French Blend Tea (ETS image)

French Blend Tea (ETS image)

Unless I missed a memo at some point I’m pretty sure that when it comes to beverages the French are not known for tea, but for one thing – wine. The French language has even given us the term for a wine expert – sommelier. It’s a term that’s gradually being adopted by the tea industry. Here a few of the articles from this site about the relatively new profession of tea sommelier.

As for France, well, there are those who would suggest that it’s not just about wine anymore. Among them, the BBC, who recently featured an article that tells all about France’s Silent Tea Revolution. It starts by pointing out what should probably be obvious. That for the tea-obsessed Brits – or anyone else – trying to get a decent cup of tea in France used to be an exercise in futility. Which is a criticism that the British often make about us Yanks. But for purposes of this article that’s beside the point.

As the title of the article suggests, the tea situation in France is starting to change (as it is here in the good old US of A). It goes on to note that in addition to the fruit of the vine, France is also “a country supposedly devoted to the cult of coffee.” Which came as news to me. However, that’s all changing now and apparently “French blends are the toast of tea cognoscenti from Nanjing to New York.” Which also came as news to me.

The article discusses several popular French tea brands and retailers who are seeing substantial sales increases. It’s strongly implied that in France there’s become something approaching a mania for tea, as in “a sudden fashion for tea has swept the middle classes.” This is manifesting itself in the form of specialty tea salons, classes on tasting and serving tea, and a tea selection that’s said to number into the hundreds of varieties. Once again, this sounds like a certain other country that has not been known for its tea culture, but perhaps I’m belaboring the point.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember, if you’re a fan of English style tea, is that tea in France is done a little differently. The French are said to favor tea that is “altogether more refined and delicate” and are said to favor quality over quantity. From there it’s on to an discussion of tea in France with some of the industry’s players and some background on the history of tea in France – what there is of it. It’s an interesting and rather in-depth article and it’s certainly worth a look. Check it out here.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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