Where To Buy Your Lapsang Souchong

It’s clearly a dilemma but one that I’ve been determined to solve as I have a love affair with the smokey, ethereal flavour and taste of Lapsang Souchong, the fabled tea from China.It’s name is derived from the Mandarin and means literally “sub variety from Lapu Mountain”.

It’s a black tea that came originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. Lapsang is distinct from all varieties of tea because the lapsang leaves are traditionally smoke-dried over pinewood fires that give it its distinctive smoky flavour.

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Smoky teas were first developed in Chongan County in the 17th century. The Chinese smoke their tea in artisanal fashion. After oxidation, Souchong leaves are grilled on a hot iron plate, then arranged on bamboo racks over a fire fuelled by green pine logs that give off their scent. Smoky teas are known for their substantial character

Lapsang from Wuyi is increasingly expensive as it’s a small area and there is an increasing demand for the variety of tea.

But back to my original question. Where best to buy it from? In my view there is only one supplier of tea that I trust to whet my appetite for the very finest and utterly reliably sourced teas: Mariage Frères-the French gourmet tea company based in Paris, France.

Founded by the two eponymous brothers-Henri and Edouard-in 1854 and for over 130 years managed by a succession of Mariage family members this is the High Temple of Tea.

In 1983 the company was transformed from a wholesale importer into a retailer. Now under the leadership of Kitti Cha Sangmanee and Richard Bueno, Mariage Frères opened tea houses in central Paris. The first such tea salon was on the rue du Bourg-Tibourg and opened in the same building that Henri Mariage had as his office over 150 years ago.

Today, the company has  thirty Mariage Frères outlets in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. There are also 4 Mariage Frères tea salons in Paris.The MF brand is also distributed through resellers in over 60 countries and served in famous hotels in Paris and London.

To my mind there is no substitute for Mariage Frères’ LAPSANG SOUCHONG IMPÉRIAL about which they have this to say:

“The most refined of smoky teas–its long, uniformly handsome leaves are carefully smoked over rare wood in a traditional manner. A rich yet subtle tea for daytime”.

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Never have truer words been spoken. Order some today.

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Top 10 Luxury Gifts For Xmas 2015

With Santa spinning his wheels for his 2015 World Tour our attention turns to what might turn up at the foot of the bed come Xmas Day.

Here are a few modest trinkets that would be most welcome in my stocking this year.

1.Michel Cluizel Dark Chocolate 85%. My favorite chocolate from the famed Parisien chocolatier.

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2. Jacques Selosse “Substance” Champagne. A very unusual and rare Solera-style wine. 97 points WA.

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3. Bianca Mosca wallet in alligator with a goatskin lining. Delectable and butter smooth handmade perfection.

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4. Elie Bleu fountain pen orange sycamore. Part of the fruit wood collection.

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5. Connor NYC stationery. Superlative hand-engraved stationery.

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6. Brora Trilby. In wool and leather. Also in navy.

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7. Thorsun Fan swim trunks. Perfect for New Year in St. Barts

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8. Rose Bespoke Tie. Screen-printed motifs, crests and inscriptions of your choice.

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9. Bresciani cotton socks. Sublime comfort and Italian style.

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10. Derek Rose silk pajamas. Seductive and elegant.

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10 Ultra Luxury Watches for Xmas 2015

With Santa just around the corner for his 2015 world trip, the gnomes at Switzerland’s workshops are busily producing new products to be ready in time for the gifting season. Many of these timepieces were unveiled earlier in the year at Basel and SIHH in Geneva and are just becoming available now. Anything from this wonderful selection would be most welcome

Lange & Söhne Saxonia, Saxonia Automatic and Saxonia Dual Time

This storied German watch brand has updated three of its models from its popular Saxonia collection. The solid-gold applied hour markers have been moved toward the outside of the dial and are executed as double baton appliqués at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock; along with extended black gradations of the minute scale. For the Automatic and Dual Time models, the seconds subdial is marked by numerals every ten seconds. All modifications were made in the interest of improved readability. The new designs result in a slightly smaller case for these two models. The Saxonia is powered with the in-house manual wind caliber L941.1, the Automatic uses the in-house L086.1 caliber, and the Dual Time uses the in-house automatic L086.2 caliber.

