• Drink Plants | Enshi Floods

    Tea Industry News for the week of July 20

    • Drink Plants
    • Tea Outlook Promising
    • New Teatulia Tea CEO
    • Enshi Floods
    • Bigelow Wellness
    An all-plant tea assortment of green and black tea, floral, fruit, and berry botanicals.

    Drink Plants

    “Consumers across all generations are re-shaping the landscape for beverage product development,” according to a Cargill Insights Report titled Blending, Brewing, and Blurring the Lines… Creating a New Breed of Beverages.

    “Traditional beverage categorizations are losing relevance, which is blurring the lines of classic categories and creating opportunities—especially for coffee and tea manufacturers—to meet these demands at the expense of soft drinks,” Cargill writes.

    Tea is the go-to beverage in the nonalcoholic market which is estimated at $854 billion globally. Euromonitor estimates the value of RTD (ready-to-drink) tea at $67 billion globally.

    “Beverages that are inherently functional have seen growing momentum, which has paved the way for new beverage products touting specific health benefits, according to The Hartman Group’s report, “Modern Beverage Culture.” Consumers are increasingly conscious of beverage calories, and they now want a drink to do more—such as provide energy, added protein, or provide other nutritional benefits,” according to the Insights Report.

    “Millennials are the poster children of this new beverage era. Their demands and aspirations are driving much of this emerging beverage culture,” according to The Hartman Group. A consumer survey by Hartman reveals “nearly three in four millennials (73%) always have a beverage on hand, compared to Gen Xers (63%) and Boomer (58%).”

    Cargill Report: Note the desire for more tea (22%)

    “Millennials say that beverages play an important role in their health and wellness and that they like beverages to do something such as provide energy or nutrients,” according to Cargill. “The win-win may be to address consumers’ changing and variable aspirations for beverage consumption with new drinks that mix both function and fun (think tea-beer combos or hard kombucha). These products will likely see a growing appeal, especially among younger consumers,” according to Cargill.

    “More than half of consumers are now using products made with plant-based ingredients, and this trend is only going to increase,” according to Cargill. “Powerhouse beverage categories like coffee and tea are leading the way by working to provide new consumption options while addressing health and wellness trends. Coffee and tea have existing health halos; they have been able to capitalize on this to support the creation of healthier energy drinks, while also serving as a better-for-you flavoring or mixer in high-end cocktails.”

    Tea on Trend

    Non-alcoholic beverages will generate $10 billion more in sales this year, reaching $160 billion, according to market research contained in The U.S. Beverage Market Outlook 2020.

    Proprietory surveys by Packaged Facts show significant changes in retail channel trends and consumer motivations across eight retail channels.

    “Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, large segments of the U.S. food and beverage industry have managed to balance losses in the foodservice sector with gains on the retail side as consumers even now continue to shift their food and beverage spending from restaurants to stocking groceries at home,” according to Packaged Facts.

    “We predict sales will spike in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus but will likely decline in 2021 as demand reverts back to more normal levels before returning to typical growth patterns from 2022 to 2024,” says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food industry publisher for Packaged Facts. The study predicts US nonalcoholic beverage sales of $170 billion in 2024.

    Plant-Based Beverages are Trending

    Plant-based beverages are a hot trend in the market as consumers increasingly integrate plant-based foods and drinks into their diets, according to Packaged Facts.

    What’s driving new interest in the segment:

    ? consumer demand for healthier, natural products

    ? consumer demand for more and better protein sources

    ? the consumer perception that plant-based food is more environmentally sustainable

    ? the increasing number of people who identify as flexitarians, consuming more vegetarian or vegan meals but not exclusively eating that way

    The report also cites the popularity of functional and wellness beverages, specifically tea.

    “As with all food categories, consumers are demanding more from beverages. Beyond reduced sugar and cleaner labels, people want drinks to make them feel better, stay healthier, and perform at higher levels. The coronavirus pandemic has further elevated people’s desire for products that help keep them healthy. Immunity-boosting products and ingredients had been trending over the last several years already and have been jumping off the shelves as people look to stay healthy amidst the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the report.

    “Turmeric has been perhaps the hottest ingredient to boost immunity and is a cornerstone of many new products, along with ingredients such as ginger and Echinacea. Beyond these, marketers continue to enhance drink functionality with ingredients such as antioxidants, adaptogens, vitamins, probiotics, Coenzyme Q10, and BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids),” according to the report.

    Click here to obtain a copy.

    Teatulia Names New CEO

    Co-founder Linda Appel Lipsius is stepping down as CEO of Teatulia Organic Teas. COO Tim Bradley will take her place.

    Denver-based Teatulia, founded in 2006, partners with growers in Bangladesh to supply organic teas and herbs used in making a range of hot teas, iced teas, and canned teas, including a newly introduced sparkling soda sold in foodservice and grocery.

    The company also operates the Teatulia Tea & Coffee Bar next to its Denver, Colo., headquarters.

    “Lipsius has built a universally-respected brand known for doing things better: From the 3,000-acre regenerative garden itself to Teatulia’s stunningly sustainable packaging to the long list of awards Teatulia has received for quality and using business as a force for good,” according to the company.

    Bradley previously worked 10 years as COO at Open Road Snacks in Centennial, Colo. He joined Teatulia in July 2017. A former consultant, he is endorsed for his work in sales and marketing and brand management.

