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Tea History & Culture

Tea History & Culture

Political Turmoil Jeopardizes Second Flush Tea in Darjeeling

July 20, 2017

Tea is and has always been a political commodity. From the days of the East India Tea Company’s trade monopoly and the Boston Tea Party to today, tea continuously finds its way to the center of political discourse.

Darjeeling District

By Darjeelingmap (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This summer, that’s unfortunately the case in West Bengal, India. In this region—home to Darjeeling’s many tea plantations—there is a majority ethnic Nepalese population known as the Gorkhas. For centuries, Gorkhas have campaigned for their own state within India called Gorkhaland. This summer, the government announced it would introduce the Bengali language to West Bengal schools, which currently teach Nepali, Hindi, and English. Some Gorkhas interpreted the addition of Bengali as an affront to their status as the ethnic majority in the region, and began staging protests that grew violent.

As a result, production on Darjeeling “second flush” tea has been suspended since June 9. Second flush teas—also known as muscatel tea, which we wrote about a while back—are beloved and priced high for their special flavor.

This unique flavor actually comes from insects. In May, June, and July, cold winds bring thrips and jassids to Darjeeling. They eat tea plants, leaving behind a substance called terpene, which gives the tea a very specific flavor that many say you simply know when you taste.

Second flush tea is a casualty of the Gorkha conflict, and an expensive one at that.

The India Times says that second flush teas account for about a quarter of the total tea produced in Darjeeling, and account for a much greater percentage of total tea revenue in the region.

The Darjeeling Tea Association reports that tea producers in Darjeeling have lost about $40 million in potential revenues due to the shut down so far.

“This is 20 percent in terms of volume and 40 percent in terms of revenue,” A.N. Singh, managing director of Darjeeling tea producer Goodricke Group, told Reuters. “This is a complete disaster for the industry.”

Expect price hikes on muscatel tea in the near future, as producers have to charge more to make ends meet while production’s on hold, or brands spike their prices to contend with the fact that no second flush tea is coming this season.

Tea consultant Angela Pryce told Reuters that she expects brands to sell off their 2016 season second flush teas for now, but that even that supply will dry up by this September.

The ethnic conflict at the root of this tea shortage has a long history:

Back in 18th century, the Gorkhas actually controlled Darjeeling, but then surrendered the region to the British in 1816.

And in the 1980s, violent Gorkha protests for statehood claimed 1,000 lives.

Gorkhaland riots

Protestors voice their support for the establishment of Gorkhaland in 2013 | Creative Commons 1.0

India has a long history of different ethnic groups demanding—and receiving—states of their own. It happened as recently as 2013, when the state Telangana was formed out of Andhra Pradesh, and in 2000, when the states Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand were all carved out of already existing states in response to violent protests.

Let’s hope that for the citizens of this region—and tea lovers around the globe—this turmoil comes to a peaceful resolution soon.

Tea History & Culture

And the People’s Tea Choice Awards Winners Are…

July 11, 2017

world tea expo logoThe World Tea Expo took place from June 13 to 15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and crowned the winners of the People’s Tea Choice Awards. The expo pitted teas that had already received top honors in their categories during the year against one another to face the ultimate test: the people. Expo attendees cast their votes to name a single winner in the following categories: ready to drink, hot black tea, hot green tea, hot dark/pu-erh, hot herbal, foodservice iced tea, and single-serve hot tea.  And the winners are…

People voting on green teas at the World Tea Expo’s Winners Tasting Circle

People voting on green teas at the World Tea Expo’s Winners Tasting Circle, photo by Beth Dobos, via World Tea News



TRY MY T  www.trymyt.com

try my t

“A fresh brewed black tea with a unique blend of natural fruit juices, agave nectar and a hint of mint.”


