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 Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022 Tea Biz

HEAR THE HEADLINES – Black Friday Lives Up to its Name | US shoppers set in-store and online sales records | UNESCO Inscribes Two Tea Traditions on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity | Australian Study Shows Elderly Women Benefit from Tea Flavonoids| NEWSMAKER – Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea| GUEST – TeaBookClub Founder Kyle Whittington| FEATURE INTRO – Tea Biz travels to Tucson, Arizona, for the grand opening of a 2200 sq. ft. combination tea shop, tearoom, warehouse, and online fulfillment center. Andrew McNeill, Business Development Director at Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea, says that stay-at-home tea drinkers experimenting with specialty teas are eager to share the experience of tea discovery face-to-face.Tearooms Rekindle Cultural Experience Face-to-Face – Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea is typical of well-established shops that survived the pandemic. The direct-trade retailer is 20 years old, located in a second-tier city, and generates revenue online and in-store from packaged sales, tea service, and wholesale supply to coffee shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants.Packaged tea has fared well since 2019. A spike in sales jammed tea cupboards with direct-from-origin and exotic teas purchased online. The growing consumer preference for better-tasting tea favors retailers with quality selections, including herbal infusions. Retailers are remodeling to promote in-shop sampling as it encourages social interaction and repeat business among enthusiasts eager to experiment and learn from experts.Seven Cups founder Austin Hodge says, "When you enter a traditional teahouse, in China or Tucson, you step into a cultural experience that separates you from your daily problems. It’s a teahouse tradition for tea drinkers to be treated with respect and dignity, whatever their outside problems might be.”REVIEW: Tea & Empire, James Taylor in Victorian CeylonAngela McCarthy & T.M. DevineThis fascinating book illuminates the all-too-often overlooked tea region of Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka. The authors draw on the letters of James Taylor, pioneer and founding father of the Ceylon tea industry, to explore the life of a Scottish migrant who, through experimentation and determination, forged a new industry out of the ruins of the coffee blight. This uniquely complete collection of correspondence reveals this pivotal time in tea history through the eyes, thoughts, and actions of a key player. – Kyle Whittington
  1. Tea Biz News and Insight – December 2, 2022
  2. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 25, 2022
  3. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 18, 2022
  4. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 11, 2022
  5. Tea Biz News and Insight – November 4, 2022
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Editor | Publisher | Podcaster | Consultant | Journalist Dan is the founder of Tea Journey Magazine, the Tea Biz Podcast and Blog, 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 former editor-in-chief at Specialty Coffee Retailer, then headquartered in San Francisco. Dan has traveled 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, South America, and Africa.