Functional teas and herbs have become big business. The movement responds to a drive from consumers to tailor their consumption to beverages that do not just replace sugary drinks, but also address specific medical concerns and promote overall healthfulness. Many exhibitors at World Tea Expo 2015 spoke to these interests.
Mamaki of Hawaii is a company that grows and sells Pipturis albidus, commonly known as mamaki. A member of the nettle family, the caffeine-free plant has been used medicinally in Hawaii for decades. Sold under the brand name Mama-kii Hawaiian Tea, the herbal tea is promoted for its effects on heart health, stress reduction and glucose control. Wild mamaki has grown in Hawaii for generations, but Mamaki of Hawaii has the only mamaki plantation that has been certified by the state of Hawaii.
Dragon Herbs is a company that runs herb shops and tonic bars in Santa Monica and Los Angeles and offers herbal consultations to customers in person or over the phone. Each of their offerings is focused on the ways it can promote positive wellbeing. At the show they distributed samples of “Longevity Tea” which includes goji berries, eleuthero, schizandra, astragalus and Luo Han Guo. They also provided Longan Fruit (“Dragon Eye”) for tranquility and better skin and schizandra for organ health. On display was their “Desktop Botanical Garden” series which includes a glass tea elixir cylinder, teapot and candle tea warmer.
Algonquin Tea has been operating in this sector for nearly twenty years. They market a Homestead Blend for cold and flu, Sweetfern Tonic for immune support and Peace Tea for better sleep. These organic herbs are hand-picked and many are indigenous to Canada. They call themselves the first “bioregional company in North America.” They pick, dry, grind and bag all the blends themselves.
There were a large number of other companies with substantial herbal offerings or who also specialize in functional teas and herbs. Some of these included Traditional Medicinals, Rooibos Ltd., and Nuwati Herbals. Korea Ginseng Corporation was among the most memorable with the giant ginseng who posed with expo visitors. The American Herbal Products Association was also represented.