While I was visiting the Galeries Lafayette in Paris two months ago, I found a pretty pink tea caddy called Thé Original Marie-Antoinette by NINA’s Paris. As a major fan of Marie Antoinette, I thought it was the perfect souvenir to take home. Of course, wanting to know more about the history behind Nina’s Paris, my internet research led me to the tea salon 29 Rue Danielle Casanova near la place Vendôme in the 1st Arrondissement.
NINA’s goes back to 1672, when Pierre Diaz created La Distillerie Frères, the first company to distill lavender essential oils in France. He became the privileged supplier of aromas and perfumes to the Court of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV. Generations later, NINA’s decided to create uniquely aromatic teas. The name of the tea brand and salon is taken from Nina Diaz, who created the (recipe of the) Ninasette cake for Queen Marie Antoinette in 1778. This recipe was passed on exclusively to the women in the Diaz family for centuries.
Thé Original de Marie-Antoinette
The Thé (French for tea) Original de Marie-Antoinette is dedicated to Marie Antoinette (apparently also in 1778). It is a perfumed tea with apples and roses from Le Potager du Roi, a historical garden in Versailles created at the request of Louis XIV. This immense garden became the favourite of Marie Antoinette and NINA’s is the exclusive official partner of the Potager du Roi to use the fruit from the garden.
Ingredients: Ceylon tea with rose petals, roses, and apples The tea caddy, as mentioned earlier, is pink, decorated with roses that Marie Antoinette loved so much and even bears her monogram on the lid. It costs 13,50€.
The Tea Salon
When I walked into the small but charming salon, my inner self squealed with delight. Everything in the two-floor tea salon is Marie-Antoinette-themed, from the flower petals on the walls to the replica bust of the former Queen of France. The back of the room even has a robe à l’anglaise costume (so it seems to me) and a replica of Marie Antoinette’s last shoe(s) that she had lost in 1793. There are at least three tables on the main floor. I did not get a chance to go upstairs but I assume that is where the w.c.’s are. I do not know who owns the salon but I assume the French-speaking Japanese lady at NINA’s Vendôme could be the current owner.
- Tea from NINA’s Paris
- Gâteau (cake) de Marie-Antoinette
- Chocolate (not mentioned on the menu)
At 15€, this afternoon tea is the cheapest in Paris. Granted, it does not come in a three-tiered tray with sandwiches, scones, or macarons, but what you get is what you paid for! I ordered the Thé Original de Marie-Antoinette, which I really enjoyed with just a bit of sugar. I don’t usually eat chocolates and sadly, I do not remember what was inside the chocolate, but I do remember being surprised that I liked it. Maybe it was mint? As for the cake – please do not quote that horrid four-word sentence that everyone thinks poor Marie-Antoinette said – I was equally delighted that it was so appetising as I’d been afraid that it would be dry and bland. The fruit cake is sweet but even the icing is not too heavy on sugar. Although I do not know what is inside the cake, I believe I’d read somewhere that the recipe comes from a Japanese chef (the owner?).
[rating=5] I clearly loved my experience at NINA’s Paris and am certain that tea-lovers, Francophiles, and friends of Marie Antoinette will enjoy this salon as well!