Tea Biz Podcast | Episode 2

Tea Industry News for the week of January 29 | DAVIDsTEA Turnaround | Condition Specific Blends | Canadian Tea Sales Slow

Listen to the Podcast for the week of January 29

Here are the News Headlines

• Montreal-based DAVIDsTEA is undergoing a remarkable transformation
• Tea companies report strong sales and many new functional, and condition-specific teas
• Britons increased their tea intake 27 percent – dunking 61 billion tea bags in 2020
• Tea sales slow in Canada following a spring sprint


This week we travel to Malawi, Africa where industry veteran Ranjit Dasgupta talks with Honorary Consul Jordan Price about a tea growing region gaining a reputation for producing innovative and sustainable specialty tea

Ranjit Dasgupta interviews Jordan Price, Malawi’s Honorary Consul to the US

… and to the Nilgiri Mountains in South India where Aravinda Anantharaman reports that hundreds of small growers in 100-member “farm producer groups” are collectively learning how to transition from fertilizer- and pesticide-dependent land practices to the organic cultivation of tea.

Aravinda Anantharaman reports…

News you Need to Know

Sarah Segal began the New Year as CEO of DAVIDsTEA

The Montreal-based brick-and-mortar retailer is undergoing a remarkable transformation. The firm, which operated more than 200 retail locations in the US and Canada until last March was forced to declare bankruptcy, closing 166 locations, leaving only 18 mall and suburban storefronts. The situation looked dire — but within three months the business had returned to profitability —and in its most recent financial disclosures Segal pointed to– a 145 percent increase to $22 million in tea sales online and in grocery – up from $9 million during the same period the previous year. Segal said it is her goal to “solidify our position as a digital-first, industry-leading provider of on-trend, high-quality loose-leaf tea, tea accessories, and gifts.”

Biz Insight – Financial analysts praised the company’s “asset-light” business model, estimating that the combination of labor savings, minimal rent, and reduced overhead multiplied cash flow by 15 times. Segal promised investors that DAVIDsTEA “is on a new path, squarely focused on becoming a more agile organization.”

Innovation Driven by Pandemic

COVID has made consumers recognize that WELL BEING is a vital concern. Tea companies report strong sales and many line extensions for functional, and condition-specific teas. This week Celestial Seasonings Tea announced an expansion of its TeaWell line with Mood Tonic, Laxative, and Gut Health teas. Brands introducing new teas include Tata Tea’s immunity-boosting Tetley Green Tea with vitamin c, TAZO’s Calm in 42oz bottles; new Ayurvedics from India’s Teamonk. and a vegan double spice chai from STASH Tea. Researchers in Singapore recently announced probiotics that can be added to any tea which is then left to ferment for two days – retaining the original flavor — enhanced with fruity and floral notes and a faint acidity.

Market research firm Mintel, which maintains a global database of new products, noted a growing number of “Feed the Mind” formulations. “The events of 2020 caused a fundamental reset in human behavior” according to Mintel. In the coming years, consumers will be looking for more products and services that offer mental and emotional health benefits.”

Biz Insight – Manufacturers are also experimenting with new ways to deliver the goodness of tea. Effusio, a New York-based company, uses flexographic printing technology to make wafer thin dissoluble discs that deliver vitamins, minerals and complex nutrients including prebiotics. The company’s “Sleep” discs contain L-theanine derived from tea; chamomile and melatonin.

Tea Sales Up in the UK as Volume Continues to Fall

Britons increased their tea intake by 27 percent in 2020 consuming 61 billion tea bags, enough to cover the equivalent of 31,000 soccer fields. A survey of 2,000 tea drinkers financed by JING Tea found that during the pandemic UK residents used an average of four teabags a day or 1,460 tea bags per person last year.

One third say they drink tea for comfort and one in 20 said that tea calmed them during a crisis. One third said they plan on sticking with the same tea, prepared in the same way for life but 58 percent say they are willing to experiment.

Biz Insight – The British Isles are a bellwether for western consumption patterns dating back 361 years. Revenue from tea rose slightly in 2020 but consumption continued its 11-year decline in volume. Globally tea consumption grew by 1.5 percent, a retreat from the previous year’s 4 percent pace due to temporary and permanent closures of cafes and restaurants. The Economist Intelligence Unit predicts tea consumption to grow by 2.8 percent in 2021.

Canadian Tea Sales Slid in 2020

Tea sales in the first weeks of the pandemic soared. Canadians, like those in many nations, rushed to fill their pantries. During the early spring and summer sales in grocery grew by double digits leading all FMCC (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) categories and offsetting losses in foodservice. The situation changed as lockdowns returned last fall….

Shabnam Weber – President Tea & Herbal Association of Canada

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Tea News and Biz Insight – September 17, 2021 Tea Biz

"HEAR THE HEADLINES – Advent International Will Bid $4 Billion for Unilever’s Tea Portfolio | India Considers Halting Imports of Nepal Tea | Sales of Herbal Supplements in the US Reach a Record $10 Billion in 2020 | NEWSMAKER – Rainforest Alliance Director South Asia Madhuri Nanda  | GUEST – Caroline Giacomin, Ph.D., a physicist at ETH Zürich, Switzerland   | FEATURES – This week Tea Biz travels to Switzerland to learn from ETH Zürich physicist Caroline Giacomin the physics of that colorful sheen that rises to the surface of black tea. Is tea scum just that or a revealing indication of goodness in the cup? … and then we travel to New Delhi, India where the Rainforest Alliance’s Madhuri Nanda reveals how practitioners of RA’s sustainable farming methods are evolving toward broader, more holistic ecosystems in Part 2 of our series on Regenerative Agriculture. The Physics of Black Tea Film Have you ever noticed a colorful sheen on the surface of your tea? It appears to break like ice floes in the arctic as the tea cools. Researchers once thought tea film was due to waxy substances contained in tea leaves released during steeping. That is not the case. The delicate film is an interfacial interaction of air, tea polyphenols, and calcium carbonate ions in water. It does not form on white, yellow, green, or lightly processed oolong teas, only black tea. In many parts of the world, soft water prevents the film from forming. Is tea film a fleeting glimmer of color to enjoy or an ugly scum to quickly dissipate with a squeeze of lemon. Caroline Giacomin, Ph.D, a physicist at ETH Zürich, Switzerland joins us to explain the physics of tea film from a study she and colleague Peter Fischer recently published in the Physics of Fluids.  Regenerative Agriculture: A Holistic Approach The Rainforest Alliance's Madhuri Nanda explains that while sustainable farming ensures that agricultural practices do not negatively impact and degrade the environmental, social, and economic aspects of the surrounding ecosystem ̶ the focus shifts in regenerative agriculture toward adopting a broader holistic approach that enhances biodiversity and improves soil health through increased microbial activities that build resilient systems capable of withstanding adverse climatic scenarios."
  1. Tea News and Biz Insight – September 17, 2021
  2. Tea News and Biz Insight – September 10, 2021
  3. Tea News and Biz Insight – September 3, 2021
  4. Tea News and Biz Insight – August 26, 2021
  5. Tea News and Biz Insight – August 20, 2021
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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Writer Dan is the founder of Tea Journey magazine the Tea Biz Podcast and a contributing editor at STiR coffee and tea. He is the former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine, former editor and publisher of World Tea News, and editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer. Dan has traveled widely in the tea lands, speaking on retail beverage trends in Canada and the United States and at conferences in Europe, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.