 Lumbini Tea’s Sinharaja Wiry Tips (FBOPF* Extra Special) | www.lumbinitea.com

 Lumbini Tea's Sinharaja Wiry Tips

*Finest Broken Orange Pekoe Flowery


Sugimoto America’s Hoji Cha | sugimotousa.com/catalog.pdf

Sugimoto America's Hoji Cha


Glenburn Tea Direct’s Darjeeling Silver Needle | www.glenburnfinetea.com

Glenburn Tea Direct's Darjeeling Silver Needle

“Rare, delicate, creamy white tea made from only the young, tender buds.”


Dethlefsen & Balk, Inc.’s Pu Erh Pistachio | www.dethlefsen-balk.us

Dethlefsen & Balk, Inc.'s Pu Erh Pistachio


World Flavorz Spice & Tea Co.’s Lavender Peach | wholesale.worldflavorz.com

World Flavorz Spice & Tea Co.'s Lavender Peach

“Lavender Peace Tea is a really delicate tea that is extremely pleasurable to the palette. You taste the lavender with the rose in the background commingling with the peach to deliver such a delightful tea.”


Teasource LLC’s Minnesota N’Ice Tea | www.teasource.com

Teasource LLC's Minnesota N'Ice Tea

“It’s the perfect fishing buddy: sweet and silent. Tastes like oranges with a floral touch and pairs nicely with a cabin at the lake. Contains black tea, jasmine green tea, flavor, lemongrass, rose petals, cornflower.”


Zealong Tea Estate’s Zealong Black | zealong.com

Zealong Tea Estate's Zealong Black

“Enjoy the rich taste of Zealong Organic Black tea in a convenient way and treat yourself to a full-bodied, deep-amber liquor with a sweet, honeyed undertone and smooth, silky finish.”

Tea History & Culture

History 101: The Boston Tea Party

June 20, 2017

As you celebrate the 4th of July, take a few moments to think about how tea is responsible for the freedom you enjoy every day. We’re talking of course about The Boston Tea Party, an event that moved the American colonies one giant step toward revolution.

The year was 1773. Tea was extremely popular with American colonists. But what wasn’t so popular? Taxation without representation. Both the Stamp Act and the Townshend Act forced Americans to pay taxes to the British government on items such as paper, paint, glass, and tea without any voice in their own government.

In 1773, British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which granted the East India Company a monopoly on tea imports to America and reinforced the pre-existing tax on tea.

In December 1773, three boats containing East India Company tea docked in Boston’s Griffin Wharf. Angry Bostonians met to discuss the situation. Taxes on the tea were due within 20 days of the ships’ arrival. Paying the tax was out of the question for these fed-up colonists. Led by Sons of Liberty front man Samuel Adams, the riled up colonists at first attempted to peacefully and legally resolve the situation by getting the governor’s permission to send the ships back to Britain without paying for the tea. When that didn’t work, and with less than a day before the tax was due, it was time for a party:

On December 16, 1773, hundreds of colonists dressed in disguise as Mohawk Native Americans and descended on the three ships—the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor. Dressing as Native Americans had significance beyond disguise: it signaled to the British that they now identified as Americans, not as Brits.

In three hours, the protesters dumped 342 chests of tea into the water. Collectively, the chests contained about 90,000 pounds of tea—enough to fill 18.5 million tea bags— and their destruction amounted to a loss of about $1 million in today’s currency.

Boston Tea Party Painting

W.D. Cooper. “Boston Tea Party.”, The History of North America. London: E. Newbury, 1789

The Sons of Liberty instructed protestors not to destroy anything but the tea. Careful attention must be paid not to damage the ships themselves or to steal any of the tea—that would be off message.

When the British government got wind of the demonstration, they were incensed. So incensed that they punished Massachusetts with a series of acts known as The Intolerable Acts in 1774.

These acts instituted the following policies:

1) Boston’s port would remain closed until the East India Company was reimbursed for their losses in the Boston Tea Party.

2) The British government beefed up its control over Massachusetts’ governing bodies, replacing elected officials with royally appointed ones and taking away citizens’ right to assemble without the royal governor’s approval

3) British officials could no longer be tried in Massachusetts criminal courts

4) If asked, colonists would now have to house British troops in their homes

Massachusetts residents reacted to the Intolerable Acts with outrage.  But they’re weren’t alone: Other colonies expressed their fury, knowing that they could be next. Widespread concern over British control prompted representatives from the colonies to convene the first Continental Congress in early September of 1774. This congress would discuss ways to counter British tyranny, and ultimately declare American independence on July 4, 1776.

