As a significant part of Taiwan’s economy, tea business is big.
Over the years, though, tea’s popularity has begun to wane. Less land is devoted to tea farming and the growers are aging. Traditional tea is sometimes called “old people’s tea.”
Cold tea like bubble tea, however, is definitely growing. 67% of total tea earnings now come from the bubble tea industry. 20% is bottled. Only 13% is from loose leaf.
How can Taiwan’s tea industry address these trend? Upscale tea cafes are aimed at reinvigorating the industry. David Huang of Zenique notes that there are efforts to replicate what Europe has done with specialty cafes and tea-infused desserts.
Thomas Shu, founder of JT&Tea and the Ambassador of Taiwanese Tea (as designated by the Taiwanese Tea Manufacturer’s Association), sees the bubble tea trend as one that has been beneficial to the whole industry in the long-term. “Boba tea has been really popular for over 20 years already in Taiwan. It is tea, but not real tea, more like a meal for the youngsters. We noticed those who enjoyed boba tea back in 1990s, now are over 40-50…and they’ve turned to enjoy real tea in their daily lifestyle.”
Other business owners are seeing a boost from tea-infused products and foods and beverages with tea as an ingredient.
Tea tourism is another strategy to bring fresh eyes to a long-revered industry.
“Variety wise, young tea drinkers might be open to trying more highly oxidized oolongs and black teas. They are adopting a different tea culture,” says Shu. “Terroir, the different estates and cultivars…more and more issues are on the table in Taiwan. Education with theory, cupping, tasting and serving is getting more attention from the trade. This will help Taiwan move forward on food pairings with fine oolongs.”
SOURCE: BBC News