Specialized Teas: A Rising Trend
If you work in the food industry and you don’t want to miss out on of one the hottest trends in the food-and-beverage market, it’s time to learn the latest about tea. According to reports from World Tea News and market research firm Technomic, the beverage landscape has changed, with tea emerging as the most widely consumed beverage globally next to water.
History of Tea
Did you know that tea is said to have been discovered by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung in 2737 BC, rendering it almost 5,000 years old? According to this legend, the first tea brew was created when tea leaves by chance flew into the Emperor’s pot of boiling water. A botanical explorer, he subsequently used his new discovery to cure himself from poison 85 times.
During the 1600’s, tea’s popularity reached Europe and the American colonies, while the famous 1773 Boston Tea Party, when American colonists threw 300 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the British government’s taxation of tea, further put the beverage on the map. And if you ever wondered when afternoon ‘tea time’ or ‘high tea’ began, look no further than 1840 and Anna the Duchess of Bedford, who began drinking tea at 4 p.m. with a light snack to prevent a “sinking feeling.”
But it was the United States that first popularized iced tea in 1904 and invented the modern-day tea bag. Today, the U.S. dominates the world market in the consumption and sale of ready-to-drink forms of tea in convenient bottles.
2018 Tea Market Projections
Tea trends for 2018 show the following:
- Ready-to-Drink is the fastest-growing segment in tea, accounting for 46% of tea volume; this is followed by tea bags, accounting for 44%, with sales of loose-leaf tea growing in volume and value
- Purchases of high-end specialty teas, natural teas, and wellness teas are on the rise, while sales of fruit drinks and regular and diet soda continue to decline
- Millennials are the largest group of consumers choosing tea
- Tea can be found in close to 80% of U.S. households, with Americans consuming more than 4 billion gallons of tea annually
- Market share trends project solid growth for tea sales in the years ahead
The Changing Face of Tea
It is safe to say that ‘tea time’ is experiencing a modern-day revolution! Gone are the yesteryears when drinking a hot cup of tea was relegated to home consumption, when tea was viewed as a bitter, unappealing remedy for feeling sick, and when tea was anything but cool. The Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc. now reports that away-from-home tea consumption is increasing close to 10% annually with specialty teas enjoying the limelight. In 2017, for example, specialty iced tea took 4th place on the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) What’s Hot Culinary Forecast list of leading non-alcoholic beverages.
Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Tea
Moreover, the sale of innovative tea flavors with signature tastes has become a point of differentiation among restaurants. Food establishments across the board are investing in specialty tea suppliers, adding premium tea choices to their menus, and even funding research to locate far-out teas from around the world which stand out in taste, in quality, and in factors consumers are increasingly interested in such as where the tea was grown, the type of soil and climate involved, and the number of steps the tea manufacturing process went through. The current rule of thumb in the brewed beverages industry seems to be: ‘The more specialized, the better.
Industry Giants Hop Aboard the Tea Train
Hopping aboard the trending tea train are not only industry giants such as Argo Tea, Teavana, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Starbucks, but also local fast-food chains and delis such as Burger King, Smashburger, and McAlister’s Deli, which has created a Tea Bar in some of its locations.
This follows on the footsteps of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain, which boasts full-fledged tea bars and menu choices that include iced tea lattes, tea cappuccinos, unique tea blends, as well as teas from around the world. In fact, in its quest for tea perfection, the company’s Director of Tea David DeCandia, works with family-owned tea estates in Sri Lanka, Japan, China, and Thailand to cultivate the best tea leaves, which are then hand-blended locally to guarantee freshness.
The Health Benefits of Tea
Health-oriented consumers are another reason for the successful rise of tea, says Gary Hemphill, Managing Director of Research at the Beverage Marketing Corp. The publicized health benefits of green tea helped drive its original popularity, while tea in general is known an all-natural, no-fat, no-sugar, non-carbonated beverage that is essentially calorie-free.
Scores of scientific studies indicate that tea has significant positive effects on diverse areas of health, yielding some very interesting results:
- Drinking tea is good for your heart, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, lowers Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, and improves circulation: Journal of the American Medical Association and Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
- White, green, black, and oolong teas significantly help reduce the risk of a variety of cancer types
- Tea has been identified as a modifiable factor in reducing the risk and slowing down the progression of age-related neurological diseases and memory declines such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia
- Studies indicate that consumption of black and green tea may aid in the management of long-term diabetes
- Tea consumption has been linked to more successful weight loss and maintenance
- Drinking tea has been shown to increase bone mineral density (BMD) and improve muscle mass, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and fracture
Finally, tea is a highly affordable and environmentally friendly product from a renewable source, another reason for why market trends show natural tea sales up over 6%.
World Tea Expo 2019
If you work in the food industry and want to remain on the cutting-edge of the beverage business, consider registering for the World Tea Expo 2019 and even securing an exhibition space for the event. The B2B tradeshow will take place June 11-13, 2019, in Las Vegas and focuses on advancing the tea business, offering in-depth education and skill-building workshops, tea samplings from around the world, and best new products. It is a great opportunity for you to network, sell, and promote.
Finally, you can also foray into the world of tea by attending the UK’s annual 3-day Tea & Coffee World Cup trade show which features industrial equipment and supplies or attend numerous tea and coffee fairs around the world.
Teas of Tomorrow: Specialty Tea Innovations
It was in 2013 that a Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) 50 special report deemed Argo tea a “breakout brand” and that Starbucks Corp. famously acquired the Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings Inc. to the tune of $620 million. At the time, Starbucks President of Channel Development and Emerging Brands Jeff Hansberry promised to “reinvent the way the world enjoys tea.”
Only five years later, that promise rings true with the stupendous rise of specialty teas and premium tea varieties, culminating in 2018 with some of the most innovative and new-fangled tea blends and brews the world has yet to see. Here is but a small sample from the multitude of tantalizing tea tastes you can look forward to:
- Piña Colada Tea
- Mint Tea
- Apple Cider Tea
- Chocolate Tea
- Jasmine Tea
- Hand-blended artisan teas, i.e. Banana Bee, Paradise Punch, Lemon Verbena
- Pumpkin Spice Tea
- Japanese Green Tea
- Tropical Tea
- Pomegranate Tea
- Cardamon Cinnamon Tea
- Organic Peppermint Bark Tea
- Holiday inspired teas, i.e. Winter Dream, Red Velvet, Peppermint Mocha
You can also visit online tea shops to order loose-leaf teas, custom blends, and a host of tea-related merchandise and accessories for preparing, drinking, and serving tea. Finally, head to David’s Tea or Argo Tea for hands-on consumer education about tea varieties and how to correctly prepare tea.
Riding the Wave of the Tea Industry
In summation, the foodservice market continues to grow with tea at the forefront, becoming a common and even premium feature in all types of food and beverage establishments. If you are looking for ways to create and sustain leverage, build solid growth, and enjoy the benefits of loyal, repeat customers, start riding the wave of the tea industry today.