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by Kim Jage

Six Notable Specialty Tea Trends for 2012

Categories: 2012, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

At World Tea Expo, we always strive to stay one step ahead of emerg­ing trends, so we can deliver a rel­e­vant event to par­tic­i­pants that fuels busi­ness growth. Accordingly, we’re pin­point­ing qual­ity tea, growth in tea retail, cold brew green tea, green tea pop­u­lar­ity, Matcha lattes and tea-enhancing wares as six of the key tea trends for 2012.

World Tea Expo, the largest and most promi­nent B2B event for the indus­try, is tak­ing place June 1 – 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and all of these trends will be cov­ered – as well as numer­ous other hot top­ics. At the event, atten­dees can: taste cold-brewed green tea and the lat­est Japanese Matcha lattes; gain cur­rent knowl­edge regard­ing tea retail growth, sup­ply chain trans­parency and FDA reg­u­la­tions; learn how to cap­i­tal­ize on tast­ing trends; and taste for them­selves whether or not the newest tea ware on the mar­ket does in fact enhance the fla­vor of tea.

Trend No. 1. – Quality Tea on the Rise

The tea indus­try is edu­cat­ing tea con­sumers about qual­ity, thus improv­ing their palate and desire for bet­ter tea. We’re still a bit behind here, but many retail­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers are mak­ing progress, and con­sumers are increas­ingly look­ing to buy bet­ter teas; they want to know what makes cer­tain teas high qual­ity rather than rely­ing on the manufacturer’s word or entic­ing pack­ag­ing. At the same time, indus­try mem­bers con­tinue to dis­cuss and ask one another, “How do we inter­nally define qual­ity,” and that is great. We are scru­ti­niz­ing our own prod­uct; we are ask­ing what Fair Trade really means; and we are ask­ing if prod­ucts call­ing them­selves ready-to-drink [RTD] tea should con­tain a min­i­mum of tea total dis­solved solids, or if tea-flavored sugar water should be allowed to call itself tea. We are also see­ing big tea buy­ers take notice of the high-quality win­ning teas from the North American Tea Championship, a pro­fes­sion­ally judged tea com­pe­ti­tion. A win here means that a third party pro­fes­sional has assessed qual­ity, and that is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence for man­u­fac­tur­ers when clos­ing major deals.

Trend No. 2. – Tea Retail Continues its Upward Trend

The tea retail trend hit a nice stride in 2011, and it will con­tinue to move up quickly in 2012. Last year, for exam­ple, tea retailer Teavana launched its IPO and Canadian-based DavidsTea opened two retail stores in N.Y.C., adding to its line-up of 69 loca­tions. Most recently, Teavana acquired Canadian –based, Teaopia which has 46 stores. And Starbucks Coffee Company hired tea-retail expert Charles Cain as its new vice pres­i­dent for Tazo tea mer­chants and oper­a­tions, which leads to much spec­u­la­tion regard­ing Starbucks’ plans to launch tea retail out­lets. At World Tea Expo, the indus­try is set to dis­cuss the future growth of tea retail – and what will hap­pen in 2012 – in a ses­sion called “Will Tea Ever Be as Big as Coffee?” Right now, in the United States, there are cur­rently more than 25,000 cof­fee­houses and around 3,500 tea retail locations.

Trend No. 3. – Green Tea Grows in Popularity

Green tea is mov­ing ahead of fla­vored and blended herbal teas, in terms of pop­u­lar­ity. No doubt due to its asso­ci­a­tion with health and the pref­er­ences of age­ing Baby Boomers and con­scious Millennials, green tea is expe­ri­enc­ing a grow­ing con­sumer base, and that will con­tinue this year. According to Packaged Facts’ Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S., 4th Edition, green tea is cur­rently the No. 2 top fla­vor for U.S. tea prod­uct intro­duc­tions (the No. 1 spot is blended teas). Among house­holds pur­chas­ing loose leaf tea, green tea edges out herbal and fruit/spice teas with black tea as No. 1. The study notes that green tea is the No. 1 selected spe­cialty tea prod­uct selected by cus­tomers at restau­rants and retail establishments.

Trend No. 4. – Tea-enhancing Tea Wares

Glassware maker Reidel cre­ates some of the finest wine glasses and decanters, and it’s said that these spe­cial glasses make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the taste of vino, bring­ing out the depth, fla­vor and bal­ance. And now, as the gen­eral pop­u­lous con­tin­ues to build a sophis­ti­cated palate, inno­va­tors are emerg­ing and look­ing at ways they can enhance the tea drink­ing expe­ri­ence on a more sophis­ti­cated level. In fact, one stel­lar exam­ple of tea-enhancing tea ware is the 2012 World Tea Expo Best New Product Award win­ner 1660 London, for its 1660 Tasting Cups. The com­pany won the top prize in the cat­e­gory of Tea Ware. These cups are each shaped to enhance the drink­ing expe­ri­ence of green, black, and fra­grant teas.

