Afternoon Tea research reveals growing love for speciality teas

Image:  Nejron Photo  (Shutterstock)

Image: Nejron Photo (Shutterstock)

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New research from Mintel suggests that a key area of growth for the food and drink industry in 2017 could lie in that most humble of beverages: tea. The drink that has come to be considered quintessentially British, despite its South Asian origins, has been part of many consumers’ daily routine for decades, and is a mainstay of most hotels and cafes. However, Mintel’s recent findings suggest that bars and restaurants must make tea a priority if they are to compete on the beverage front this year.

According to Mintel’s Pub Catering Report, only 9 per cent of UK consumers visit pubs for tea or coffee and cake compared to a more sizeable 29 per cent who visited solely to enjoy a hot drink. However, despite the growing demand for hot drinks in evening venues, pubs are falling behind in offering options for consumers’ desires.

Mintel have also found that consumers in the younger age demographic could be attracted to pubs and restaurants by the presence of speciality teas. UK consumers aged 25 to 34 were found to be twice as likely to drink varied flavours of tea to those over the age of 55. 49 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds drink green tea and fruit teas compared to just approximately 20 per cent of over 55s.

Richard Caines, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, told Big Hospitality:

“Tea brands need to increase the appeal of their products to 16 to 34 year olds who drink standard black tea less frequently. One way of encouraging more tea drinking among younger consumers is with more choices of flavours and indulgent varieties.”

Following the customary January health kick, the interest in speciality and health teas is set to only increase. Particularly in response to customers embarking on ‘dry January’ who may still wish to visit pubs with friends, it is integral that pubs cater to the diverse needs of consumers when it comes to the hot drink. Simply offering builder’s tea to enquiring customers is no longer enough – pubs, restaurants and cafes alike must offer various forms of tea, and must advertise it as an enticing option throughout the day and night.

According to Mintel, the numbers of consumers who visit pubs and restaurants for hot drinks could be fortified by establishments offering afternoon tea services. Afternoon tea is a constantly-growing trend, and consumers are looking for creative and indulgent options within a traditional framework. Caines says, “Making items like cakes, biscuits or sweet pastries visible at the bar during the quieter afternoon period” is a worthwhile venture, which would help to transform the ‘graveyard shift’ in the mid-afternoon into a time perfect for walkers and groups on days out looking for refreshment.

As 2016 was perhaps the year of matcha tea, it is clear that millennials and style-savvy consumers are looking for unusual flavour combinations and ingredients even in tea, which was once considered a most traditional beverage. To attract tea drinkers, food and drink businesses must approach tea as an experience, offering as many variations as they do cocktails. Where cocktails are aesthetically intriguing to consumers due to the spectacle of the bartending process, speciality teas can provide an interactive experience that truly immerses the customer. Consider loose leaf tea which customers can brew themselves, or even unique experiences such as flowering tea, which blooms within glass teapots before the customer’s eyes, unleashing a world of wonder and flavour. 

Whether or not hot drinks are your ‘cup of tea’ there is no avoiding the fact that this beverage is seeing a redefinition and a resurgence for 2017.