Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Jun 7th 17 11:51 pm
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Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Aquarama » Jun 7th 17 11:51 pm

Is there a general consensus Mariage Freres? I have bought most my tea from them in the past because the I thought the quality was consistently good (or at the very least better than the stuff I could get a Whole Foods) but I don't see much talk of them here. I am starting to get into tea and wondering if I should look elsewhere.

They have some aged (sheng?) pu-erhs from 1995 and 1998 that I was thinking about ordering but I wanted to ask the forum what they thought. I would also like to try some of their green teas.

Jun 9th 17 7:01 pm
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by mael » Jun 9th 17 7:01 pm

I had a few tea from mariage freres but it was mostly scented teas. I didn't drink their puerh but in my opinion there should be better places, more specialized vendor to buy this kind of tea. But their puerh should be good, they are kind of generalist but sell good quality tea, but sometime it is too expensive. So maybe consider starting with tasting their teas and if you like their puerh or green tea go find other vendors online with more variety.

Jun 11th 17 5:26 am
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Bok » Jun 11th 17 5:26 am

Mostly overpriced. You kind of pay for the design rather than the quality. Daarjeelings are kind of ok. Had horrible experience with their puerhs. Thai oolongs even worse. Taiwan oolongs overpriced to a level I could not believe it. I used to buy their teas a lot too, when I did know nothing about tea :mrgreen:

MF also responsible for the invention of the French art of tea. Non-existent before them.

If you want even worse go the knock off TWG, renegade MF employee ripped the whole thing off and it is super successful in Asia... beats me :cry:

Jun 12th 17 10:14 pm
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Aquarama » Jun 12th 17 10:14 pm

Bok wrote: Mostly overpriced. You kind of pay for the design rather than the quality. Daarjeelings are kind of ok. Had horrible experience with their puerhs. Thai oolongs even worse. Taiwan oolongs overpriced to a level I could not believe it. I used to buy their teas a lot too, when I did know nothing about tea :mrgreen:

MF also responsible for the invention of the French art of tea. Non-existent before them.

If you want even worse go the knock off TWG, renegade MF employee ripped the whole thing off and it is super successful in Asia... beats me :cry:
Yes, I am familiar with TWG. What do you mean, you pay for design? It is a brand so I am sure factors into the cost. Their loose leaf tea generally comes in a black bag...I don't think it's nicer than most other tea places. You can pay extra to get it in a black tin but I don't do that unless that's the only option.

What is a good alternative to MF?

Jun 13th 17 5:37 am
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Bok » Jun 13th 17 5:37 am

Aquarama wrote: What do you mean, you pay for design? It is a brand so I am sure factors into the cost. Their loose leaf tea generally comes in a black bag...I don't think it's nicer than most other tea places. You can pay extra to get it in a black tin but I don't do that unless that's the only option.

What is a good alternative to MF?
I meant that the spend the money on the packaging rather than the quality of the tea, which will also affect the loose leafs as it is an overall budget issue. Better designed brands have to take out the money they sped somewhere, either from the customer by being expensive, or the quality of the product.

Alternatives? In terms of French tea brands? Kusmi tea is similar, but quality is lower. Palais du the is another one which has better quality. Hearsay has it the Maison des trois thes in Paris is quite decent.

For me none are alternatives, if you want Puerh, there is better options which you will find mentioned frequently around here.

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Jun 13th 17 2:11 pm
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by joelbct » Jun 13th 17 2:11 pm

I know next to nothing about Puerh, but as it is specialized, if I ever give it another shot I will stick with a vendor that specializes in Puerh, just as I wouldn't buy Sencha or Matcha from a vendor that didn't specialize in Japanese tea.
Bok wrote: Mostly overpriced. You kind of pay for the design rather than the quality. Daarjeelings are kind of ok. Had horrible experience with their puerhs. Thai oolongs even worse. Taiwan oolongs overpriced to a level I could not believe it. I used to buy their teas a lot too, when I did know nothing about tea :mrgreen:
As for MF, I wouldn't write them off entirely- I so far have tried only their Assams, which I can vouch for as excellent, some quite unique and perhaps unavailable anywhere else, and only one of which has extraordinary pricing. As we speak I'm sipping this Koilamari which is really astounding.

