Mulled wine, orange pekoe, chocolate– it is very unusual for the quintessential Indian to associate their tea or chai with these flavors. Tea for most of us is still the ubiquitous milk and sugar variant. However, the beverage that forms a connect between Indians has now evolved and taken on newer avatars. India is one of the largest producers of tea globally, housing renowned plantations such as those in Assam and Darjeeling. As per a recent report, the Indian tea industry is set to reach USD 1 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% over the forecast period (2017-2025).
The production of tea depends on certain factors which align well for India. Apart from this, in the last few decades, especially after the globalization of economy and the willingness to experiment with different varieties has made people consume more other tea variants. This has been a crucial driver in the increasing production and demand for tea. Another major boost has been the awareness of health benefits of certain tea variants such as mint, tulsi, lime/lemon, and classic green tea. Apart from aiding weight loss and managing diabetes, these teas can also boost immunity. Irrespective of the variety of tea, all of them have ample presence of flavonoids, and provide genuine health benefits. No wonder black tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water. Tea has antioxidants that in tandem with phytochemicals curb inflammation, irregular cell development, and slow down the aging process.
Consumers are exploring tea both hot and iced as a food ingredient, and an alternate healthy option to sugary mixers and sodas in bars and cafés. It is becoming a lifestyle drink and there is an acknowledgement of this phenomenon due to which increased awareness several trends have emerged in the country. A visit to any supermarket will tell you how many tea variants are available now! Exotic and premium teas such as oolongs and flower teas to chamomiles and premium Darjeeling varieties, the choices are immense. And the reach is not limited to this. Tea has made its way to fine dining, e-commerce, coffee chains, and gifting as well!
These are the next big thing. Several branded tea cafes are already operating in the country and more are setting shop. These cafes offer a variety of exotic and gourmet teas. They are making a headway into the territory otherwise marked by coffee chains and providing a holistic high tea experience.
Gourmet, exotic teas, and artisanal teas
Millennial tea lovers are not content merely with the regular hot tea, green or iced tea. They aspire to go beyond and explore the beverage as a treasure of taste and fragrances. Teas merged with fruits, aromatic flowers and other products, presented in a novel way are now finding their way into the Indian pop culture. Today, tea has become synonymous with terms like hand-blended, artisanal, or exotic flavored. This is due to a shift in thought processes and people have increasingly begun to consider tea as a lifestyle and contemporary beverage.
Artisanal tea is available in several variants, with handcrafted blends and exotic ingredients. It not only excels in terms of the quality and taste but also gives consumers a new experience. The best part is that artisanal teas are being sourced and crafted in India in small batches that offer exclusivity of flavors. People especially those in the metros, are becoming more aware of tea flavors, the ingredients, and their benefits.
Tea as a gift
Given that there is a tea for every occasion, every part of the day and every emotion, we bond over it and celebrate with it. While the traditional boxes of sweets, dry fruits and other things are still in vogue for celebrations and gifts, people are increasingly trying out something new and different. A collection of gourmet or premium teas can make wedding invitation cards stand out and be that perfect accessory to other occasions as well.
The demand for tea is growing slowly but steadily. The market share will increase further as tastes and preferences evolve. As younger and new-age consumers explore new tastes and healthy brews, look for convenience and exotic varieties, brands will emerge to cater to this demand. There are already several homegrown and international brands introducing varieties of tea blends with taste variations. There is also a need to encourage innovation in this sector and leverage the power of tech to reach more consumers. With several boutique brands emerging in the market, there will be good growth in the coming years.
Ambarish Ghosh, Founder and Director, The Hillcart Tales