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First Belgian tea hits supermarket shelves

Raf Rombouts. Photo from VILT.

The first tea made in Belgium is now on supermarket shelves in Delhaize and Bio-Planet.

The tea has been cultivated by Raf Rombouts from Loenhout (in the province of Antwerp near the Dutch border) since February, according to the Flemish infocentre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT).

After being harvested, the tea leaves are sent over the border to Zundert in the Netherlands where they’re processed and then marketed under the name Local Tea.

This is the first week that people will be able to find the Belgian tea in Delhaize and Bio-Planet stores.

It’s produced by Dutch company Tea by Me, whose Local Tea label has included tea cultivated in the Netherlands for years.

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They decided to roll out the concept in Belgium earlier this year and turned to Flemish grower Rombouts just over the border, who uses a greenhouse to grow the tea leaves in a six-week growing period.

He also grows amaryllis flowers as his primary business, and saw tea cultivation as a way to buffer risks there.

“Bad prices for the amaryllis during Christmas can break your year,” Rombouts told VILT. “By doing tea production alongside it, I want to reduce these risks somewhat.”

Delhaize signed a contract with LocalTea earlier this year for the supply of Belgian-sourced tea.

VILT says that for the supermarket chain, the Belgian tea represents a further expansion of its local product range, a strategy that is being followed and fuelled by the increasing demand for local products.

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