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Britain is a nation of tea lovers. So much so that the Tea & Infusions Association says that more than 100 million cups are drunk in the UK every single day, or almost 36 billion per year. The number of cups of coffee drunk each day, meanwhile, is just 70 million.
Brits love green tea
For starters, the UK’s most coveted type of tea is green tea, according to research from fair trade retailer Traidcraft. By compiling Google search data over the course of 2020, the business found 17 of the most searched-for types of tea. It discovered that green tea came out on top, ranking first in all UK regions except for the South West, which was found to favour chamomile tea. Across the UK, Chamomile took second place, followed by matcha tea in third.
The runaway trend for the year was hibiscus tea, which saw stunning search growth of 1,420% over 2020, while interest in lemon tea fell by more than 200%. Traditional favourites Earl Grey and English Breakfast only reached 8th and 15th place respectively, but the UK’s least favourite tea was found to be cranberry.
Consumers are trading up
Coffee isn’t the only drink to have benefited from the rise of the home barista over lockdown – sales of tea kit such as premium pots and infusers grew over the course of the pandemic. But the premiumisation of tea was happening well before Covid-19 hit, with research by Euromonitor showing that over the five years to 2019, black tea volume sales dropped, but the value sold rose, meaning shoppers were trading up for higher-quality products.
Drinkers are looking for comfort
The rise of comfort eating can be seen across the food and drink industry over the past year, and the tea sector is front and centre for this trend. Not only are countless blends created with calming properties available today, but consumers can turn their tea breaks into small moments of ritual to boost their wellness.
“Especially now, it is crucial we allow time for self-care, to support our local communities and the environment,” George Dunkerton, owner of A Little Cup and champion of the social healing properties of tea, recently told Specialtiy Food. “The offering of tea in particular allows for this moment of break, which is embedded in a long history of ritual, respect and care.”
Thanks to growing demand for tea that supports wellbeing, Tea India recently introduced five new functional blends, each focused on boosting a certain aspect of health and wellbeing.
Shoppers want a fair cuppa
According to Clipper, demand for Fairtrade and organic tea has rocketed in recent years. Kantar Worldpanel data shows that Fairtrade tea sales were up 14%, while organic sales flew 43%. Fairtrade tea ensures the people who grow and pick tea earn a fair living, and it’s no surprise that this trend is growing amid the rise of the conscious consumer.
New formats are emerging
Tea bags and loose leaf blends are the typical formats for tea, but start-ups are pushing the boundaries with innovations such as Waterdrop’s ‘microtea’, a dissolvable cube that can be added straight to hot water.
Tea will always be a favourite among consumers, but with innovations in format and flavour keeping tea drinkers on their toes, there are plenty of ways for retailers to capture the imagination of their customers today.