As millennials increasingly ditch the traditional cuppa in favour of alternatives such as wellness, fruit and flavoured varieties, a seismic shift is occurring in the landscape of the nation’s favourite drink. Notwithstanding these changes, it is estimated that 165 million cups of ‘standard’ tea are consumed in the UK every day by more than 51 million tea drinkers who would be hard pushed to change their established brew for anything else. Indeed, black tea remains a staple brew out of home, amounting to 81.9% of category value share, with 75% of consumers choosing to drink the traditional blend in foodservice environments, according to the Tetley Tea Report 2018.
For a while now it has been suggested that the nation was turning its back on tea in favour of coffee, which has undoubtedly soared in popularity in recent years, but a new report commissioned by National Tea Day delves into the tea industry and concludes that, while the market is indeed changing, the future remains bright for this particular beverage.
“The report indicates that a major shift has occurred, largely driven by younger generations who are less tempted by the traditional ‘builders brew’ and looking to alternative teas for more diversity in flavour, a sensory experience and added health benefits,” says Marco Geraghty, National Tea Day Founder, whose eponymous day falls on 21 April each year.
Change driven by millennials
37% of Brits aged 25-34 have drunk 5-6 different types of tea at home or in the workplace over the past month, compared to just 3% of those aged 55+.
Ricky Flax, general manager, the Italian Beverage Company, agrees: “Although there is no doubt that tea will always be part of the identity and culture of the UK, consumer tastes are changing. What’s fuelling the growth in the market isn’t the standard black tea, it’s the growing trend for enjoying speciality fruit and herbal teas among the young, health-conscious consumers. While sales of these speciality teas have increased 50% over the last five years, the sale of standard black tea has dropped 13%.”
Tetley responds to wellness trend
“Health is the fastest growing consumer need, +5% vs. 2016 and +9% vs. 2014, and consumers are becoming increasingly focused on their overall health and well-being, seeking out products that support better-for-you lifestyles and deliver tangible health benefits,” says Marshall Kingston, Tetley Senior Brand Manager – Out of Home.
With this in mind, Tetley recently launched its new Super Tea Envelope range, now available for the first time in foodservice. “The range offers fresh and exciting new blends that are infused with essential vitamins while delivering added nutritional benefits, from reducing tiredness to supporting healthy immune systems,” explains Kingston.
Matcha and Green Teas are in the ascendant.
Combined, these two variants accumulate 21% of favourite non-black blends out of home.
Twinings led by sugar-free requirements
“Changing attitudes of consumers has led to a total re-vamp of the British tea market,” acknowledges Jacqui Chapman, Shopper Marketing Manager,Twinings Foodservice. “Many consumers are turning to fruity teas and infusions as a healthier way to satisfy their sweet tooth. As trends such as health and wellness, sugar free and all natural pervade lifestyles, it’s only natural that this extends into the beverage market.”
Reflecting the changing face of the tea market, Twinings Cold In’fuse is a fruity cold brew product that has been specifically created to infuse in still or sparkling cold water.
“Our research indicates that 73% of adult consumers would like to see a larger range of sugar-free options offered across the out of home market – this in itself was a key insight that contributed to the development of the new range,” continues Chapman.
“Adding a few Cold In’fuse bags into cold water Kilner jars or carafes garnished with fresh fruit and herbs creates a whole new menu of delicious tea-based drinks.”
Come in kombucha
“Placed within the wider tea category, kombucha is the emerging drink, and a must stock for caterers,” insists Gina Geoghegan, Founder, Wild Fizz Kombucha whose range comprises four flavours: Lavender, Rosemary & Lemon; Ginger, Turmeric & Black Pepper; Fragrant Jasmine Pearl Tea; and Blood Orange, Grapefruit & Lime.
So what exactly is kombucha and why is it so good for you?
“Kombucha is a natural sparkling soft drink made by fermented black or green tea,” explains Geoghegan. “It is made by adding a colony of bacteria and yeast – called SCOBY, an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast – to sweet tea and allowing it to ferment over time.
“The kombucha category is expected to grow 25% YoY to reach a global value of $1.8bn by 2020, sector growth that is being driven by consumer desire to tap into healthier drinks that offer both functional benefits and support them in maintaining better-for-you lifestyles. In the UK, Kombucha is a relatively new category, however, within other territories – especially the US, Australasia and Europe – Kombucha is already mainstream.”
Taking the changing face of tea one step further
Noveltea - by name and nature - has launched a cold-brewed infusion of Chinese Oolong Tea with Scotch Whisky. The boozy brew infuses Chinese Oolong tea with red rose petals, papaya, mango flakes and Scotch whisky, which are served either hot, cold or as a key cocktail ingredient. The latest offer joins the company’s other alcoholic teas: The Tale of Earl Grey (an infusion of black Earl Grey tea with British gin and botanicals) and The Tale of Tangier (an infusion of Moroccan green mint tea with spearmint, dried lemongrass, dried apple, blackberry leaves and Caribbean white rum).
The value of tea
The value of tea within the UK foodservice market is increasing, with an impressive growth of 13.6% between 2015 and 2017 Source: OnBuy.com
Cold brew teas
“Cold brew teas, tea cocktails and floral teas are recent innovations in the industry that add value to the tea market and can broaden the appeal of a comprehensive tea menu,” says Ricky Flax, general manager, Italian Beverage Company. “IBC offers Simply Iced Teas in flavour combinations including jasmine and lime, peach, passionfruit and lemon, which are current and particularly on trend.”
While the traditional cup of tea remains a key stakeholder in the tea category, today’s health-conscious consumers are demanding more and creating a much broader canvas. This year, alternative flavours such as ginger, matcha, turmeric and cumin are predicted to continue to grow in popularity, while health and wellness teas – such as Tetley’s new vitaminenriched Super range – are also significantly on the rise.
“Now that consumers are becoming exploratory in their tea choices, it is important that staff have the knowledge and confidence to advise the ways in which certain teas can be taken, and the variety of blends on offer,” advises Marshall Kingston, Tetley Senior Brand Manager – Out of Home. “Customers respond well when serving staff are wellinformed and passionate about the products they are selling.
“In the future, tea sommeliers are expected to play a huge part with consumers hungry for the theatre that comes with the tea ritual. By creating a theatre of serve, consumers are more likely to dwell for longer in their surroundings, therefore providing further sales opportunities.”