Boulevard Raspail and Rue de Rennes sits Maison de Thé George Cannon, a dainty little tea house run by the Scala family. It’s rather curious how I had never stepped into this place given how close it is to Ferrandi, where I spent my first 5 months in Paris, but I’m glad I finally did. One of their staff members happens to be a reader of Sugared & Spiced, and graciously invited me over for tea on a sunny afternoon.

A brief history on George Cannon. The company, first established in 1898 by a British man (Mr. George Cannon himself), was bought by Raymond Scala, and the company remains a Scala family business till today.

Upon seating, customers are greeted with a complimentary cup of tea that is “in degustation”. On the day of my visit, the tea in degustation was “l’eau”, a blend of Dong Ding Oolong, Tie GuanYin, Darjeeling, and Long Jing.

From a wide array of single-origin tea and perfumed tea, I chose Assam (€12.50/pot or €15.50 with tea desserts) from India, which gives off woody notes of moka, malt, and tobacco. Do note that not all teas on the menu are this pricey – most are in the €5~8/pot range.

Tea leaves, after being perfectly steeped, are presented on the side. Pictured below are tea leaves of Taiping Houkui from Anhui, China.

If you choose the “gourmet tea” option, which is €3 in addition to the price for the tea, you will be served a trio of sweet bites.

For those who want something more substantial, George Cannon offers a selection of Sadaharu Aoki as well as house-made pastries. I recommend the delicious scones (€8.50/3 pieces), which come with chantilly cream and red currant compote.

Before visiting George Cannon, I noticed on its website that the boutique hosts “chanoyu”, or Japanese tea ceremony. Intrigued,  I decided to try one of these one-hour sessions (€25/person) to see what it’s about.

A few minutes before the ceremony starts, guests are led downstairs to the basement of George Cannon, which has been converted to a Japanese tea room. Each guest is invited to rinse his/her hands symbolically before crawling through the low entrance.

The chashitsu, or tea room, imitates the typical tea room as seen in Japan – tatami floor, shoji screens, hanging scrolls and decorative flowers. Very simple, very zen.

The ceremony is conducted by Mr. Gilles Maucout, who is French by origin but has lived in Japan for many years, and is one of the few people in France who own the title “maître de thé”, master of tea.

All the materials used during the ceremony – such as the chakin (tea towel), chawan (tea bowl), natsume (tea caddy), chashaku (tea scoop), and chasen (tea whisk) – are brought back from Japan.

Before tea is served, guests are presented with bits of higashi, or Japanese dry confectionery.

There are two main ways of preparing matcha for tea ceremony: koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea). During this particular ceremony, we were served usucha, which is prepared by whipping matcha powder and hot water the the tea whisk, and presented in an individual bowl (whereas thick tea is served in one single bowl to be shared among several guests).

For those who have never experienced chanoyu and is curious to find out about Japanese traditional tea practice, this short session is a good introduction. The ceremony I attended was conducted in French as the customers were all French (except me, of course), but Mr. Maucout did mention that English explanation is possible if requested.

So, why not consider George Cannon as your next destination? Maybe you are interested in experiencing chanoyu, or perhaps you just want a cozy afternoon tea. Either way, come and stay a while.

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Written by sugarednspiced

November 13th, 2013 at 1:53 am