Get to Know These Six On-Trend Specialty Teas
From cold brew to kombucha, the tea category has certainly expanded in recent years to satisfy consumers thirsty for innovation and creativity in the category. Tea is the perfect solution for consumers looking for healthy options and occasional indulgence. As more consumers turn to specialty tea as their beverage of choice, you’ll want to review your offerings and update as necessary.
Want to elevate your tea program, but don’t know where to start? Check out these six on-trend teas that are taking the beverage industry by storm.
Cold Brew Tea
There’s a reason cold brew is so popular right now. The cold brew process allows the tea to slowly steep in room-temperature water, gently releasing the nutrients, antioxidants and clean tea flavor. Unlike hot brewed tea that can sometimes leave a bitter aftertaste, cold brew tea has a balanced, full-bodied flavor. The smooth taste and natural qualities appeal to consumers who crave caffeine, flavor and something cold.
Nitro tea is the next wave for the tea category. Incorporating a keg, tap and the addition of nitrogen provides a unique tea experience. Imagine a freshly poured glass of Guinness—rich and creamy with a foamy top. Nitro tea is essentially the same thing. The nitrogen adds tiny bubbles and creates a creamy mouthfeel. The nitrogen also removes any bitterness from the tea. The result is a clean, flavorful tea with a rich, silky texture.
While tea is naturally rich in antioxidants and has always been considered a healthy drink, today it’s getting a nutrient-rich boost from spices, herbs, botanicals and other functional ingredients. Superfood powders like turmeric, spirulina, maca and adaptogens—each touting a different nutrient superpower—are being blended into tea drinks to satisfy consumers seeking the latest health elixir. As the health-and-wellness industry continues to expand, consumers will seek out elevated tea offerings with functional attributes.
When it comes to functional teas, kombucha is considered to be the fastest-growing segment in the global functional beverage industry with sales estimates of $1.8 billion by 2020.1 Kombucha, an effervescent probiotic-rich fermented tea, has exploded in popularity as both a ready-to-drink pre-bottled and an on-tap functional beverage. Kombucha starts as black tea and sugar that is then fermented by bacteria and yeast known as a “SCOBY” (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). The probiotic-rich drink is prized for its numerous benefits, including gut health.
Cheese tea is a craze that originated out of Taiwan and has seen skyrocketing success across Asia.
It’s essentially an iced tea—traditionally jasmine, oolong or green—which is then topped with a fluffy cloud of creamy cheese. The cheese component of the recipe is similar to a cheesecake batter and consists of cream cheese, sugar, dairy and Himalayan salt, which is whipped until aerated, resulting in a light and decadent topping. Purists believe it should be imbibed at a 45-degree angle to get a sampling of both the tea and cream while leaving the consumer with a fun “cheesestache.”
While boba, aka bubble tea, has been around since the ’90s, it’s recently seen a resurgence in popularity. This may be due in part to the current buzz around drinks like cheese tea and ube lattes, which also originated in Asian countries. Boba is simply iced tea with soft, chewy tapioca balls. Since becoming mainstream, there are now special cups and wide straws made specifically for boba tea. There are even syrup and tea dispensers available that allow consumers to customize sweetness and milk levels.
Whether sourcing cold brew tea from a supplier or choosing to blend up your own signature functional tea drinks, tea is a menu must-have. The healthy halo and menu versatility of tea can help expand your beverage program and drive sales.
1 Troitino, Christina, “Kombucha 101: Demystifying The Past, Present And Future Of The Fermented Tea Drink,” Forbes, Feb. 1, 2017