What is the future for the tea market?

What is the future for the tea market?

Beverage Business World asked the leading lights of the tea market to give us their predictions for the future.

Louise Cheadle, tea taster and co-founder, teapigs, Oscar Woolley, sales & marketing director and co-founder, Suki Teas,  Emilie Holmes, founder, Good & Proper Tea, Rebecca Vercoe, brand controller for Clipper Tea, at Wessanen UK, Marshall Kingston, senior brand manager – Out of Home, Tetley, Steve Slark, chairman, Beverage Standards Association, Alice Evans, head of tea, Canton Tea and Claire Fleun, shopper marketing executive, Twinings Foodservice give their predictions for the tea sector. 


“2018 was a great year for tea and Teapigs and we’re expecting some of the trends which pushed last year’s growth to continue through to 2019. First up, despite the economic/political uncertainty we’re facing, we have a more educated and expectant customer who is willing to spend more on premium tea. Super premium tea was the biggest growing sector in the tea market last year and this means operators should really up their tea game if they don’t want to get left behind.

"Herbal and speciality black teas (like earl grey, chai) were especially popular and these will continue to be grow in interest. Keep an eye out for chai and single estate teas being big sellers this year.

"The health and wellbeing sector will continue to grow with more people drinking functional teas like our feel good range. Consumers are also putting increasing focus on sustainability so vendors need to check their products’ green credentials and remember that provenance is key!”

Louise Cheadle, tea taster and co-founder, teapigs


“What’s hot in tea for 2019 and beyond? A more appropriate question is …What’s cold?

"A growing trend gives rise to teas blended specifically for cold brew prep, they’re convenient to make and can command a greater premium. RTD teas will also start to make an appearance following increases in consumer demand for alternatives to traditional cold and soft drinks. In terms of innovations and experimental flavours expect Ginspired botanical blends including Elderflower or Rosemary and some quirky collaborations such as Earl Grey beers & whiskey teas.

"There is no doubt that the premiumisation trend will continue to grow; with customers demanding more traceability in tea, sustainability commitments in ethical sourcing and promises in plastic reduction. Rare and limited-edition teas will also continue as a point of brand and product differentiation.

"Brewing and serve sophistication is still on the rise. Quirky theatrics are being explored but loose leaf in a teapot is still king and consumers are loyal to the format. New consumer desires to replicate quality serves at home or on the go will prompt more retail space being needed in cafés and customers becoming savvy in brewing techniques and styles.”

Oscar Woolley, sales & marketing director and co-founder, Suki Teas


"Thanks to the proliferation of 'speciality' coffee shops who have so masterfully elevated the bean from commodity to artisanal foodstuff, there is a new focus on flavour, provenance and method of brewing and that is now being translated into the tea market too. Customers are therefore looking for something more than just a tea bag in a mug - they want a taste of something different and delicious.

"It is a trend that is true in coffee, beer, spirits and beyond - customers are shifting their focus from volume and price to quality and experience, and a 'standard' black tea is no longer enough. We'll therefore see more and more customers trading up to better quality and a diversity of tea types.

"Experience will also continue to be important when it comes to tea out-of-home, not least for the role it plays in value perception. We'll therefore see more and more foodservice outlets switching to loose leaf, as well as incorporating storytelling into their tea service. Finally US trends will no doubt make their way across the pond and with UK summers getting hotter, there's never been a better time for it - expect iced teas, including sugar-free, nitro tea and sparkling cold brew tea on tap. The sky is the limit when it comes to innovations in tea, so one thing is for sure - there will always be something new and exciting around the corner.

Emilie Holmes, founder, Good & Proper Tea


"The Functional Beverages Market is expected to grow at CAGR 5.5% by 2020, which provides an opportunity for businesses to focus on beverages which provide added wellness benefits. Fruit, herbal and green teas in particular have observed a significant rise in popularity, having seen a growth of 9.6% from 2016 vs 2017.  

"With this in mind, Tetley recently launched its new Super Tea Envelope range, now available for the first time in foodservice. This range offers fresh and exciting new blends that deliver added nutritional benefits, from reducing tiredness to supporting healthy immune systems.”

Marshall Kingston, senior brand manager – Out of Home, Tetley



"Consumers are becoming increasing conscious about the impact of their purchasing decisions and want to know who picked their tea and where it’s from. Clipper Teas was the UK’s first Fairtrade tea brand 25 years ago and this year we’re showing consumers how buying Clipper can make a world of difference – contributing to improved standards for education, medical care, female empowerment and retirement.

"The wellbeing trend, for both people and the planet, is driving consumers towards hot beverages made with natural, quality ingredients which is where brands with an ethical and sustainable focus, like Clipper will grow.

"We’re fiercely committed to minimising our environmental impact which is why we’ve recently launched the world’s first heat-sealed tea bag that’s not only non-GM and unbleached but is also plastic-free. Premiumisation remains a key trend in the tea category. Top quality teas that can tick all the boxes – great taste, ethical sourcing and high-quality, natural ingredients – offering greater value for money." 

Rebecca Vercoe,  brand controller for Clipper Tea, at Wessanen UK



"Like the rise and rise of coffee in the out of home sector largely due to innovation, trends, culture and fashion i see Tea riding a new crest of the wave in the coming years. I have seen more enquires for Tea training and Tea information and with that the inevitable Tea focused trade events that will be hosting Tea competitions.

"Is this because as popular as Coffee is there is not that much more space in left in that environment and the newer generations are now trying Tea with much more choice and variation and a feeling of being on trend.

"My personal feeling is that we shall tea offerings and tea occasions increase rapidly next to coffee and not just as a poor second choice, and   this will also be impacted by the whole disposable cup offer as Tea should only be consumed from a ceramic cup and does not generally make a good take away offer.

"I am looking forward with the help of new equipment innovations, better knowledge and training and great Tea choices to really putting British Afternoon tea back on the map and back into British culture.

Steve Slark, chairman, Beverage Standards Association 





"This year we are going to see the proliferation of cold tea drinks over the summer months. Consumers are demanding healthy alternatives to soft drinks. Cold brews, iced teas, sparkling teas and coolers are easy to make, healthy and offer excellent margins.

"Chefs and sommeliers at the top end of the market have already started to take note of the complexity of tea and the huge variety of flavours. We are going to see more and more restaurants at all levels of the market offering tea pairing options as an alternative to alcohol.

"Last summer we developed sparkling tea recipes for the Wolseley and since then we’ve had more and more demand for creative cold tea drinks concepts so at the end of March Canton will be launching an official summer drinks guide, packed full of cold tea drinks recipes for our customers.   

Alice Evans, head of tea, Canton Tea


"Tea is experiencing a resurgence and the two key trends driving this transformation in a foodservice environment are around health & wellness and experience. 

"Twinings’ research highlights that 68% of adult consumers would typically choose a healthier alternative to a soft drink if available, whilst 73% would like to see a larger range of sugar-free options. In an out of home (OOH) environment there is a huge opportunity for operators to play to this trend and offer an adult beverage that is delicious, natural and sugar free.  

Creating ‘tea theatre’ with a premium beverage is a key occasion for the OOH market and one that has significant leverage for the future. Crafting a visually stunning beverage with beautiful glasses, garnishes of mint and inclusions of fruit takes a tea far, far away from the traditional ‘builders brew’ and into a modern and appealing realm that the OOH sector can really own."

Claire Fleun, shopper marketing executive, Twinings Foodservice


Related articles

Newsletter Sign-up