14 Tea Trends You Can't Ignore

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Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide, following only water.

Global consumption of iced tea increased 5% in 2016 to 37 billion litres. Iced tea's growth has been well above the soft drinks average over the past five years and is expected to continue this momentum, exceeding 45 billion litres by 2021, according to a report from Zenith Global.

In the USA, ready-to-drink (RTD) tea is having the greatest growth in the overall tea market, growing about 4% and accounting for 45.7% of the tea market share in 2016, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.

North America and Europe, which between them account for 24% of global consumption, have created opportunities for less sweet tastes, with new blends coming to the fore. Reduced sugar content and new tea types, such as matcha have spurred extra interest in the category, as has a move toward natural ingredients.

Treatt’s resident Tea Sommelier and product development specialist Deepthi Ananth commented “I am definitely seeing that more consumers being attracted to newer processing methods like no- heat, high pressure pasteurisation or cold brewing techniques. It marries so well with the rise in demand for natural ingredients and has given brands a real point of differentiation alongside the all-important – flavour, in this increasingly popular market in the US”.

Read on to see how these trends and more make the up the 14 trends we’ll be seeing moving forward.

  1. Cold brew moves to tea- The cold brew form of premiumisation, popularised by the coffee category has seen an expanding interest into tea, with a noticeable increase in new cold tea RTD products hitting the shelves, that is set to continue.
  2. Alternative processes - There is increasing interest in using other alternative processing methods for tea such as high-pressure pasteurisation, no-heat and nitro.
  3. Brew with fizz - With a growing number of brands now bringing beautiful bottles of effervescent sparkling tea-blends to the fore.Sparkling teas are usually low or non-alcoholic, they can be infused with everything from delicate white teas to full-bodied black teas, available ready to drink in both individual and sharing servings.
  4. Rising bubbles - Created in 1980 in Taiwan, bubble tea, also popularly known as Boba Milk Tea has begun to spread across the world. A form of iced tea that has a layer of chewy tapioca balls, is only set to grow in popularity with the market for bubble tea expected to grow by a CAGR of 7.3% during 2017-2023, according to Market Research Future.
  5. Blurred lines - The tea category is blurring with other sectors, complimenting no end of other categories it is particularly popular in those beverages with functional attributes, now appearing in everything from flavoured waters to healthy energy drinks. It is even appearing in spirits with brands favouring both the astringency, wide range of interesting flavours, not to mention the added health connotations.
  6. Vibrant varietals - The RTD tea market currently comprises of a number of varietals including 57.7% black tea, 22.5% green and white tea and 19.8% herbal tea (IBISworld’s April 2017 report – RTD Tea Production in the US). Although not strictly a tea, Guayusa, also known as the ‘Superleaf’, from Ecuador, is also among other leaves now appearing in some RTD products.
  7. Mindful matcha - The matcha market is growing but is yet to reach its full potential, as consumers catch on. Increasingly popular with younger consumers, thanks to its nutritional value (reported high concentrations of potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C), and the mindfulness movement, embracing the ritual involved in preparing a hot cup of matcha. As an RTD there are packaging limitations to overcome since light can alter the properties of this renowned Japanese green tea.
  8. Good-bye sugar - Tea enjoys a healthy positioning, but there are a growing number of low calorie, naturally sweetened and unsweetened options available, and growing, from both artisanal craft producers and larger more familiar brands.
  9. Versatile pairings - Tea is incredibly versatile in the other flavours with which it can be paired, allowing it to flex to stay on trend. Blending opportunities include botanical ingredients, fruits and vegetables and the current surge in the use of spices and the sweet, heat combination.
  10. Tea with benefits – Blending tea with ingredients with supporting functional attributes such as probiotics with Kombucha gaining popularity along with the natural functional benefit of caffeine is gaining momentum. Green tea - particularly high in antioxidants, has seen sales benefit from widespread interest in weight loss. With ‘beauty’ drinks also incorporating tea into formulations; already familiar to consumers for its use in topical beauty products. According to Innova over 62% of global iced tea launches in 2015 made at least one health claim of some kind, rising to over 88% in the US.
  11. A fresh look at packaging - Brands are differentiating on shelf with standout packaging, for both aesthetic and practical appeal, with considerations being made to the grip-ability of the bottle amongst other factors for improved customer drinking experience.
  12. The rise of RTD - The ready-to-drink (RTD) tea category is worth $4.5 billion a year globally and growing. In 2015, consumption amounted to 35 billion litres – forecast to rise to 44 billion litres by 2020 – with around 15% of that opportunity accounted for by the North American market, according to FoodBev.com.
  13. Make space in the chillers - RTD cater to the ‘ready to go’ lifestyle of the modern consumer. Sales in the refrigerated tea category in the US have shot up 9.2% in the last year, reaching just over $1bn according to IRI (52 weeks ending Oct 2, 2016).
  14. Back to nature – Mintel has reported that natural and organic status is very important to tea consumers; however currently all-natural is significantly more preferred than organic.

Discover how we can help you stay present in your formulations, as these tea trends develop, right here.