Tea World

Lesson 31

French Tea Traditions

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France has a very similar history and affection for tea as England. Tea was introduced around the same time and was indulged in primarily by the aristocratic class, before eventually being taken up by the rest of the population. Tea was first introduced as a medicine, although French doctors were quick to denounce it as having any medical worth, even citing the amount of caffeine as a potential health threat. To this day many French families do not allow their children to drink tea, because of its caffeine content. And many adults even prefer naturally caffeine-free herbal tisanes like chamomile and verbena, or verveine.

However, true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant has taken a strong foothold, and many salons de thé can be found, not just in Paris, but in cities throughout the country. A salon de thé is a slightly more quiet and serene place for relaxation in the busy cities; certainly more so than the crowded cafes. The atmosphere in a French salon de thé is slightly more formal than the English tea room. The porcelain teapots are sophisticated and the place settings elegant, while attention to the highest quality of tea is of the utmost importance. The French will usually indulge in exquisite pastries, like tarts and petit fours with their tea, a tradition that has carried over to many afternoon teas served outside of the country.

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