Trend No. 5. – Cold Brew Green Tea

Cold brew green tea is expected to be big in 2012. Last year, Japanese man­u­fac­turer Yamashiro Bussan Company launched the first cold brew green tea at World Tea Expo. This year, branded cold-brew green tea takes the stage, includ­ing Swirl Tea, by Breezy Springs LLC. Breezy Spring prod­ucts are already sold in Whole Foods Markets and Publix Supermarkets, to name a few. Swirl is a trendy new con­cept that com­bines pre­mium green tea with con­ve­nience. Its unique, slen­der tea bag goes into a water bot­tle for brew­ing any­where. It also uses all nat­ural ingre­di­ents, is nat­u­rally decaf­feinated, zero calo­ries, and con­tains no sugar or gluten. We pre­dict that with Swirl Tea’s cold-brewed green tea on gro­cery store shelves, there will be a larger con­sumer base and aware­ness for this prod­uct cat­e­gory in 2012. Imagine the delight con­sumers will have when they real­ize they can enjoy green tea with­out wor­ry­ing about over-steeping it or water tem­per­a­tures caus­ing the tea to taste like burnt grass. Swirl Green Tea – Cold-Brewed On The Go!, by Breezy Spring LLC, won a 2012 World Tea Expo Best New Product Award in the cat­e­gory of Tea as an Ingredient.

Trend No. 6. – Matcha Lattes (Real Ones)

Unlike the poor qual­ity Matcha lattes that have “crashed and burned” in the past, there are now superb prod­uct offer­ings in the mar­ket. All of these use real and high-quality Japanese Matcha, blended with min­i­mal sugar but packed with fla­vor, such as AIYA America’s Matcha Zen Café Blend. Matcha lattes are already wildly sell­ing in Canadian food­ser­vice estab­lish­ments, and we sus­pect the time has come for American restau­rants to catch on in 2012. They are easy to make, require no addi­tional equip­ment, taste deli­cious and are packed with the nutri­tional ben­e­fits of Matcha. They’re cer­tainly a won­der­ful alter­na­tive to over-roasted cof­fee after a lovely dinner.

Tea Growth in 2012 & Beyond

On the whole, tea con­tin­ues to grow in the mar­ket­place, and many com­pa­nies – like 2012 World Tea Expo exhibitor finum by Riensch & Held – are nur­tur­ing an urban tea cul­ture, where con­sumers are dis­cov­er­ing full-leaf spe­cialty teas. finum offers a range of prod­ucts, includ­ing styl­ish drink ware in com­bi­na­tion with unique fil­ter­ing com­po­nents for tea. The com­pany agrees that more young peo­ple are drink­ing tea because they like it, because it suits their image, because it fits into their life style. “They are of course health con­scious,” says Christian Justus, CEO of finum, “and tea must blend into their social and eco­logic envi­ron­ment – in the office, at a party on the street.” The com­pany is try­ing to make it eas­ier to pre­pare good, high qual­ity tea to the stan­dard that the Chinese and Japanese are accus­tomed to.

Yes, tea is on the rise. And accord­ing to pro­jec­tions from Packaged Facts, in their study Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S., 4th Edition, tea retail mar­ket growth will edge up from approx­i­mately 6.6 per­cent in 2012 to 8.7 per­cent in 2014, reach­ing $8.3 bil­lion in that year. World Tea Expo pre­sen­ter David Sprinkle, research direc­tor for Packaged Facts, notes, “The hori­zon for tea indeed looks bright. Factors spurring con­tin­ued over­all growth of the tea mar­ket include: the suc­cess of refrig­er­ated and RTD tea; the acqui­si­tions of Honest Tea and Sweet Leaf Tea that will con­tinue to expand the dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels for these and other organic and spe­cialty brands; the rapid expan­sion of spe­cialty tea retail­ers such as Teavana; increased empha­sis by Starbucks and other cof­fee­houses on their tea offer­ings; the sus­tained pro­mo­tion of tea by the big restau­rant chains, led by McDonald’s; the pro­lif­er­a­tion of tea rooms and other tea offer­ings at food­ser­vice; the con­tin­ued recog­ni­tion by con­sumers of tea’s healthy prop­er­ties and their switch to tea from car­bon­ated soft drinks.” Sprinkle will present, “Understanding the Retail Shopper of Tea Products” Saturday, at World Tea Expo.

Kim Jage is the sales and mar­ket­ing direc­tor, World Tea Media, a divi­sion of F+W Media. To learn more about these trends and other hot tea top­ics, reg­is­ter for World Tea Expo at

Tea Is on the Rise

Categories: 2011, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

While tea may be one of the old­est and most famil­iar bev­er­ages in the world, it’s more pop­u­lar than ever. Thus, it’s imper­a­tive that retail­ers step up their tea offer­ings, to reach new cus­tomers and increase prof­its.
Here’s a look at some of the key devel­op­ments in tea.

