Functionality and transparency dominate the new trend of tea!
Tea beverages are in line with current trends in the food and beverage industry: the pursuit of health, greater demand for transparency, and the growth of specialty products.
Behind the scenes of the World Tea Expo, tea is preparing for a new wave of innovation and has a lot of room for development. The “Tea 3.0” era is driven by consumer demand for deliciousness, health and convenience.
Tea, with its nutrition and diversity, positions itself as an “original functional beverage”, stimulating health-conscious consumers to become interested in tea sources, ingredients and supply chains. The increased transparency of tea labels may lead to the rise of its “connoisseur culture”, just like wine.
The millennial generation is currently the fastest growing group of tea consumption, followed by the elderly group.
Joe Gagnon, co-founder and CEO of Performance Tea, said that creating functional teas that are easy to consume for active consumers is key to the current tea market.
These teas contain ingredients for active lifestyles, stress management, pain relief and physical adaptation, such as adaptation to the original and CBD. As more and more active consumers are attracted by cleaning labels, zero sugar and nutrients such as turmeric and ganoderma lucidum mushrooms are popular ingredients.
Andrés Jurado, CEO of the Mexican Tea School, believes that in order for this new wave to succeed, it must motivate people to change their attitudes towards consumption patterns and build on consumers. They know more about what they are drinking and better understand. In the case, they are more willing to pay the price for the products they receive.
Most brands in all CPG categories now want to offer high quality products. But Jurado said that they are not always willing to pay a fair price for raw materials, which is what the final consumer will imitate.
When a brand cuts corners on raw materials, it usually means sacrificing taste. But Don Ho, founder and CEO of Harmony Tea Bar, believes that tea is the perfect product that blends flavor and function.
By adding ingredients such as stable probiotics, vitamins and caffeine extracts, tea is shifting from focusing on specific health issues to focusing on more general health goals such as “relaxation” or “energy”. Ho believes that the difference between tea designed for enjoyment and tea designed for health will only continue to blur.
A transparent supply chain is important to all consumers in today's food and beverage category and is also important for sustainable practices such as renewable agriculture and zero waste. This also applies to tea, which is certified by Canadian certified tea sommelier Michelle Pierce Hamilton, who will soon surpass the label on the package to prove that the product is “clean and fair”.
“People are looking for a connection between food and tea. They value the experience that makes them feel they have made healthier choices. Their purchases support a system that has a positive impact.”
Tony Gebely, executive director of the US Specialty Tea Alliance, believes that there is room in the global tea market to foster a “connoisseur culture” that may drive the growth of the specialty tea industry. Just like wine connoisseurs, they benefit from the wine's origin label.
However, because tea does not always reveal the same information, many different brands of tea are produced by the same manufacturer at different prices, and some even forge the origin information.
“It’s very troublesome for connoisseurs. How can we compare similar teas? How can we discover the soul of tea? How do we determine the value of the producer’s vintage? How can we expand our taste? We can only rely on Is the trust of suppliers."
Tony believes that the tea industry can only succeed if it is truly transparent. This can only be achieved if the producer's name and location are shared with consumers. He said that the altitude, variety or processing methods used are also valuable.