And over two centuries later, we can trace it all back to tea!

First Continental Congress

The First Continental Congress | John Trumbull [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tea History & Culture

How to Read Tea Leaves

June 14, 2017

You may be able to predict the future just by looking in your teacup.

That’s the idea being tea leaf reading, also known as tasseography or tasseomancy. Those fancy words come from the French word for cup—tasse—and the Greek suffixes graph and mancy, which mean writing and divination, respectively. According to tasseography, the tealeaves left over at the bottom of a teacup aren’t random. Rather, their shapes can be interpreted to predict one’s good or bad fortune.

People have been looking for ways to see into the future for centuries, with reports of fortune telling dating as far back as 4000 BCE.  Humans have attempted to predict the future by studying the stars, reading tarot cards, and peering into crystal balls.  The earliest book written in English on reading tea leaves hails from an 18th century Highland Seer, but tealeaf reading really took off in Victorian Great Britain (1837-1901). During this period of British world dominance, self-reflection became very trendy, in part thanks to the introspective work of psychologist Sigmund Freud, creating an environment in which reading tea leaves would be most appealing. As tea became popular with the British masses in the 19th century, they not only drank it enthusiastically, but also embraced reading tea leaves as an alternative method of divination to more painful and messy methods like haruspicy, carromancy, and molybdomancy, which used animal intestines, hot wax, and molten metal to predict the future, respectively.

During this period, an invitation to a tea party could mean not only a delicious brew of tea, but also a tea leaf reading, perhaps conducted by one of many gypsies (or Roma) who practiced the trade door-to-door in homes and tea parlors.

But just how did they do it?

Here’s the skinny, per the Tea Association of the USA, Inc.

Start with a cup of loose-leaf tea. After drinking the liquid, twirl your teacup in a clockwise circle very quickly three times. If there’s any liquid left over, turn the teacup upside down on a saucer and wait for all the liquid to drain away. The tea leaves should cling to the cup.

Next, you’ll analyze the tealeaves in your cup for any obvious symbols, keeping in mind that the rim of the cup indicates the present, the sides of the cup represent the near future, and the bottom of the cup represents the distant future.

What symbols should you look for?

Anchors, hearts, palm trees, and birds are just a few.

Check out this key from the Tea Association of the USA to see what these common symbols mean for your future:

Be on the lookout for letters in your teacup, too, which may indicate the first letter of the name of an important figure in your life.  Depending on how close the letter is to a particular symbol, this person may be a friend or a foe. For example, an “L” next to an owl might indicate that your new boss Larry will prove your financial downfall.  Or the letter “B” next to a heart may suggest that your boyfriend Barry is “the one.”  And remember, the closer to the rim the symbol, the sooner you’ll experience its meaning.

On a scale from Picasso to Annie Liebovitz, just how clear should these symbols be?

Here’s an example, also from the Tea Association of the USA:

Armed with this information, you’re set to host a tea reading for one, host your very own tea party with an added element of the occult, or seek out a professional tea leaf reader in your city.

Happy reading!

Tea History & Culture

The Rise of Tea Plants in the United States

April 25, 2017

For a long time, the Charleston Tea Plantation was the only commercial tea producer in the United States. But as Americans drink more tea, leaning into foreign flavors like matcha and trends like nitro tea, American farmers want to get in on the movement. And they’re doing so, according to NPR, who reports that the United States now has 60 producers growing tea in 15 states.

Minto Island Tea Company Farm

Tea grows at the Minto Island Tea Company’s farm in Salem, Oregon. | LINK

With many Americans wanting to “Buy American” and support their local economies, growing tea here in the United States made sense to farmers.

Tea grower Elizabeth Miller told NPR, “It’s the energy and enthusiasm from consumers that’s propelling us forward. People are really excited to have tea that is U.S. grown.”