Green tea
While 90 per­cent of tea con­sumed in the U.S. is black, green tea con­sump­tion has dou­bled in recent years to about 10 per­cent, accord­ing to the Tea Association of the USA. Awareness of the health and well­ness attrib­utes of tea accounts for its pop­u­lar­ity with Millennials and Baby Boomers alike. Green tea’s antioxidant-rich rep­u­ta­tion makes it a key ingre­di­ent in juice blends and func­tional foods. Matcha smooth­ies and the addi­tion of black and green tea to baked goods is grow­ing, and cof­fee­houses are expe­ri­enc­ing great sales results with sweet tea and fla­vored tea lattes, both hot and cold.

Ready-to-drink teas
Ready-to-drink teas have found their way into super­mar­kets in a greater vari­ety than ever before, and sales of tea in con­ve­nient and widely avail­able bot­tles and cans out­paced soft drinks in 2008. In fact, sales of U.S. bot­tled RTD tea increased 29 per­cent to $118 mil­lion in Mexico, and Coca Cola is sell­ing green-tea fla­vored Sprite in China. Specialty brands such as Coca-Cola’s Honest Tea are now widely avail­able from large dis­trib­u­tors. Smaller regional tea com­pa­nies like Numi Tea now bot­tle their teas, and large man­u­fac­tur­ers, like Japanese bev­er­age giant Ito En, are import­ing a new line of TEAS tea in three tiers of sweet­ness. Every grab-and-go cooler in cof­fee­houses should pro­vide the lunch crowd with a selec­tion of these RTD teas.

Specialty iced tea
Iced tea is also expe­ri­enc­ing a surge. The National Restaurant Association annu­ally sur­veys pro­fes­sional chefs on “What’s Hot.” This year, 57 per­cent of the 1,500 chefs named spe­cialty iced tea a hot trend. Flavored teas, southern-style sweet tea, tea lattes and Thai teas are all “on-trend.” Thirty five per­cent of the chefs also pre­dicted increased demand for green tea, served hot or cold. Commercial serv­ings of iced tea exceeded 5.4 bil­lion in the year end­ing December 2010; a three per­cent increase com­pared to 2009, accord­ing to The NPD Group, a mar­ket research firm in Port Washington, N.Y.

Sexy, mod­ern tea wares
Tea is very pop­u­lar with a new gen­er­a­tion and, thus, hip tea ware and uten­sils are a nat­ural exten­sion. A younger demo­graphic responds to tea prod­ucts and gifts that are mod­ern, BPA free, user-friendly and cleanly designed. Retailers will ben­e­fit from mak­ing these gift­ware items avail­able at their shop. Consider using wares like Moroccan ceram­ics, for exam­ple, for in-store ser­vice. The trend is to use origin-influenced tea wares that com­pli­ment a spe­cific tea on your menu.

Organic tea, sus­tain­abil­ity and health
The U.S. is now the world’s largest mar­ket for organ­ics and the largest con­sumer of Fair Trade goods. Every major super­mar­ket chain, includ­ing Wal-Mart, now sells organic foods. Naturally, with the empha­sis on global con­nec­tiv­ity and an influx of younger peo­ple drink­ing tea, there is a strength­en­ing demand for organic and sus­tain­able tea products.

We will surely see more nat­ural prod­uct retail­ers sell­ing private-label organic teas, and most big retail­ers already have their organic pri­vate label lines and teas will be included. This is an oppor­tu­nity for retail­ers to add organic tea to the mix and reach a large buy­ing audi­ence that seeks these products.

There is also a rush of new prod­ucts for­mu­lated to enhance tea’s healthy rep­u­ta­tion. Large man­u­fac­tur­ers such as Hain Celestial and Bigelow Tea have added pro­bi­otics, omega-3s, gin­seng, guarana, gin­ger and more to bot­tled and pack­aged tea. Natural prod­uct retail­ers are sell­ing private-label tea, herbals and organic tea. Retailers includ­ing Safeway and Kroger added organic tea to their store-band mix to reach a large buy­ing audi­ence seek­ing these products.

Celebrity tea lines
Actor Chris Noth, the Sex & the City star and for­mer New York club boss, launched a green tea line in April, and celebri­ties from Donald J. Trump to Lady Gaga and Padma Lakshmi have their own tea lines or are plan­ning to launch tea lines, which show­cases tea’s height­ened stand­ing in the mar­ket­place. The pop­u­lar­ity of these lines is help­ing to intro­duce tea to new audi­ences. Celebrities clearly see the value in get­ting in the tea business.

