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Tea has long been touted as the beverage to calm nerves, lift moods and boost energy. In fact, according to the Tea Census 2022, 15% of respondents drink tea because they want a break from work or life, and a further 20% say they drink it because they need or want to relax.
Many respondents also admitted to sipping on a cup of tea to help with certain emotions such as when they were feeling down (14%), upset (12%) or lonely (9%). In 2023, brands are taking these functions to the next level.
As Alexandra Foster, category merchant for non-perishables at Whole Foods Market, explains, “We are seeing customers looking for more than just a regular cup of tea. Consumers are focusing more on functional beverages and teas that provide additional health benefits, with products supporting focus, immunity, gut health, and sleep, becoming more mainstream.”
Kombucha is a product that caters to this trend, providing gut-friendly live cultures and slow-release caffeine from green tea. As Freya Twigden, founder of Fix8, explains, “In recent years, fermented food and drink have had a huge surge in interest – from kefir to kimchi to sauerkraut, they’re all the rage. Not just for their incredible flavour, but also their ‘live probiotic’ nature and the subsequent benefit to the gut.”
Aside from the physical benefits tea can offer, at Whole Foods Market, “We are seeing increasing numbers of tea brands offering more targeted products to support mental health and pushing to introduce almost ‘medicinal’ teas”, according to Alexandra.
As Urvashi Agarwal, founder of JP’s Originals, explains, “The tea aisle has shifted to having more functional infusions than ever before, aimed at helping with things such as sleep, bloating, and detoxification amongst others.
“For those prioritising wellness, our range of functional CBD blends has been formulated to target specific concerns. They are packed with antioxidants, fight inflammation, assist with balance and most importantly aid relaxation and sleep, which has been imperative, especially since Covid.”
By experimenting with the new generation of flavour profiles out there, catering for the growing demand for health and functionality-focused options, and making sure your selection offers something extra special for those seeking enjoyment and a one-of-a-kind experience, you’re sure to become a go-to for discerning shoppers thirsty to fill their cup.
The face of tea is changing, and consumers are no longer just seeking taste. After all, paying attention to the needs of your customers will serve independent retailers well in 2023, as function and health drive a revolution for the Great British brew.