In the Argelès-Gazost region of the Pyrenees mountains in south-west France, Lucas is something of a missionary. With a degree in agricultural engineering in his pocket, he returned to his family’s land to start growing tea. After spending time with producers in Laos, Indonesia, China and Nepal, this pioneer now oversees a new estate of several thousand plants. He watches over them all attentively, observing how the different cultivars grow, and is already producing delicious teas which he brews in a Chinese gaiwan, allowing the leaves to reveal their full potential. Humble yet strong-willed and confident, Lucas wants to create a model of sustainable European tea cultivation that will set an example in agroecology. Here, he explains this to Sidonie, who is with me to record our podcast: Un Thé, Un Voyage.
There are attempts to grow Camelia sinensis in many countries, including France. On the banks of the Blavet, near Hennebont (Morbihan), Denis and Weizi are pioneers. They planted eight tea bushes 17 years ago, for their own consumption. They now have 30,000 from 15 different cultivars. Their production is still limited (20 kg per year) but is set to double over the next few years. Denis and Weizi’s enthusiasm is inspiring others to grow tea, and in addition to supplying nearly 20,000 tea plants a year to hobby growers, they are supporting them and forming a strong community.