High quality tea and herbal teas: these plants are not like the others
Teas and herbal teas are increasingly popular on the market. They are recognized as having multiple health benefits. They are a source of relaxation. But to instantly enjoy the benefits of these beverages, it is necessary to turn to the organic and high-end versions.
High-end tea is a unique taste experience, with a multitude of flavors, an incomparable fragrance and, above all, a greater concentration of active ingredients. What is their particularity? Which brands to choose? We tell you more in this file on tea.
Table of Contents
- 1 The different varieties of tea that exist
- 2 How to recognize a premium tea?
- 3 What are the leading tea brands on the market?
- 4 Tea market update
- 5 Tips on how to prepare your premium tea
The different varieties of tea that exist
Tea is a beverage obtained after a certain degree of oxidation of the tea leaves. It is the level of oxidation that determines the colors that we obtain afterwards: green, black, white, red, etc.. The more oxidized the tea is, the darker its color.
The taste (full-bodied or sweet), smell, caffeine content and health benefits of each type of tea are different. Within the same variety, these differences are also observed according to the region, the growing method, the harvesting method and the manufacturing process. Green tea, the most popular tea in the world, is very rich in antioxidants and is not oxidized.
Black tea is richer in caffeine. Totally oxidized, it has a strong flavor similar to coffee. White tea, rarer and more discreet in terms of taste, is subtle, slightly sweet and silky. Oolong tea is a cross between green and black tea. It is closer to one or the other depending on whether it has been more or less oxidized.
To date, smoked tea is only consumed by Westerners. It is simply a black tea that has been dried over a wood fire.
Rooibos is not a tea as such, because it is not made from the leaves of the tea plant. It is an herbal tea whose preparation method and uses are comparable to those of tea.
These products are designed to be plain or flavored to create unique combinations. One of the most popular flavored teas is undoubtedly the black tea with bergamot or Earl Grey. All of these classic teas and herbal teas come in premium versions.
How to recognize a premium tea?
Premium teas are products of very high quality and unbeatable taste. Also called premium teas or prestige teas, they are composed of a blend of first choice leaves. The vast majority of them are flavored to taste. The plants from which they are made are quality plants, cultivated in various regions of France and the world according to organic farming standards.
The production of these luxury teas follows a strict process. Particular care is taken at each step of the process, from picking to packaging, including the selection of premium quality leaves and flavoring. They are 100% natural, without insecticides, chemical fertilizers or other toxic substances. All the ingredients of our premium teas are usually traceable.
Available in both bagged and loose form, you’ll recognize them by their high price, but not only that. The brand and its reputation, as well as the unique characteristics of the tea, such as leaves, smoothness, fragrance and taste, are all important. A single bag of premium tea offers a wide variety of flavors.
If your retailer has loose samples, smell them first. Premium teas are fragrant and flavored. The most expensive teas are not necessarily the best. So don’t focus too much on the price.
What are the leading tea brands on the market?
Tea has not yet become a local drink for the French as it is in Asia, however, they are not far from it. The tea houses in France have developed a unique know-how in tea making and are constantly innovating. This explains the public’s interest in tea in recent years.
Here are seven of the best French brands of tea and herbal teas that you should try.
La compagnie Coloniale
The Compagnie Coloniale tea house is one of the oldest French brands. Created in 1848, it was originally specialized in the import and distribution of chocolates. It then became interested in the tea market towards the end of the 19th century. Since then, it has become a market leader with its unique steam flavoring process.
Thanks to its French know-how, the company offers a wide variety of herbal teas, herbal teas and high quality organic teas. All types of tea are available: green, white, black and oolong. They are either plain or flavored with fruits, spices and citrus fruits, etc. Plants and herbal teas such as rooibos, verbena and linden are also available, plain, mixed together or flavored.
In addition, the brand offers iced teas or great vintages like Ceylon tea. Loose in metal tins or in cloth bags, the quality of their products remains the same. Being eco-responsible, the brand uses recyclable packaging and is committed to causes that are close to its heart.
The Mariage Frères luxury tea house has been around since 1854. It was founded by two brothers: Henri and Édouard Mariage. It has the largest tea list in the world. The company has nearly 650 tea blends of all varieties (white tea, green tea, black tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, rooibos, mate) from 36 producing countries.
The brand is considered today as one of the recognized leaders in prestige teas. It has seven tea houses in Paris, one in England, five in Japan and a large distribution network throughout the world. The original tea house has a small museum that exhibits the history of tea and the art of living associated with it. Some establishments offer workshops dedicated to the discovery and tasting of tea.