Men and Millennials
The fastest grow­ing demo­graphic of atten­dees at World Tea Expo, the annual event for the tea indus­try, is between the ages of 18 to 28, and they are men, accord­ing to data from the Expo’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 events. The indus­try is not only see­ing a younger gen­er­a­tion of tea pro­fes­sion­als at its events, but it’s see­ing tea com­pa­nies and retail­ers mar­ket to men and Millennials with spe­cific prod­ucts.
Young tea drinkers reject the rit­u­als of their grand­par­ents, choos­ing more casual set­tings to imbibe. They are glob­ally con­nected, and attracted to teas’ exotic nature. They are avid researchers who drink a diver­sity of teas from many regions.
“The early adop­tion of tea as a bev­er­age of choice by Millennials indi­cates longevity for the cat­e­gory,” says Annis Lyles, vice pres­i­dent of media and inter­ac­tive for Coca-Cola, North America.

From “spe­cialty” to “pre­mium”
The tea indus­try used to group all of its whole-leaf tea into a cat­e­gory called “spe­cialty.” Tea pro­fes­sion­als, man­u­fac­tur­ers and chefs have fur­ther cat­e­go­rized spe­cialty as a group of fla­vored bev­er­ages such as tea lattes, Thai tea, southern-style sweet tea and tea­puc­ci­nos. The term “pre­mium” refers to high-quality tea ver­sus tea that is sim­ply whole leaf or scented. Essentially, as the palates of tea drinkers evolve, so does the nomen­cla­ture. While sales of spe­cialty tea remain a small por­tion of the U.S. mar­ket, this fast-growing seg­ment is dri­ving inno­va­tion and the growth of spe­cialty retail ven­tures. Like cheese shops and wine mer­chants, tea retail­ers fea­tur­ing 100 to 150 selec­tions are appear­ing in mar­kets with pop­u­la­tions of 200,000 and greater and thriv­ing in large high-rent regional malls.

Innovative tea pack­ag­ing
Quality tea is always the first pri­or­ity, but con­sumers also appre­ci­ate unique pack­ag­ing, espe­cially if the tea is meant to be a gift. Companies like Tea Forte offer a bril­liant exam­ple of pack­ag­ing inno­va­tion. Right now, inno­v­a­tive, made-from-the-earth and func­tional tea prod­uct pack­ag­ing is “in.” As an exam­ple, when Ajiri Tea launched at 2010 World Tea Expo, their hand-made tea pack­ag­ing from women in Kenya, made out of banana leaves, was a huge hit. Rather than plac­ing it in a typ­i­cal tin, they com­mu­ni­cated the teas’ soul through the pack­ag­ing.
Also, Tetulia chose a com­postable can­is­ter that breaks down nat­u­rally in 150 days and holds 16 biodegrad­able, silken pyra­mid tea bags. “We wanted some­thing that was kind to our earth… but some­times it can be chal­leng­ing to have an earth-friendly yet attrac­tive pack­age. We think we mar­ried the two just per­fectly,” says Director of Marketing Chris Olsen.

An empha­sis on tea ori­gins
Attendees at 2011 World Tea Expo can also expect a greater empha­sis placed on tra­di­tional tea cus­toms from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. We’re see­ing the indus­try and con­sumers talk­ing more about the ori­gin of the tea they are drink­ing, the process it took to get here and the cul­tural cus­toms sur­round­ing it.

Tea and restau­rants
Tea is mak­ing giant strides in the culi­nary and food­ser­vice world in 2011. The indus­try is see­ing restau­rants offer pre­mium tea drinks on the menu, and it’s see­ing inno­v­a­tive chefs present some excit­ing, fla­vor­ful dishes that incor­po­rate tea. In fact, one well-known restau­rant that’s tea-inspired is Charlie Palmer’s AAA Four Diamond and Michelin One Star restau­rant Aureole, where Executive Chef Vincent Pouessel and Pastry Chef Megan Romano cre­ate both savory and dessert dishes that fea­ture tea. The fine din­ing estab­lish­ment is at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., and it uses tea in sev­eral items. Some of the restaurant’s high­lights include: Green Tea Smoked Moulard Duck Breast with truf­fle parsnip purée, Glazed Fava Beans and nat­ural duck jus; Tea-infused Chocolate Ganache with moun­tain berry Chambord and Eros Peppermint with a blood orange and vanilla bean scent; an Eros tea-infused Concord Grape Pound Cake; and a honey-orange pekoe-infused Crème Brulee. The restau­rant is fea­tured at World Tea Expo in a Cooking with Tea Workshop.

Certainly, 2011 is an excit­ing time for the tea indus­try, and this year’s World Tea Expo, June 24 – 26 in Las Vegas, will most cer­tainly high­light all the major tea trends.

Kim Jage is exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of World Tea Media, orga­niz­ers of World Tea Expo, World Tea East, World Tea News and the North American Tea Championship.

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