Half the country drinks tea yet no two tea lovers are alike in their taste for this remarkably diverse brew.
North America is now the third-largest tea importer in the world, welcoming 3,000 varieties grown in 35 countries. The American palate is more discerning than in past years and tea drinkers today are more willing to pay for quality over commodity blends.
To draw attention to the extraordinary aspects of this beverage, the Tea Council of the USA each January celebrates National Hot Tea Month and Hot Tea Day (Thursday, Jan. 12). Many retailers and tea bloggers use the opportunity to promote tea drinking.
This year, tea drinkers are invited to participate in a photo sharing sweepstakes, which runs through Jan. 31.
To enter, simply upload to Twitter (hashtag #IndividualiTEA) a photo or share a short explanation of the unique ways, times, or places you enjoy your favorite tea. The winner receives $500 and a year’s supply of tea. Click here to submit an entry.
“We are excited to be celebrating the different countries of origin,” said Peter F. Goggi, President of the Tea Council of the USA. “The diverse flavors and characteristics that result from the local geography, climate, elevation, and soil of each country offer a taste to satisfy every palate and occasion. Today, the U.S. is the third-largest importer of tea in the world, and the only western nation where tea consumption is growing,” he said
January is the perfect opportunity to explore, experience, and celebrate hot tea—and to fully recognize and showcase the countries responsible for growing the types of tea the world has come to love and enjoy, according to the Tea Council.
In Canada, where hot tea is also celebrated in January, Mintel International reports that when asked their preference, 39% of the Canadian public surveyed reported drinking green tea in the past month; 36% preferred black tea; and 27% drank fruit and herbals. Tea is viewed as having health benefits by 53% of the Canadian public, according to the Mintel report “Revitalizing Tea.” Research shows that drinking a cup of hot tea every day can lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, and can aid in overall heart health, according to the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada.
Click here to view a list of scientifically sound health benefits to share with customers.
“Our multicultural society also plays a large part in the popularity of tea in Canada, as Canadians of all backgrounds are united in their love of tea. English, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and African tea traditions have all become part of our multicultural milieu,” according to Louise Roberge, President of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada.
In the U.S., more than 69% of hot tea is sold bagged. Herbals account for 30% of sales and specialty loose leaf accounts for 1% of purchases. Consumption of green tea has risen to 14%. Loose-leaf tea continues to grow in both dollars and units sold. Sales of ordinary tea bags remained flat in 2016.
The decades long, upward climb in sales continues, with 2017 likely to bring a big jump in the ready-to-drink segment as Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest beer brewer, and Starbucks, the largest coffee shop retailer, introduce Teavana bottled teas at 300,000 U.S. locations. Specialty tea vendors such as $50-million-grossing Argo Tea already earn half their revenue from supermarket and convenience shelves.
“Total retail sales for tea are expected to have a combined average growth rate of 5% to 6% during the next five years,” according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation. Packaged Facts estimated 2016 sales at $7.62 billion for packaged teas, which are sold by grocers, supermarkets, drug stores, department stores, and convenience outlets. An additional $11 billion is spent in foodservice, mainly for iced teas.
Household usage in the U.S. hovers from 72–77% with millennials in both the U.S. and Canada now the most likely to drink tea. On any given day, more than 158 million Americans enjoy a cup of tea, according to the Tea Council of the USA. About 85% of tea consumed is America is served over ice.
Sources: Tea Council of the USA, Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, Mintel International