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Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum

The name Orbis Terrarum, is Latin for “globe,” “earth,” and “world.” This in-house complication: the MB29.20 automatic caliber displays 24 time zones in a very practical and clever way. The dial constructed in multi-layers, displays continents and oceans as seen from the Pole. Under the main dial is a disc showing day and night, which rotates with the movement of the 24-hour mechanism on the outermost layer on the dial. The names of an amazing 24 cities circle the center image surrounded by their zones on a 24-hour mechanism. The disc with the cities rotates separately with the aid of a pusher located at 8 o’clock. To adjust the time the home city needs positioning with the corresponding time at 6 o’clock.

Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas

This august luxury house is re-introducing its Cadenas watch, first created in 1935 and is said to have been inspired by a zip necklace worn by the Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor. It’s known for an unashamedly modern design ethic with a large double hoop-shaped curve attached to a straight-lined case. This new collection is of nine models, powered by a quartz movement. The Cadenas is available in yellow or white gold. The Cadenas Sertie, in yellow or white gold, has diamonds on the upper surface of the case and an alligator strap attachment.

The Cadenas watch by Van Cleef & Arpels
The Cadenas watch by Van Cleef & Arpels

IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar

This famous annual calendar model shows month, date and day in three separate, semicircular windows. The switching mechanism automatically takes into account differing lengths of months. A perpetual calendar, the annual calendar cannot factor the differing lengths of the month of February or the leap years. Once a year, at the end of February, ithe watch requires manual adjustment with a built-in “corrector.” Its 44mm case, grooved bezel, the Portugieser Annual Calendar resembles the original Portugieser model of 1939. The small seconds sub-dial is positioned at 9 o’clock. The sub-dial on the opposite side serves as the power reserve display. The automatic in-house 52850 caliber movement has a seven day power reserve.

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Squelette

The bridge and main plate of the automatic PF705 caliber skeleton watch (for men and ladies) features a hand crafted open display. This reveals a skeleton movement that compliments the extra-thin construction. A platinum micro rotor can be seen on the surface of the watch. The pattern consists of the PM’s iconic lugs. The dial is made of sapphire, giving an impression of being invisible. The rim is metalized, which hides the points of attachment between the movement and the case. The dial on the men’s model is highly polished and transparent, whilst the ladies’ model features a lovely and subtly frosted dial that resembles a women’s veil.

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Piaget Black Tie ‘Vintage Inspiration’ and ‘Traditional Oval’

These new models reflect the heritage of Piaget’s watches. The cushion-shaped Black Tie Vintage Inspiration has a slim profile thanks to its automatic Piaget 534P movement. The white gold bezel creates a wonderful contrast with the intense blackness of its onyx dial for a very contemporary masculine look. The Black Tie Traditional Oval for ladies features an oval case with a silver dial. The bezel is topped with 24 brilliant cut diamonds.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon

Dubuis has taken the skeleton theme beyond the movement, extending it to include the 45mm skeletonized titanium case. It has all of the features of Roger Dubuis other skeleton watches, such as star-shaped design, the tourbillon shaped like a Celtic cross and other top finishes. The mechanism is a hand-wound RD505SQ caliber that features a flying tourbillon at 7:30 (one rotation per minute) and a 60-hour power-reserve.he CEO Who Saved Continental Airlines

Richard Mille RM 33-01 Automatic

The skeleton appearance RMXP3 caliber that runs the RM 33-01 has an off-center platinum micro rotor. This reveals a grade 5 titanium movement, that is wet sand blasted the surfaces micro blasted then drawn and satin-finished with the anglage worked entirely by hand. The taut lines of this sport-inspired design combine curvature of the brand’s tonneau like cases with the construction characteristic of its elegant round watches. The graphical style of the numerals with outsized dimensions provides easier reading. The tri-partite case, with a diameter of 45 mm and a thickness of 9 mm, is mounted on a rubber strap with a folding clasp in titanium. According to Richard Mille this is a chic design with a sporty feel.

Greubel Forsey Black GMT

The 43 mm case is made of titanium treated with amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC), a highly specialized black coating that displays many of the properties of a diamond. It is much harder than natural titanium. The main plate and bridges have a black finish too. Greubel Forsey says this is to bring out the contrast between the textures and surface finish of each component. The case houses a GF05 in-house movement with a 24-second tourbillon at a 25 degree angle GMT function, three-dimension globe for the day and night indication; a rotating disc with 24 different time zones, daylight savings indicator and a 72 hour power reserve feature. The watch is in a limited production of 22 pieces.

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