Small dried tea leaves are popular with the French. Green, black and white teas are becoming more popular in France, with consumption having tripled in the space of 25 years. The United Nations General Assembly even created an “International Tea Day” this May 21 in order to “encourage the implementation of collective actions and measures favorable to the sustainable production and consumption of tea”. “The 15,000 tonnes of leaves imported per year now place France as the 30th largest consumer of tea in the world,” underlines Thés de la Pagode, which now estimates “that one in three French people drinks it”.

For François-Xavier Delmas, tea researcher and founder of Palais des thés, French consumers are “catching up” on their European neighbors: “The English consume three kilograms of tea per year, compared to 250 grams in France.” Women are those who consume the most, “57% of them,” explains Marie-Charlotte Familiadès, president of Thés de la Pagode. Their focus is mainly on green teas and “health and well-being teas”, up 30% year-on-year for Thés de la Pagode.

The periods of confinement linked to Covid-19 have also allowed the growth of the tea market. “Amateurs consumed twice as much during this period and we realized that they hardly drank it at the office,” explains François-Xavier Delmas. An observation shared by Marie-Charlotte Familiadès, who emphasizes that “91% of tea is drunk at home”. To export consumption outside of homes, new trends have emerged in recent months and are even making their way to Parisian palaces.

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“We notice it everywhere, there is a trend towards the consumption of non-alcoholic drinks. The hotel and catering sector has launched “after-tea” moments to consume it at the end of the day,” mentions Erika Le Noan, president of Dammann Frères, which mainly supplies professionals. “Tea also becomes an ingredient for preparing cocktails and even finds its way into the kitchens of great chefs,” she adds. Some addresses even offer “food and tea” pairings, replacing the traditional wine at the table.

Other fashions are also emerging, like tea “lattes”, as Erika Le Noan points out: “It’s very new at the moment, with matcha lattes, which appeal to the younger generation.” The latter is also fond of “bubble tea” from Taiwan. These are cold tea-based drinks, usually garnished with tapioca pearls. Although the president of Dammann Frère welcomes variations of tea drinks, she nevertheless calls on consumers to remain vigilant about the quality of tea leaves.

“Most of the leaves are not washed, so it is important to choose organic,” explains Marie-Charlotte Familiadès. The organic tea market still has room for growth, since it only represents 21% of consumption in France. To ensure the quality of their products, brands carry out numerous tests in their laboratories. “It represents a colossal budget, several hundred thousand euros each year,” insists François-Xavier Delmas. The price to pay to maintain the antioxidant properties of tea.