Voulez-vous du the’? Or would you like a cup of tea in France? Ask anyone in the area of tea expertise: what is making current tea news? The answer may surprise you. From the hustle and bustle of hurried cafés in Paris to the quite still of a French countryside farm one might hear the whistle of a teapot!
Yes France is noted for their coffee, however, there is a major change coming. It appears that the middle class may be the driving force behind the change. The current view of a city streetscape may show signs and awnings announcing the newest tea salon or specialty tea store.
According to many sources, France is in a transition where its people are exploring and learning about tea just as they once did with wine. Some are claiming that this shift to tea drinking is nothing short of a revolution. While I wouldn’t go that far, businesses in France are just like businesses in the United States, they need to change with the time to stay viable and give their customers what they want.
Businesses are spreading advertisements about tea classes, tea tasting, and tea serving. But will it mimic the British? There are many brands of tea and tea businesses that have quietly been operating in places like Paris for a very long time but are currently seeing a surge in the growth of their tea businesses.
Many restaurants and cafés are also seeing an upsurge in diners asking for tea as well. It used to be a wine & cheese staple in many but now one may see vintage tea & cheese! The French, while tea has been there since the mid sixteenth century, see tea as something new.
Tea has been in France since the Dutch brought it in the mid to later 1600’s. It was, as it was in most other countries during this time period, very expensive. It was nearly only associated with the wealthy. One such wealthy Frenchman was Cardinal Jules Mazarin; a diplomat who suffered from painful gout. It is said that much of Europe suffered many of the same type diseases due to the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables and that gout was quite rampant everywhere. During the late 16th Century Louis XIV also suffered from what is believed to be gout and then both men began to drink tea. Eventually, the tea medicine became a drink that both enjoyed drinking every day.
Around the 17th Century an aristocrat named Madame de Sevigne shared much knowledge of tea. She was a famed letter writer who shared the vivid French life during the time of Louis XIV. It is said that she mentioned in one famed letter to her daughter that the French were the first to put cream (milk) in their tea. She also mentioned that Monsieur de Landgrave drank well over 40 cups of tea every morning!
In the year 1796 Napoleon wrote to his Josephine “Not one cup of tea have I taken without cursing the glory and ambition that keeps me away from the soul of my life”. So as history went on many historic brands have shone themselves to be around from the early 1800’s.
One may very well travel to France and take in the historical structures as well French gourmet patisserie and the’ salon. Luxe and vintage teas and tea blends along with cheese and sweet dessert will have one saying: Je voudrais de the’ s’il vous plaint! (More tea please)!