Betjeman & Barton
This tea merchant in Paris has been in existence since 1919, with over 250 varieties of premium teas carefully selected by passionate women. Like any high-end tea house, Betjeman & Barton offers new flavors of classic teas, Chinese teas, and world teas (Hawaiian tea, Japanese tea, Brazilian mate…). Scented teas, herbal teas and fruit infusions are also available.
Created in 1994, the tea house Les Jardins de Gaia imports and markets organic and fair trade teas. All products are organically grown, handcrafted and of premium quality. The values transmitted by the founders Arlette and Nicolas remain.
The respect of Man and his environment is at the heart of their mission. In this sense, they actively support the small farmers and have at heart the preservation of nature. The teas, herbal teas and spices of the Gardens are 100% organic.
Almost three quarters of these products are fair trade and only 12% are biodynamic. The structure has a tea house of 4000 m² in Alsace, surrounded by Japanese gardens where a Zen atmosphere prevails. The place is ideal for contemplation and meditation over a cup of tea or herbal tea.
Le Palais des Thés
Founded in 1986 in Paris by a group of friends, Le Palais des Thés specializes in the import and marketing of tea products. Through the committed relationship it cultivates with producers, the company creates a palette of flavors and emotions through tea. The teas presented in the store are selected directly in their country of origin by a dedicated team.
Le Comptoir Français du Thé
Le Comptoir Français du Thé is a reference on the tea market in France. It has existed for more than 30 years now and specializes in natural and especially flavored teas.
The brand takes care and pleasure in offering customers quality products with a unique taste. To do this, it travels to the four corners of the world to find the best teas to compose exceptional flavors. The selection, the production, the flavouring of the teas and even the choice of the producers are done with meticulousness.
Founded in 1867 in St Petersburg by Pavel Michailovitch Kousmichoff, Kumsi Tea arrived on the French tea market in 1917. For a few years now, they have been offering their customers certified organic, natural and responsible teas and infusions that will make you spend exceptional moments. The teas of this brand are often described as daring, fresh and original. Indeed, the products offered are a clever mix of teas from India, Ceylon or China flavored with bergamot, natural essences and citrus fruits.
Tea market update
In 2021, tea is still ranked as the second most consumed beverage after water. Globally, it is still more and more consumed throughout the world. It is experiencing strong growth and success due to innovations and new trends (fragrances, flavors, sensations, design) in the sector, but also because of its health benefits.
The global turnover is more than 200 billion euros. Forecasts estimate that this amount will increase by 20% in 2023. The tea market in France is flourishing and still expanding. This is due to the diversity and quality of the tea varieties offered by the market leaders. With its 15,000 tons of tea imported each year, France meritoriously occupies the thirtieth place of tea consumers in the world.
Competition is very present and 66% of French people are now tea lovers compared to 50% a dozen years ago. Among them, half have a preference for infusions. A retrospective over 25 years shows that tea consumption in France has tripled. About 250 g of tea are consumed per year, that is to say 1.5 billion cups per day.
This allows the French tea industry to experience an increase of + 28% compared to the year 2017. The turnover generated is nearly 500 million euros this year. In 2020, tea-based beverages alone generated a turnover of about 332, 7 million euros, again in France.
Although the sector is dominated by international players, half of the tea consumed in France is manufactured by French brands. The major share of the market is held by the large production leaders such as Unilever with its Lipton and Elephant brands as well as private labels. The latter have a 30% share of the French market.
Behind them are specialized tea networks that are also successful internationally, particularly in Japan (Compagnie Coloniale, Palais des thés, Mariage frères, Betjeman et Barton, etc.) with 20% of sales and annual growth of 10%. New franchises are emerging with new trends: tea + dessert (tapioca) + milk. For the moment, green tea, black tea and fruit teas are still preferred by the French.
Tips on how to prepare your premium tea
Tastes are varied and some people prefer their tea strong while others want it to be as light as possible. In any case, the most important criteria to prepare your tea well do not change: infusion time, quality of the leaves, water temperature. Since the tea is high quality, you don’t have to worry about the quality of the leaves.
The ideal water temperature is 80°C, when the water is simmering. The maximum recommended brewing time is 3 minutes. A little less for teas rich in theine and with a naturally intense taste like black tea. But you are free to go beyond that.