As the number of tea growers increased, there was enough demand to from The United States League of Tea Growers, which strives to connect US tea growers and promote the industry by sharing knowledge and launching initiatives like tea-based agri-tourism.

And tea plants aren’t just growing in the south, like you might expect, where a mild climate with sufficient rain makes growing camellia sinensis most auspicious. Rather, farmers in northern states like Michigan and Oregon are starting tea farms as well.

Here is a list of American tea farms to consider supporting:

Minto Island Growers | Salem, Oregon | www.mintoislandtea.com

The Minto Island Growers have been planting camellia sinensis since 1988. Their teas are certified organic, handpicked, and harvested in small-batches. The farmers grow green, oolong, and black teas.

The Great Mississippi Tea Company | Brookhaven, Mississippi | www.greatmsteacompany.com

The Great Mississippi Tea Company strives to be an example of fair labor and environmental practices. The company began by planting 30,000 tea plants on 5 acres of land in 2014.

Table Rock Tea Company | Pickens, South Carolina | http://www.tablerocktea.com

This South Carolina tea grower got things started with just 400 tea plants in 2009, but has much bigger plans: The company planted 7,000 tea plants last year, and plans to add 17,500 plants per year for the next few years. The company’s products include Jacked Black Original Black Tea and Hillbilly Yaupon. Table Rock was a 2016 finalist for the “Best Tea Brand” award at the World Tea Awards. 10% of all sales go to charity.

Piedmont Tea Company | Athens, Georgia | www.piedmonttea.com

This new, organic tea company launched in 2014 under Tygh Walters, who also serves as the President of the US League of Tea Growers

Sakuma Brothers Premium Teas | Skagit Valley, Washington | http://sakumamarketstand.com

Brothers Richard and Steve Sakuma decided to add tea plants to their berry farm in Washington in 2007. They planted tea over five acres, and have had their fair share of struggles planting tea in the cold Washington weather. Teas from the brothers have included green and oolong.


Since tea plants take three years to mature to the point that they can be harvested, we have not yet seen the fruits of many new producers’ labor. But as farmers get on the tea train, we’re sure to see more and more American-made tea products on the market in the coming years.


Tea History & Culture

Repurpose Your Teacups With These DIY Crafts

March 15, 2017

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you own a lot of teacups. And saucers. And teapots. If you’re looking for a crafty way to create more shelf space, consider lending a spare teacup or accessory to one of these DIY projects. From decorative accents to functional household goods, your teaware can do a lot more than just hold your favorite beverage, and each of these projects make great gifts. So break out your glue gun and roll up your sleeves for a little art therapy:

1) Teacup Planters

Teacup Planters

These DIY teacup planters from actress Eva Martino are an incredibly easy way to beautify your small house plants. Simply transfer your plant from its pot into a teacup or teapot, add rocks or Styrofoam to fill in any gaps, and water it according to its directions. The project will only take you about 10 minutes, but will nurture your plants’ growth for weeks and weeks.

2) Teapot Lamp

Teapot Lamp

This project from Country Living brings together an array of teaware to create a beautiful, unique lamp. Select your materials, and then fill the smallest among them with self-hardening clay. While the clay is still wet, insert a socket-and-cord unit. Once it’s dried, super glue your teapots, saucers, and cups together from largest to smallest, finishing with your teacup containing the socket-and-cord unit. Attach a shade to the top, add a bulb, and let there be light.

3) Teacup Vase

Teacup Vase

This teacup vase from Jennifer Rizzo couldn’t be easier. Simply find two teacups without any cracks, turn one upside down, and glue the bottoms together. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you use at least one tall mug. Add flowers and water for an funky centerpiece.

4) Teacup Candles

Teacup Candles

This guide to making your own teacup candles comes from Inhabitat. Simply pour wax, dye, and scented oil into a teacup to create a special candle. Afterwards, enjoy your after-dinner tea by candlelight.

