France’s future: Quality tea today, quality kombucha tomorrow?

While France is stereotypically the land of black coffee and Gitaines, there are early indications tastes are changing.

On a recent visit to La Rochelle, I was delighted to discover not one, but two shops selling premium teas. The French appreciate that it takes the best grapes to make the best wine. Just so, the better brands of kombucha are fermented from premium teas.

Worldwide, a growing number of brands specialize in unflavored (OG) ‘booch for clients who enjoy the finer things in life. Indeed, my home brew improved dramatically when I switched from Lipton tea bags to first flush Darjeeling.

So the French, lovers of fine wines and 246 different kinds of fermented cheese (making them, according to de Gaulle, a challenge to govern), should be a natural market for premium kombucha.

The mystery is that there’s a serious lack of availability of kombucha in the Atlantic ports of France.

There are, however, shops selling quality teas. Here’s two I discovered.

Infini thé

This small shop and cafe is situated under the arches in the Old Town at 27 Rue Dupaty. The cafe serves a vast range of carefully curated quality teas at a reasonable price. I enjoyed a Japanese Genmaicha served in a metal teapot with a timer set for the recommended three-minute infusion. Along with a small plate of petite madeleine’s it was the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. (However, unlike Proust, I didn’t remember anything past.)

The menu is worth reading for descriptions, information on recommended water temperature, and length of infusion,

Palais des Thés

The palace of teas is located at 42 bis Rue des Merciers. The chain is headquartered in Paris and has branches throughout France. They sell almost 250 varieties of flavored teas, original teas, infusions, and an expert selection of rare leaves from the most beautiful tea gardens in the world. For example, their Pu Erh Shu Yi Ji is described as “A Grand Cru with woody, humus and fruity notes that mingle with a sweet and umami flavor.”

Savvy kombucha brands should consider marketing their fermented teas to the customers of these shops.

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