Once upon a time on the Upper East Side in the Land of Gotham, there lived a prince pastry chef who provided a consistently excellent and affordable three-course, French-style afternoon tea. People came from far and wide to visit this tea castle where time seemed to stop once one’s feet crossed the threshold. This magical place was called Payard Patisserie & Bistro where the tea sandwiches were miniature masterpieces, chocolate flowed like water, and macarons blossomed abundantly.
This tea tin shown once held the signature Payard Blend, a black tea blended by Harney & Sons and a fine tribute to Franco-American relations. Its memorable flavor profile prompted me to turn my memories into a newly refilled tin. So began this tea adventure.
Athough the Payard Blend is available with a different label online, I decided to use my local advantage and save myself the shipping costs. Going to François Payard Bakery seemed like a good idea: save shipping, get some exercise, and remedy an empty tin. Truly there are few things sadder to an unapologetic tea aficionado than an empty tin, n’est-ce pas?
Accompanied by my ever faithful travel companion, also known as an unlimited MetroCard, I eagerly navigated Greenwich Village to 116 West Houston Street between Thompson and Sullivan Streets [Subway: Broadway-Lafayette (B, D, F, M)].This is the site that welcomed me:
Be not distracted by this tempting display of pastry par excellence. Focus. Remember today’s mission is tea. Carefully reading the labels on all the tea tins, however, I saw no Payard Blend. No Payard Blend?! Where’s the Payard Blend? Alas, the elusive Payard Blend tea was not at home.
Instead of dragging myself over to the Plaza Hotel and drowning my sorrow at the FC Chocolate Bar, I attempted to console my disappointingly empty tea quest with a temporary diversion: lunch. The turkey and Gruyere cheese sandwich on pretzel bread paired with a rich, hearty lentil soup greatly improved my disposition.
What tea does one choose after priming the taste buds with such great anticipation? Please don’t get it twisted: this was no time for tisanes. A thoroughly enjoyable Earl Grey carried the day. While I sipped my senses suddenly became alert to the chocolates and macarons surrounding me. A jumbo cranberry macaron beckoned like a siren and answering the call, I discovered it pairs quite nicely with Earl Grey black tea. As for the chocolate, where there is François Payard, there will be chocolate.
This summer chef Payard returns to the Upper East (1330 Third Avenue) to open a venue reminiscent of the once beloved Payard Patisserie. That means that my Payard Blend tin hopefully will be filled soon. In the meantime, we’ll eat macarons, dream in chocolate, and drink tea.