5) Teacup and Saucer Ring

Teacup and Saucer Ring

If you love tea so much that you want to wear it on your finger, this adorable teacup ring is for you. Purchase a porcelain doll tea set (or steal one from your kid) and glue the tiny cup and saucer together. Then glue the toy unit to a ring base.  All that’s left is to flash the cutest piece of jewelry in the world all over town.

6) Teacup Wine Glasses

Teacup Wine Glasses

Do you like wine, but love tea? Get the point across with these teacup wine glasses from Country Living. Glue the stem of a wine glass to the bottom of a teacup to create class and interest at your dinner party table setting.

7) Teacup and Saucer Bird Feeder 

Teacup and Saucer Bird Feeder

This snazzy bird feeder from Practically Functional is a cute way to attract feathered friends to your backyard. Glue a teacup to a saucer at a ninety degree angle, so that the birdseed will look like it’s spilling out. Tie the cup and saucer to a tree or bird feeder hanger with twine, and prepare for chirping.

Tea History & Culture

Tea Smugglers: 18th Century Bad Boys

January 31, 2017

It’s very easy to get a cup of tea in England. But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1700s, tea was so expensive that only aristocrats could afford it. Prices ran so steep thanks to an exorbitant government tax on the import and the East India Company’s monopoly on the good. The EIC could charge high prices, the government could stick a giant tax on top, and people who wanted tea were forced to shell out top dollar, making the import a luxury item that only elite citizens could afford. But the lower classes needed their fix, too. To their rescue came a band of heroes: tea smugglers.

These smugglers transported non-EIC tea across the seas but didn’t pass through customs, avoiding the tax. At first, tea smugglers sold reduced-price tea to personal contacts near the coasts. But soon, tea smuggling became a sophisticated operation with large, armed ships dropping anchor before tea would be transported farther and farther inland.

Tea smugglers enjoyed popular support in Great Britain for a number of reasons. First, the covert industry supplied jobs. Second, people loved to drink tea. And third, the British were fed up with taxes. As the 1790 cartoon below illustrates, British citizens felt heavily burdened by taxes, and circumventing the sky-high tea tax was one way to stick it to the man.

But when a prominent group of smugglers known as the Hawkhurt Gang got violent, the public began to turn against them:

In 1747, the government seized one of the Hawkhurt Gang’s illegal shipments. The gang responded by raiding the customs house in Poole where their goods were being stored, as depicted below:

The government learned that one of the locals who witnessed the ordeal, shoemaker Daniel Chater, had worked on a farm alongside Hawkhurt gangster Joe Diamond in the past. When the government arrested Diamond in Chichester months later, they needed someone to confirm Diamond’s identity, and summoned Chater. Chater and a customs officer started their journey to Chicester, but never made it. Along the way, tea smugglers barbarically tortured and killed them.

The brutal murders of Chater and the customs officer incited public outcry and a swift government response. The government issued rewards for gang members and many faced arrest or execution.

Still, tea smuggling continued for another forty years, thanks to the nation’s insatiable thirst for tea.

In 1783, the government conducted a study that found 13 million pounds of tea were consumed in England each year, but that only 6 million had been imported by the East India Company—the only company that could legally bring tea into the country. That meant that most of the tea in England was coming from smugglers. Something had to be done.

And so, the very next year, Parliament introduced the Commutation Act of 1784.

The Act reduced the tax on tea from 119% to 12.5%. Smugglers could no longer offer a better price for the same good, so they became obsolete.

And so ended a century of covert tea operations, and the beginning of accessible, enthusiastic tea drinking that continues today.

Tea History & Culture

How Taking Tea Sans Sugar Meant Opposing Slavery

January 26, 2017

Today, sprinkling a spoonful of sugar into your tea doesn’t say much about your views on human trafficking. But in the late 18th century in England, it did.

In 1791, about 400,000 Brits boycotted slave-made sugar from the West Indies as a protest against slavery and Great Britain’s failure to pass a bill abolishing the slave trade. Drinking tea was a hugely important social custom in England, and with the sugar boycott, it became a political one. As NPR put it, the sweet condiment “came to epitomize the evils of slavery.”

