There are fewer cups of traditional tea being drank by Brits, according to research. But even when the number of traditional teas drank dropped by 870 million in 2017, the market value of tea rose by 0.6%. How can this happen? Well, it’s down to the type of tea we’re drinking – we’re moving away from our comfort zone and are embracing new flavours.
The Various Types Of Tea-Drinker
The changing behaviours and attitudes of tea-drinkers is certainly changing the market. According to the Modern Tea Trends 2019 study, 50 per cent of tea brands identified the 24-35 year old group as their biggest growing demographic. Perhaps because of this, the view of tea has changed. It’s no longer a milky, warm beverage that sits on a table while people discuss problems, though it is still the go-to makeshift remedy for everything from a bad day at work to a broken leg for some. Now, tea has a swathe of health benefits to its name. It’s more than a murky brown leaf-water, it’s a bright and colourful variety of health and wellness beverages. 80 per cent of brands are watching the wellness trend as a key asset for tea.
The National Tea Day group highlights to main types of tea-drinkers. Ready for a quick quiz to find out which type you are?
1. Is it more important to you for your tea to be comforting or healthy?
a. Comforting. If a good strong brew can’t fix it, it’s probably not worth fixing.
b. Healthy. A good tea should give me energy, pep, and cleanse my inner being.
2. Sensory-wise, you expect your tea experience to be…
a. Sweet, or sweet-ish. If you wanted to assault your tongue with bitter tones, you’d have ordered a coffee…
b. Sensual, or aromatic. The experience of my tea is not just in taste but in smell. It should pamper my nose as much as my tongue.
3. Your perfect cup of tea would be…
a. Creamy or milky. Best described as a ‘hug in a mug’.
b. Colourful. Whether it’s red, blue, green, or purple, it needs to be bright and beautiful.
Traditionalists tend to answer mainly a. You care about your tea being a healing drink, but not necessarily in the sense of it carrying antioxidants or being hydrating. It’s just about comfort for you, a means to relax and calm down with a soothing cup of milky tea.
Modernist-tend to answer mainly a. Times are changing, and so is your go-to tea. Your tea isn’t always designed to make you fall into a milk-and-sugar-wrapped blanket of cosy warmth. Sure, camomile tea will relax you when you need it, but you have tea for every occasion. For energy, for a cold, for digestion, for preserving health, for anxiety, you name it, you’ve got a type of tea to wind around all the senses and sort it right out.
Tea is Adapting To A New Market
Tea is seen as a wellness product now, and not merely a drink. This ties in with the rise of herbal teas over standard black leaf tea – herbal teas come in so many varieties, from all over the world, and often have intricate ceremonies or stories attached to them. These aspects are as much of the ‘sensual’ experience as the tea itself. Cafés and tea rooms have been using this to their benefit too, offering tea experiences for their customers, such as offering food created to complement the flavour of different herbal teas, or brewing the leaves in a beautiful antique silver teapot in order to achieve a higher brewing temperature than a normal teapot, and makes use of silver’s neutrality protecting the pure taste of the tea. The whole experience is catered for the customer’s enjoyment.
Tea is also easy to change to suit your tastes. It can be enjoyed at home with full control over your personal taste, or out enjoying an aforementioned experience and story.
Looking Beyond The Tea Leaves
We’re looking now at the tales and claims behind a number of different tea.
HIBISCUS TEA – RED
A health-favourite, this ruby tea is calorie and caffeine free. It has a sweet and tart taste and is popular in North Africa and Southeast Asia. Particularly in Africa, hibiscus tea is tout as having many benefits, including helping with a sore throat and high blood pressure. Indeed, one study has noted that hibiscus tea contributed to the reduction of the systolic blood pressure of its participants.
BARLEY TEA – ORANGE
This bitter, nutty tea is popular hot or cold in Korea, China, and Japan. Like hibiscus tea, it is caffeine-free. There are a lot of health claims tied to barley tea, but only few have been proven by scientific study. These range from claims to help with cold symptoms, aiding a sore stomach, clearing complexion, and even weight loss. But, if nothing else, it’s a great caffeine-free alternative to coffee and traditional tea!
LEMON AND HONEY TEA – YELLOW
There’s nothing like lemon and honey tea when you’re stuffed full of cold and flu. This golden-coloured tea has the main claim to fame for fighting cold symptoms, but it’s also been said to help with everything from weight loss to acne. With the vitamin C boost of lemon, and the cough-suppressing nature of honey, this is a drink that does have some scientific backing in terms of helping with a cough and sniffles. But the claims of clearing acne and weight loss are unconfirmed by scientific study. Still, it is definitely one to reach for next time cold season comes around.
There are plenty of health benefits and stories pin to green tea. But are any of the stories true? Luckily yes. Green tea is pack with antioxidants and catechins, the latter of which could slow down bacterial growth. The green brew has also been claimed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and boost metabolic rate.
BUTTERFLY PEA FLOWER TEA – BLUE
This next one is definitely Instagram-worthy. This blue brew changes colour depending on the pH level of ingredients added to it – for example, a little lemon will turn it purple! Butterfly pea flower tea sounds fancy, looks fancy, but does it bring anything fancy to the table of health benefits? The sapphire hued drink has been used for centuries in Asia, but it’s only started fluttering into the western world of tea in recent years. The tea, like green tea, carries a lot of antioxidants, and has been tied to claims of protecting the skin. There are studies that support butterfly pea flower tea’s ability to help reduce internal inflammation.
BLACKCURRANT TEA – INDIGO
Move over Ribena, there’s a new blackcurrant drink In town. Herbal blackcurrant tea doesn’t always brew with a purple hue, strictly speaking. But the purple berries that make this tea bring some great potential benefits to your tea cup, such as a high vitamin C level, antibacterial properties, and reducing inflammation.
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This one has a rather humble name. But its alternative name, ‘ox-blood’, sounds much more ferocious. It is claim that purple tea could compete with green tea for the crown of most purport health benefits, such as claims to help protect against cardiovascular diseases and there are even stories of it improving vision.
It is wise to note that these health claims are just claims. But if nothing else, tea does count towards your daily water needs, with the dehydrating claims of tea having been debunk. So, top up that teacup – it’s trendy and healthy!