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Tea Industry Product Trends
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by Gail Gastelu

Tea plays a major role in providing relaxation, comfort, and refreshment. Savvy innkeepers know how to use tea products and special tea times to pamper guests. This month we take a look at some product trends in the tea industry and some products of particular interest to innkeepers.

Earlier this year, organizers of World Tea Expo, the largest and most prominent B2B event for the industry, pinpointed six key tea trends for 2012. These include: quality tea, growth in tea retail, cold brew green tea, green tea popularity, Matcha lattes and tea-enhancing wares. Organizers host a new product competition each year and many of the new products follow these trends. World Tea Expo, which covers the latest developments, took place June 1-3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and their east coast event, World Tea East, takes place October 2-3 in Philadelphia, PA ~ you are welcome to look me up at either event to chat about tea.

Green tea has become more popular not only for its healthy aspects, but because more people are learning how to properly brew it. Brewed properly, it is a very enjoyable beverage, but if it is prepared with too hot water, it is ruined. Quality loose leaf teas are moving ahead as the public becomes more aware of the vast array of taste profiles found in loose leaf teas from around the world. Consumer demand has led suppliers to focus on quality more deeply as competition grows and consumers begin to request organic teas as well.

And, of course, tea-enhancing tea wares are all the rage. Tea lovers want to enjoy tea by using tea wares to enhance the experience and not detract from flavor. From teapots to teacups, each tea may be enjoyed in something unique and special to the consumer. Glass teapots and teacups are particularly nice for enjoying a flowering/blooming tea or for those who simply enjoy the beauty of a loose leaf tea as it dances in the cup.

Another trend that has continued for a few years now is tea as an ingredient in recipes or in products you might not expect; such as perfumes, soaps, other foods, snacks, drinks, as an ingredient in cooking, etc.

A new product on offer at the World Tea Expo this year has caught my eye specifically for innkeepers. A therapy line; sampler pack of body lotion, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and green tea soap, offered by Glenburn Tea Direct, known for their beautiful tea plantation and pampering of guests on the grounds of their estate. The sampler pack is available in a brocade or organza bag or small wicker basket.

Another company, Chado-en, offers a Stay Beautiful Spa Kit which includes green tea, expanding facial cloth/masks, tea spritzer bottle, strainer, teapots and cup. Tea is wonderful for the skin and this kit makes it so easy to pamper yourself.

Tea and tea ware trends offer convenience and beauty. Loose leaf teas may be found in pyramid sachets to make brewing easy and convenient for those not accustomed to other steeping, straining, or decanting methods. At my Tea Course continuing education site, I recently featured an article on the Pyramid Teabag Revolution by Sachen Verma, Sr. Vice President - Marketingat JV Gokal & Co Pvt Ltd(private label packers of pyramid nylon teabags). An excerpt follows:

The pyramid revolution started when Brooke Bond launched its paper pyramids. Brooke Bond said, at the time, that it "had proved that its pyramid bags brewed tea to the peak of perfection.” The three dimensional pyramid has now been taken to the next stage of style and sophistication, so that the consumer can have a teabag filled with a quality large leaf tea, herb, flower or fruit, and can actually see what’s in the bag. So even those tea drinkers who demand the best and want to enjoy the visual appeal of the tea can also now indulge in the sheer convenience of the bag. The hottest trend in teabags of the moment - pyramid shapes are made with silky, food-grade nylon materials, with no glue or staples, and filled with whole leaf tea, fruit, flowers and herbs.

Water, coffee, and tea are always readily available for self-service by inn guests. Special attention is also given to tea for just about any occasion you can think of. Innkeepers have a particular advantage since inns are lovely places for weddings, showers, and other events. All of which can be used to incorporate a more complete afternoon tea service. You may use tea wares most fitting to your décor, or offer a variety of tea wares from which guests may choose. Some inns keep cabinets full of mismatched teapots and teacups and invite guests to make use of them. It might be fun to choose a different teapot on each day of their stay.

As you consider trends in tea and how to apply them, keep a few things in mind: beauty, quality, convenience, and enjoyment. Use tea preparation, tea wares, tea drinking, and afternoon tea times to enhance the experience of your guests by creating special, memorable moments at your inn.

If you would like to submit questions, contact Gail directly by email at info@theteahousetimes.com



Gail Gastelu specializes in information management and is currently working within the tea industry to educate and connect businesses and consumers through tea. Gail has been publishing The Tea House Times since 2003. She also produces Tea Course continuing education, a Tea Bureau resource directory, and other services to the industry. See GailGastelu.com or TheTeaHouseTimes.com for more information.

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