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French farmers want to export their tea to Britain after rediscovering their love for a cuppa.

France discovered tea during the reign of Louis XIII in the 17th century, with some people even smoking it in pipes.

Others added it to salads and some even applied it as a skin ointment.

As the centuries passed however, tea became less popular, with attempts to grow it largely unsuccessful.

In recent years however there has been a resurgence, with plantations being established in southern France and in the northwest.

Jean-Marc Sanchez harvested 50kg last year at Les Plantations d’Acapella, near Perpignan, France’s southernmost city and expects to produce up to six times that this year, with 300kg.

He said: "The greenhouses shelter the tea plants from the wind, which tends to dry them out and we’ve got solar panels over them to provide shade.

“Tea plants like warmth but not too much direct sun and we’re only 3km from the Mediterranean.”

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Sanchez supplies his black, green and white tears to high end shops and restaurants across southern France, as well as selling it online.

He added that his tea has even won medals at international tastings in Japan and China.

Sanchez said he has been asked to supply tea to China and Japan, but declined as the transport costs would be too much and he does not produce large enough quantities yet to make it worthwhile.

He added: "However, 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.”

Fellow French tea seller, Mariage Frères, has gone a step further and opened a store in London.

The Mariage Frères Tea House is located in Covent Garden and prides itself on selecting gourmet blends from Asia and Africa.

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