It’s tea time, with the World Tea Expo set to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center on June 1-3. If your restaurant has tea-loving customers, you’ll want to take note of a half-dozen tea trends the event organizers have identified for 2012. As you might expect, quality, availability, convenience, increasingly knowledgeable consumers and presentation all come into play. Tea enjoys a healthy halo, and tea retail market growth is projected to grow from 6.6 percent this year to 8.7 percent by 2014, to reach an estimated $8.3 billion. Here are the year’s six tea trends to watch.
1. Quality tea is on the rise as consumers become better educated about tea and improve their palates.
2. Tea retail continues its upward trend. Currently, there are 3,500 retail tea locations in the U.S., compared with more than 25,000 coffeehouses.
3. Green tea is growing in popularity. According to Tea and Ready-to-Drink Tea in the U.S., 4th Edition, a study from Packaged Facts, green tea is the number one specialty tea product that customers choose at restaurants and retail establishments.
4. Tea ware enhances the tea-drinking experience. Just as quality glassware helped boost the restaurant wine experience, contemporary ceramic tea ware can elevate the tea experience.
5. Cold-brew green tea is catching on because it removes the worry about over-steeping or incorrect water temperatures that alter the flavor of the tea.
6. Matcha lattes (real ones) are expected to grow in popularity. Higher quality Japanese Matcha blends are reportedly popular already in Canadian foodservice operations. Matcha lattes—made with the brightly colored green powdered tea—require no additional equipment and offer taste and nutritional benefits that consumers should appreciate.