Their Darjeelings and China blacks I haven't tried, but I plan to and they do look quite good. I would find it surprising if MF Darjeeling isn't good, if, as rumor has it, MF possesses first dibs rights on (some percentage of?) Darjeeling invoices, before other vendors or wholesalers even get a shot.

As for pricing, I think what for example TeaVana in US does, hard sell tactics and selling mediocre tea at very high markups, sort of denigrates Tea.

But, it's a free world (somewhat), so if a business wants to set a price and see who will pay it, how is that really a bad thing? Nobody is forced to purchase, and if the price is too high, the product won't sell and they will have to lower it.

Some of Hojo's prices are very high as well, but at least some of what he sells is near impossible to find retail anywhere else, and super high quality, so I say let him charge whatever the market will bear. If vendors can't make a profit, MF included, they will cease to exist, and that doesn't help the consumer unless there is another avenue to purchase the product at a better price.

Jun 14th 17 6:18 am
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Aquarama » Jun 14th 17 6:18 am

Bok wrote: I meant that the spend the money on the packaging rather than the quality of the tea, which will also affect the loose leafs as it is an overall budget issue. Better designed brands have to take out the money they sped somewhere, either from the customer by being expensive, or the quality of the product.

Alternatives? In terms of French tea brands? Kusmi tea is similar, but quality is lower. Palais du the is another one which has better quality. Hearsay has it the Maison des trois thes in Paris is quite decent.

For me none are alternatives, if you want Puerh, there is better options which you will find mentioned frequently around here.
It sounds like for Pu-Erh I need to find a good specialized source.

But what about a good source for tea in general? By alternatives, I mean a vender that has a decent selection with good customer service but a higher quality of tea. I don't care about the brand being French...that seems like an unnecessary filter for tea.

I have only tried scented teas from Palais du The. What makes Palais du The superior to MF?

Jun 14th 17 8:39 am
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Bok » Jun 14th 17 8:39 am

Aquarama wrote: I have only tried scented teas from Palais du The. What makes Palais du The superior to MF?
Better sourcing. I have met the owner once and he is a very passionate guy. He said to me opening a business helps him to find and buy better tea. He is personally going to the plantations frequently.

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Jun 22nd 17 6:10 pm
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by yshuto » Jun 22nd 17 6:10 pm

Am drinking Mariage Freres 2016 FF DJ40 Margaret’s Hope. I tend to favor later pickings for their Darjeelings as opposed to the earlier DJ1/DJ2 pcikings. Why? Because the “green” taste of the tea is less intense allowing the other flavors within the tea to come out. But then again, I did drink the 2017 FF DJ2 Ambootia a few hours ago, which was also very good. Light on the “green” taste, full of flavor.

Over their long history in the tea retail business, over 160 years, they have developed strong relationships with various tea estates. Based on this and the sheer volume of tea they purchase, they can select teas before they are offered to other retailer/vendors/wholesalers, and have exclusive rights to some teas not offered to any other retailer/vendor/wholesaler.

Even with their faults, no free shipping, no sample sizes, somewhat expensive, I keep going back to them because of their quality, selection, and taste. I admit, I’ve only ordered their Darjeelings, Assams, Ceylons, yet they never disappoint. As for their Spring Darjeelings, they are outstanding. Mariage Freres customer service is excellent with their vast knowledge of tea.

Jun 23rd 17 12:28 pm
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Re: Mariage Freres for Pu-Erh?

by Bok » Jun 23rd 17 12:28 pm

yshuto wrote: Over their long history in the tea retail business, over 160 years, they have developed strong relationships with various tea estates. Based on this and the sheer volume of tea they purchase, they can select teas before they are offered to other retailer/vendors/wholesalers, and have exclusive rights to some teas not offered to any other retailer/vendor/wholesaler.
I agree that their Darjeelings are pretty decent. Was the only thing I used to buy when still living around their shops. Tose itself are worth a visit.

But - their history, at least in the way they do now business, is merely a generation old. As the story goes MF is old, but was almost bust and out of business when the last heiress of MF found two motivated young men which turned their fate around. One Frenchman, one Thai. If I am not wrong, one then ripped off the whole concept and founded TWG, also insunating a very old tradition with the date on their logo when it dates from the 2000...

Tea itself is barely worth mentioning in France before the revamped MF, they practically invented the French art of tea. More on that in the book Time of Tea. Highly recommended.