Great Britain benefitted economically from slavery, with slaves on plantations in the West Indies pumping out valuable trading goods like sugar, which also drove consumerism in England. The Empire also profited from the slave trade, trafficking more than 3 million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean between 1700 and 1810.

To abolitionists, this was morally abhorrent and had to end.  The sugar boycott provided the average British citizen with one way to not only advocate for the end of slavery, but to put a dent in the economic influence that slavery had on their Empire.

Printer William Fox started the boycott by publishing a pamphlet titled An Address to the People of Great Britain on the Utility of Refraining from the Use of West India Sugar and Rum.

That long titled boiled down to one main takeaway: every time you add sugar to your tea, you’re supporting slave labor. For those against slavery, opting out of sugar was a simple way to communicate a political and moral position on the hotly debated issue. Fox’s pamphlet surpassed Thomas Paine’s American Revolution-inspiring Common Sense as the most distributed pamphlet of the century.

According to the BBC, the boycott certainly made an impact: sugar sales plummeted by a third to a half, and hundreds of thousands signed petitions calling on the British Empire to outlaw the slave trade. As BBC put it, the boycott “is one of the earliest examples of consumers using their purchasing power to reject the trade in goods which have not been ethically produced.”

To meet tea-drinkers’ sugar fix, grocers started stocking sugar from the East Indies, where sugar production didn’t rely on slave labor.

At home, people made sure to let their tea party guests know where their sugar came from. Sugar bowls like the one below added the label “not made by slave labor” to assuage guests’ concerns about a host’s ethical or political stance.

Today, Fair Trade, non-GMO Project, or Organic labels aim to both help consumers make informed choices and communicate those choices to others.

Some British citizens responded to the sugar boycott by switching to green tea, a beverage that didn’t call for sugar the same way black tea might to some palettes.

The sugar boycott lost its mojo as time went on—particularly as Brits saw the violence endured by French citizens for resisted the monarchy—but Great Britain did eventually abolish the trade of slaves in the British Empire in 1807. To incentivize Brits to follow the new law, the government threatened to fine ship owners a steep £100 for every slave found on British ships. Although the slave trade was now illegal, slavery itself remained legal 1833, when the British Empire abolished the practice in all its territories.

Be aware of what you put in your tea cup.  As history has proven, it may have a large impact.

Tea History & Culture

Artwork Every Tea Lover Should Know

January 11, 2017

To the avid tea-drinker, your cup of tea may be a personal work of art.  Maybe the sunlight hits your saucer just right in the morning, or perhaps the clinking of the teaspoon in your mug is the perfect aria in your quiet house at the end of a long day.  Well, to the world’s most famous artists, tea has proven a worthy subject again and again.  As a political commodity, economic link, and social lubricant, tea has always been so much more than just a beverage.  How fitting, then, that it provide inspiration to prolific painters and sculptors throughout history.  Here are three of our favorite works of art starring the world’s most consumed beverage:

1) Le Gouter (or Tea Time or Woman With a Teaspoon)

Jean Metzinger, 1911

Known as “The Mona Lisa of Cubism,” this 1911 oil painting on cardboard hails from French artist Jean Metzinger. It depicts a naked woman holding a teaspoon above her teacup. Metzinger is a prominent name in the cubist movement. He co-wrote Du Cubisme with Albert Gleizes, a theoretical book on cubism, and ran in the same circles as Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, and notable influence Pablo Picasso. You can visit this painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

2) Object (or Luncheon in Fur)

Meret Oppenheim, 1936

23-year-old Swiss artist Meret Oppenheimer created this gazelle fur-covered teacup, spoon, and saucer in 1936. She decorated the teacup after a conversation with Pablo Picasso at a Parisian café during which Picasso commented on her fur-covered bracelet. She offhandedly said that you could cover any ordinary object with fur and turn it into a work of art, even the plain tea cup in front of her. After the rendezvous, she did just that. The work became a major hallmark of the surrealist movement, a movement defined by the unity of the conscious and unconscious worlds, where the sense of the rational world meets the irrationality of the dream world. Surrealism founder Andre Breton featured the piece in a surrealist exhibit of objects, where, according to NPR, it evoked a plethora of contradictory reactions:

