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France targets surprise market for its tea as it rediscovers its passion for a cuppa

French tea farmers believe the sky’s the limit, as they target new markets for their products.

And it appears they have spotted a perfect opportunity in post-Brexit Britain, as they gear up for a charm offensive to persuade their Anglo-Saxon neighbours of the merits of their delicious brew.

Britain is still predominately a nation of tea drinkers, according to statistics.

Around one hundred million cups of tea are drunk every day, which is almost 36 billion per year.

This means it is still more popular than coffee, with roughly 70 million cups consumed per day.

This makes Britain the second largest per capita tea-drinking nation in the world, after the Republic of Ireland.

As such it is a hugely attractive market to tea growers from all around the globe, including France.

While better known for its fine wines and cheeses, France is currently experiencing a renaissance of tea farming.

A growing number of farmers have set up plantations in southern France and Brittany, in the northwest.

One of them is Jean-Marc Sanchez, who started cultivating tea in greenhouses four years ago at his plantation near Perpignan.

Last year he harvested 50kg at his Les Plantations d’Acapella and expects to increase that by six-fold this year.

The ambitious farmer is looking for new markets for his product, after declining to export his tea to China and Japan due to prohibitive transport costs. However, he has high hopes to sell his tea to the UK, where he believes his product will find the perfect home.

He said: “I would definitely be interested in supplying tea to the UK, with its historic love of tea.

“It’s only a couple of hours’ flight from Toulouse and I’m planning to increase production to one or two tonnes a year in the future.”

He currently sells his black, green and white teas to high-end shops and restaurants in Toulouse and other southern French cities.

He also sells directly to clients via the internet, with a 50g packet retailing for €24 (£20) – expensive by today’s prices.


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