While we are crossing Japan, enjoying some real Japanese traditions, here’s some more Japanese inspired European business. Paper & Tea founder, Jens de Gruyter and his team, have made it their mission to make fine teas and tea culture more accessible to a broad audience in Western-Europe. In order to achieve this they opened a bright store on the first of December 2012 at the Bleibtreustrasse 4 in Berlin. In the store the presentation system of the teas encourages self-directed discovery, through a immediate sensory experience and dialogue in order for the customer to familiarize with the wide range of the offered. The store’s interior, designed in collaboration with product designer Fabian von Ferrari, resembles a mix of aesthetically purist concept store and natural history museum.
On free-standing presentation cubes, outfitted with sliding drawers, the individual teas are displayed in a practical fashion with accompanying information. Organized according to their degree of oxidation from white, to green, yellow, oolong, black and pu-er. This last tea is a specialty of Chinese tea culture, up to this point remaining virtually unknown to most Europeans. In the store visitors are invited to smell the individual teas on display, read about their origins, production processes and their tasting characteristics. They even are in the position to sample a particular tea, expertly brewed and served by a Paper & Tea ‘teaist’ at one of the tea tasting stations in the Chinese and Taiwanese style of Gong-Fu. Once a favorite has been identified, all teas are available in three different sizes of resealable vacuum packs. However; Paper & Tea’s ambitions reach beyond just the retail aspect and therefore an adjacent space has been set up to host regular tea seminars and tea tastings creating growing awareness of tea and it’s culture.
The store at the Bleibtreustrasse 4in Berlin is opened Monday until Saturday from 11:00 – 20:00.
The online shop is also worth a visit as it presents the teas and accessories, like the store, in a very elegant way.