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8 dominant trends that are expected to dictate the tea sector this year

SOME tea drinks enjoy cult status. Picture: Pexels/Mareefe

SOME tea drinks enjoy cult status. Picture: Pexels/Mareefe

Published Feb 14, 2022


Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide, following only water. Some tea drinks are even enjoying cult status.

Many nations have their own distinct tea creations and culture, which in some cases has been developed over many generations.

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However, young adults, in particular, are no longer content with just the traditional approach to tea. They are after new types of tea experiences – ones that ideally combine interesting taste sensations with functional benefits.

Speaking of new types of tea experiences, among the biggest food and drink predictions recently announced by social media network, Pinterest, “afternoon tea” is to become the new happy hour.

Their predictions were based on the interests of their 444 million users worldwide with many choosing tea with a friend over drinks after work.

Nicie Vorster, a director of the South African Rooibos Council says online searches for healthy teas, tea pairings, parties, and the like have been spiking across age groups, which is good news for the local tea industry.

Below Vorster outlines some of the dominant trends that are expected to dictate the tea sector this year.

Some tea drinks are even enjoying cult status. Picture: Supplied

Adaptogenic teas (wellness tea)

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An adaptogen is a plant extract that is believed to increase the body’s ability to fight the damaging effects of stress and inflammation and promote normal physiological functioning. Many consumers are adding complex herbal blends to their tea, like chamomile, ginger, turmeric, and ginseng to further enhance the health benefits of the teas they drink.


Personalisation is huge, especially with customer tastes becoming more discerning. Being able to design your own tea by mixing different flavours for a unique taste and further personalising it by giving it a name, enables individuals to express themselves while satisfying their taste buds.

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Customisation is a trend in consumer preferences that is sure to gain further prominence this year, especially among millennials – the fastest-growing demographic worldwide.

Ready to drink (RTD) teas

RTD teas are gaining in popularity and are seen as healthier alternatives to canned or bottled fizzy drinks. Watch this space as marketers launch a greater variety of cold teas to choose from in the short-to-medium term.

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Tea experiences

Tea lovers will seek out restaurants and cafés that have an extensive tea menu rather than the standard one or two options. Many enjoy brewing loose leaf tea and will search for the same immersive experience at an eatery where they can indulge in unique blends and flavours.

The emergence of tea pairing menus, as you would pair wine with different dishes, will also become more prominent and will attract new customers looking for a sensory experience.


A few years ago the tea subscription business model was mostly niche, but the pandemic jolted consumers out of routine purchase behaviours, propelling online sales and home delivery. The model involves ordering tea in a variety of forms ranging from RTDs to a curated box of tea bags or loose leaf tea on a monthly or more regular basis directly to your door.

Tea subscriptions are becoming more prevalent and it’s also a great way to retain and cultivate customer loyalty, which will become more critical in a competitive space.

Tea cocktails and mocktails

With the sober curious trend taking off and fewer people drinking alcohol during a night out, tea-based drinks are becoming a staple in trendy bars and pubs worldwide. Tea makes for an ideal base ingredient and offers a much greater variety of options when it comes to mixing alcoholic and even non-alcoholic drinks. It also adds a different dimension to many favourite cocktail formats.


Speciality and novelty teas are also becoming a popular gifting option this year. Tea is no longer a simple grocery item. High-quality, premium tea has become a thing of sophisticated consumption. Much like aficionados will go to the ends of the earth to search for gourmet quality coffee, tea will follow in the same path.

Especially younger consumers who are eager to try new tea varieties and different brewing techniques. The trend is likely to boost sales of teaware and accessories, such as infusers and strainers, along with gourmet teas and customised blends in fancy packaging – ideal for gifting.

Certification and traceability

Certified sustainable tea is a must for a growing number of consumers for whom ethical tea sourcing, traceability, and environmental sustainability are important. It’s also becoming a priority for the industry at large. Certified tea sales grew by 49% over the last few years and include tea with Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certification, as well as organic and Fairtrade accreditation.

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