“This being the age of Freud, a gastro-sexual interpretation was inescapable: the spoon was phallic, the cup vaginal, the hair pubic. For some, the tongue-shaped spoon brought to mind unpleasant sensations of a furry tongue. Others experienced unease at seeing a graceful item of the tea table transformed into something decadent and animalistic; some gagged at the thought of getting a hair or damp tea leaves in their mouth; still others wanted to stroke it.”

To some, covering an object associated with femininity with something as masculine as an animal pelt sexualized it. You can visit this teacup see if you agree at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

3) The Tea Cup

Jackson Pollack, 1946

When you think of Jackson Pollack, you probably think of his famous “drip” paintings, made by pouring paint on canvas. But after his drip period, Pollack launched into a figurative period during which he painted more recognizable people and shapes. The Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland debuted a show called “The Fugurative Pollack” last year that included this 1946 painting, “The Tea Cup.” Can you spot it?

Tea History & Culture

Tea Trends for 2017

January 3, 2017

This year, tea’s not just here to stay—it’s poised to rise. According to MarketWatch, the global tea market will grow by 6.88 billion from 14.45 billion at the end of 2016 to 21.33 billion in 2024. Louise Pollock, the President of food, health, and wellness PR firm Pollock Communications, told Beverage Daily, “The beverage category has grown exponentially and tea is set to experience a lot of growth moving into 2017 and 2018.” But what exactly can we expect from the tea industry this year? We noticed a few prominent trends you can look forward to this year:

1) Green Tea

After surveying 1700 registered dieticians, Pollock Communications named green tea one of the Top Ten Superfoods of 2017. As busy Americans look for beverages on the go that are both convenient and healthy, look out for more bottled green teas. In addition to green teas, Pollock Communications expects teas made with whole leaves and natural ingredients to rise, thanks to our increasingly health-conscious population.

2) Matcha 

According to Datassential, matcha grew by 50% in the US from 2010 to 2015, and multiple sources say it will continue to rise in availability and popularity in the coming years. In 2015, just 1% of non-alcoholic beverage menus included matcha, so it’s still in its early stage of consumer awareness and demand, but get ready to watch that number climb. Matcha most commonly appears on menus as a tea or in blended beverages, but it’s also a great ingredient in baking, as we illustrated with White Chocolate Matcha Brownies. So look out for this green powder on dessert menus or in the grocery aisle to make your own tea-infused baked goods.

3) Tea on Tap

Restaurants want to make it easy to deliver you a new, exciting product. FoodBytes says, “Suddenly everything is on tap—wine, cocktails, nitro and cold brew coffee, kombucha, on-tred spirits like amaro.” That’s right: this year we predict you’ll see kombucha and other teas on tap with greater frequency. It’s part of a larger trend you’ll see in 2017: packaging and formatting that makes tea even easier to grab in a restaurant or on the go. From eateries that have self-serving taps at your table to coffee shops, movie theaters, and supermarkets offering exotic bottled teas, 2017 will see more grab ‘n sip options than ever before.

4) More, More, More

Tea trends from the last several years will drive the growth of tea consumption at home, at restaurants, and on the go in 2017. We’ll continue to see teas blending herbs and spices to deliver exotic and flavorful beverages, lesser-known leaves like oolong and rooibos sharing shelf space with black and green teas, tea dishes incorporating on-trend flavors like cateja, tea-infused cocktails, coffee-inspired teas (i.e. a green tea latte or mocha), ingredients like berries and fruit replacing milk and sugar as co-stars in every cup, and the strong performance of iced tea—85% of tea consumption in the USA is iced, per the Tea Association of the United States. These trends are far from over, and we’ll continue to see them grow this year. 

Whatever way you pour it, the teacup is looking half full for 2017!