Most people who have a general knowledge of the Middle-East will tell you that the reason that Lebanese people speak French is due to the fact that France had a mandate on Lebanon for a few decades. Wrong.
The reason that France had such an influence on Lebanon was primarily economic. How?
Lebanon had since the times of Justinien (Byzantine emperor, 7th century) been cultivating mulberry trees.
Mulberry trees have leaves; these leaves are the only food that the silkworms would eat; as a result, the silkworms would grow a cocoon which would then be used to make silk.
The economy of Lebanon benefitted greatly from this and enriched many people locally; since France was the major buyer (more than 90% of the local production was sent there), French interests began to develop the infrastructure of the country, setting up water and gas plants, schools and missions and a host of other concerns. In other words, France was our number one trading partner.
What is left of the mulberry trees and silk production? not much.
Today, we enjoy the mulberries as a oh so delicious berry and make mulberry syrup; the mulberry leaves are made into a tea that is way healthier than green tea (without any caffeine). It is an excellent diuretic.
Mulberry tea leaves have 25 times more calcium than milk! Ten times more iron than spinach! More than twice the fiber of green tea! Full of potassium, magnesium and other minerals. It was used in China for medicinal purposes.
Its taste? Mild, almost sweet, faintly herbal.
Mulberry tea is made in Lebanon and in Asian countries; it can be purchased online.