A true story from a TMC winner
Now Florian is a world famous tea person who started his own tea shop in Lyon in September 2020. Well, this sentence should stand the last one in our true story about Florian, the gold winner in tea pairing in national TMC 2018 in France and bronze winner in tea pairing in international tmc 2018 in Vietnam. There will be several beginnings of the story but no matter which path we choose to follow – all of them will lead us to tea. Step by step we will follow his exciting tea path which has a lot of stories to tell and a lot of touching turns and twists. Also it is one of the success stories of TMC participants.
Love and tea story (touching)
“It was love at first sight,” – he says.
Florian met his future wife Sophie in 2014 in Paris. They both worked in a tea shop, though he worked in Paris and she in Lyon. Early December Sophie entered the tea shop where he worked, searching for hodzi cha. They talked for two hours about tea. But relationship had to wait for a year. They kept communicating about tea while living in different cities and believing that relationship is impossible because of a distance. They found out that they both were born almost the same day and naturally had many things in common. Sophie quite often came to Paris on the way to far away countries where she bought tea for her company. They met and talked, nothing more. And once she booked a seat at his tea tasting session without telling him a word. That was the evening when they confessed to each other and decided to be together. For a while they visited each other once a month but then Sophie left her job and went to Paris to be with Florian without burning the bridges with Lyon, hoping to go back there one day. After Florian TMC victory in France and in Vietnam in 2018 they decided to open a tea shop in Lyon and moved there in 2019. In September 2020 their tea shop in Lyon opened its doors to the guests!
“You know, we always talk with my wife about tea, all day long and it is so great!!” says Florian with the happiest smile on his face.
Tea and tmc story (inspiring)
When Florian was young he was keen on practicing judo. Once when he was 6, his master invited some Japanese judo masters to France and they shared not only judo but also matcha drinking tradition. And that was smth unforgettable for a little boy – both the taste and the attention given to the process. At that time it was impossible to buy good Japanese tea in France as people didn’t travel much. It was his first intense experience of good tea which was more than just drinking tea.
“You know similar is with food – you eat and travel back in memories, and when I drink matcha – I go back to my 6 years and sensations of Japanese masters.”
All his family are tea drinkers and have always been. So it was natural when he agreed to his sister’s advice to apply for a job of a tea consultant. Even though he was a musician at that time he thought “why not”. The job interview was very special as during it he talked with his future boss only about jazz and music, not a word about tea. “At the end of the interview I asked him why nothing was said about tea if it was supposed to be a tea job. And he answered that he was looking for passionate people. And those who have passion for smth in life, for example music, can be passionate about other things.”
So Florian started developing his passion for tea. For 5 years he was experimenting a lot with tea pairings. And this world of taste ad tea absorbed him. He was combining tea and wine, experimenting, trying to find special combinations. And one day Lauren Pascault met him, tried his pairing and said he should take part in TMC France. And he did. And won.
Teashop story (developping)
“In TMC I met so many people passionate about tea”, – shares Florian his impression about TMC community.
Victory in tea pairing at TMC in France was really unexpected for Florian. When he came back from international TMC in Vietnam his boss suggested him opening his own shop. “Now it is time for you to open your own shop as you are a winner. I can help you with buying tea.” They were friends and Florian listened to his advice. Some time later he decided to leave Paris and move to Lyon with his wife to open their tea shop. Why Lyon? you may ask.
Opening a shop in Lyon in 2020 means you have to deal with many pandemia restrictions, architectual restrictions of the city that doesn’t allow you to change a single nail in your window without permission and of course there are many competitors – other tea shops. But the good side is also there. Lyon is very famous in France as a place where people come to learn things about taste and cooking. In Paris it is difficult to talk with a chef but in Lyon it is easy to meet a good chef or a chocolate makers. “If you meet them you can talk about tea paring and they become very interested and invite you to come and try for the whole day”, – says Florian. Passion, again passion but for taste and wine. Great city to develop tea pairings with a lot of chefs. That is why Florian opened a shop with his wife there – with a very ambitious dream – explore tea pairings with chefs. It s very unique and not common.
All his family now works in the shop, even his 13 year old daughter helps to sell good Japanese teas and she is crazy about them. “I always say to myself that I can’t leave job as then she can’t afford these teas,” – smiles Florian.
TMC gave him a lot of meetings with great tea experts and good tea connections. He still keeps and develops them by trying to import teas from different countries. For a small buyer it is a hard thing to do so he is now trying to make federation of small buyers to import tea from abroad, for example Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea – those that are not very famous at the market.
Now Florian is not just a TMC participant but also an international judge. He made his choice, took next step in his way. But he still tries to take part in some online TMC contests – for example the one that was organised by TMC and supported by Sri Lanka Tea Board. He loves to participate: “Participation for me is being a part of the community”.
Jazz melody (has always been)
So what about music? Music has always been with him. His music friends helped him partly with money for opening his tea shop as well as his uncle who loves teas. When Florian moved to Lyon he had only two friends there but he met much more through playing jazz in clubs and bars. He easily made friends and of course treated them with tea. Pianists, guitarists – they all were drinking teas and knew what good tea is about. What is more they all encouraged Florian with his idea of tea shop.
The melody of tea is developing. Like jazz it is very unpredictable and full of improvisation and passion. For tea.
Aftertaste with a taste
Predicting trends in tastes even in France is a risky thing but Florian believes that oolong teas will gain more popularity. Also Vietnamese and Nepalese teas will be popular in France, as they were very unknown. One of his recommendations is to pair a Vietnamese black tea with some cheese from Nederland, the gouda cheese. He is really into tea pairing and even his dream is about tea pairing.
“I hope that one day I will be known in Lyon to organize tea masters cup in the famous exhibition Sirah with all the French chefs. I’m working on my tea masters class pairings and a little by little I’m trying to meet the best chef or pastry chef.”
And we wish his dream to come true.