The eternally popular beverage gets some updates.
Deemed the most-consumed beverage on earth, tea remains popular worldwide while continuing to evolve. Its millennia-long history originated in China, where it is still regularly imbibed in both formal and informal settings today. The beverage is also commonly drunk in other Asian nations, on the continents of Europe and Africa, and in the United Kingdom and throughout North America, and seems to get “rediscovered” with fresh enthusiasm by each successive generation here in the United States.
Available in green, black, herbal, and botanical varieties, with and without flavorings and other additives, tea as a category is quite extensive and comprehensive. A recent Comax Flavors (Melville, NY) poll of more than 1,000 U.S. respondents aged 18 to 70 collected data on their tea-drinking habits and preferences and drew some valuable conclusions, helping tea makers and marketers focus on tea types and attributes that are currently most important to tea drinkers.
Among all age groups, the poll showed, the taste of a tea was the number-one driving force for tea purchase, followed by flavor and price. Brand and health benefits were the fourth and fifth purchase drivers, respectively. Among those who use tea bags, green tea was the top flavor across all generations, with 44% of respondents choosing it as their preference (19% for green-tea combinations), while 27% of respondents reported regularly drinking plain black tea. Citrus, including lemon, orange, and lemon and orange combinations, is “a common direction consumed by respondents,” Comax found.
For users of herbal tea bags, chamomile (and chamomile combinations) and mint (and mint combinations) are the most popular flavor varieties.
In ready-to-drink teas, Comax reports, lemon flavor reigns supreme, with a full 48% of all respondents reporting they consume it. “Sweet tea” is the second most-popular flavor of this type of product, followed by green tea and “green-tea combination” flavors. “Respondents are slowly discovering matcha and matcha combinations” in ready-to-drink teas, the study found.
Tea makers and manufacturers are building on these behaviors, combining popular tea varieties and flavors with such wellness trends as mindfulness, “clean” functional beverages, and improved sleep. The following are examples.
Photo from Teatulia
Teas for Morning Energy and Nighttime Calm
Lemon Lily’s “Ritual: Up” and “Ritual: Down” organic, loose-leaf teas are new offerings marketed in collaboration with Toronto-based fitness and wellness guru David Newton.
“My teas are intended to support new holistic habits and healthful rituals, while replacing artificial energy enhancers and relaxers with something entirely natural, organic, fairly-traded, and of course, effective,” Newton tells Nutritional Outlook. “Ritual: Up will gently stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, offering an even and healthy energy boost. Its ingredients are certified by Ecocert Canada, and include organic green tea, organic elderberries, organic cherries, organic golden berries, and organic chaga-all chosen for their function and flavor blend, but the chaga is a local super mushroom with powerful qualities, which adds a great depth and power to the blend,” he says.
Ritual: Down, on the other hand, will “gently stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, offering healthy clearing and calm, which we all need, and can be enjoyed all day, not just at bedtime. Its ingredients are also certified by Ecocert Canada and include organic lemongrass, organic chamomile, organic peppermint, organic nettle, organic dandelion leaf, and organic butterfly pea flower,” Newton explains.
Representing Lemon Lily, Lisa Borden, of Borden Communications + Design, adds that “functional teas that taste great and look great (and are Instagram-worthy!) are on trend. We find that more people tell us that they have at least six different teas in the kitchen at any time and love adding to their collections. Butterfly Pea, in David Newton’s Ritual: Down is one of our bestsellers, and chaga mushroom is getting a lot of attention. Most importantly, people are becoming aware that teas should be pesticide free, and it’s worth steeping a cup of loose leaf to avoid toxic tea bags. Tea accessories for loose leaf are getting lots of attention, too.”
Photo from Lemon Lily
Teas Featuring CBD
Representing Buddha Teas, company founder John Boyd says of Buddha Teas’ recently launched CBD line, “Though it took more than five years to research and develop, we launched our CBD line of teas, which includes four of our bestselling teas, in early 2018. We knew that using a CBD oil wouldn’t cut it for a Buddha Teas-quality product, because oil does not dissolve in hot water.”
Buddha Teas instead uses a water-soluble CBD ingredient in its CBD line, which dissolves fully in hot water, Boyd says. Finding and sourcing that water-soluble CBD component was “difficult,” Boyd adds, “but the product we ended up feeling confident and proud to use resulted from a proprietary procedure, and we’re very pleased with the outcome.”
When the brand was choosing additional ingredients and formulating the CBD line of teas, Boyd says it “looked at the health benefits of CBD and combined it with herbs that offer similar benefits. For example, CBD is helpful for those suffering anxiety, and chamomile also helps calm the system, so we created a CBD Chamomile Blend. We also took into consideration our existing customers, and wanted to provide teas [in varieties that] we knew were bestsellers,” he adds. He says upcoming additions to the line will include a mushroom blend for immunity and a tulsi blend for stress relief.
Photo from Buddha Teas
As Americans in particular try to wean themselves from sugary carbonated fountain drinks, Denver-based Teatulia is paying attention, having recently launched Tea Soda. The ready-to-drink products feature real brewed tea, fruit, herbs, and “just the right amount of sparkle” from carbonation, the brand reports. The organic and ethically sourced effervescent drinks were originally introduced at Teatulia’s Denver-based Tea Bar “and have been bestsellers from the start,” the company says in its literature.
“The overwhelmingly positive reactions we got at Tea Bar told us we were onto something big with Tea Soda,” said Linda Appel Lipsius, CEO and cofounder of Teatulia, via press release. “Lightly sweetened with cane sugar, Tea Sodas deliver pure refreshment and are a great alternative to natural soda, sparkling water, and even energy drinks. We chose cans because they are infinitely recyclable and in line with the commitment to minimal waste packaging we’ve always had with our hot teas. Tea Sodas are spot-on trend with what today’s consumer is looking for.”
Photo from Teatulia
Well-known tea brand Numi just recently launched its Daily Super Shots, which are marketed as natural, wellness-focused alternatives to the sugar- and caffeine-laden, one-swig energy beverages readily available in convenience stores and grocery stores nationwide.
“In a category that lacks natural offerings,” Numi’s press announcement reads, “Numi’s clean-label shots feature proven and potent organic teas, herbs, fruits, roots, and spices blended to maximize both flavor and function.” One of the shots includes matcha in its formulation; others feature herbal infusions, such as rooibos and fennel. One is formulated with lion’s mane mushroom and reishi mushroom. The shots are sold in refrigerated cases in retail locations.
Photo from Numi