    “We are grateful beyond words for her contributions over her many years at the helm, and excited to foster the mission and continue the growth Linda nurtured as founder and CEO,” writes Bradley.

    “Linda and I have worked together for the last three years to create a team that is truly positioned to take this company to new heights,” he said.

    Lipsius credited “a mighty team of the most passionate, creative, tenacious and intelligent individuals I have ever known” for the company’s success during her tenture, as well as “my most extraordinary partners throughout the journey – Kazi Anis Ahmed, Kazi Inam Ahmed, and Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP.”

    Submerged street buses in Enshi, China. Massive flooding eases Chinese drought.

    Too Much Rain Relief

    The tea-growing region drained by the Lancang (Mekong) River is humid, with annual rainfall greater than 800 millimeters annually, yet a 10-year drought persists. Last year the region received 888.4 millimeters of rainfall according to meteorologists, but 180 reservoirs remain bone dry and 100 rivers ceased flowing as of April 15, according to the Yunnan Water Resource Department.

    Near constant rainfall since the beginning of the month promises relief but at a high cost. On July 3 Kunming was drenched, leading to several deaths, and the displacement of thousands as well as significant crop loss along the Baishui river (which rose 27-feet overnight).

    Enshi, the center of tea production in Hubei Province, has seen the worst flooding in decades with 10,000 along the Yangtze River trapped in their homes. Damage is estimated at $11.5 billion with 28,000 homes lost. The water level at the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric facility, is 50 feet above its flood-limit level with inflows of 61 million liters a second, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

    Yunnan, which is home to 46 million people, sits on a rugged mountainous plateau sloping from the northern highlands south. During the period 1950 to 2012, the Province, experienced 59 drought years, half considered severe.

    Droughts have occurred more frequently in recent years, a condition attributed to global climate change. More than 80% of Yunnan’s rainfall now occurs during the period of May through October. Winters are dry and getting warmer. There is insufficient capacity in reservoirs to supply agricultural needs during periods of unusually high temperatures. The drought, which began in June 2019 resulted in shortages of drinking water in Menghai County and lowered yields of Pu’er by a third according to some growers.

    In past years the north and eastern sections of the province were more susceptible to dry weather. Now the tea-rich hills in the southwest are hardest hit. Annual precipitation in the Lancang River basin in 2019 was 680.4 mm, according to the China Meteorological Agency. The total is about 25% less than its long-term average, according to a report by CGTN.

    A studio published in the journal Ambio reveals that during the period 1978-1996, cultivated land increased 6.1% (167,400 hectares) in Yunnan. A report describing the impact of droughts on reservoirs and streamflow found the frequency of severe and exceptional droughts in the Lancang-Mekong River Basin has increased over the past 119 years, and all countries in the upstream and downstream of the basin have been severely affected. 

    As the downpour continues, Song Lianchun, director of China’s National Climate Center, told reporters that the number of days of heavy rain in China has risen by roughly 4% each decade over the past six decades.

    New line of cold water infused botanicals from the Bigelow Tea Company

    Bigelow Botanicals

    Bigelow Tea® has introduced a new line of cold water infused botanicals. Bigelow Botanicals Cold Water Infusions use real fruit and herbal combinations to inspire everyone to stay healthy and hydrated throughout the day, according to the company. The infusions are a “healthy alternative to sugary drinks, are zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and contain no artificial anything.”

    Easily infused by the glass or on-the-go, tea drinkers simply place a tea bag in cold water for a few minutes, squeeze the bag and stir, or leave in for more flavor.

    Bigelow Tea uses only high-quality ingredients and has specially curated the following botanical infusions that slowly come alive once cold water is added. Flavors include:

    • Watermelon Cucumber Mint
    • Blackberry Raspberry Hibiscus
    • Cranberry Lime Honeysuckle
    • Blueberry Citrus Basil
    • Strawberry Lemon Orange Blossom

    To ensure each cold-water infusion makes a positive impact on the environment Bigelow uses minimal packaging and no plastic bottles (waste reduction is a top priority at this certified B Corporation). The overwrap used to hold each bag works to keep each flavor fresh until sipped by the glass or used with reusable water bottles for the on-the-go consumer.

    Cindi Bigelow, third-generation president & CEO writes that “With today’s growing awareness and need to live a healthy lifestyle, we created these beautiful cold water infusion blends to support your wellness choices.”

    “It’s truly unlike anything else and really does help you to drink more water throughout the day,” writes Bigelow. The range is gluten-free and non-GMO. The botanicals are sold in boxes of 18 individually-wrapped bags at a suggested retail price of $3.99, about 22-cents per serving.

    Learn more at www.bigelowtea.com.

  • Tea subscriptions (A-M) – Mother’s Day Tea Gift Solution

    Mother’s Day is just a few days away and it is reasonable to assume that a fair number of people have not yet gotten around to figuring out the perfect gift. Instead of running to stores or getting a last minute something that she might not need, check out these “tea of the month” clubs and tea subscription programs that might offer a special gift that she will enjoy long after Sunday.

    Tea of the Month Clubs – A-M

    Adagio Tea – Tea of the Month Club
    Join for the 6 month or 12 month option. Select your favorite tea type: flavored, decaf, herbal, black or green/oolong. Adagio will send two teas every other month. You can see the list of teas in the lineup here. The 6 month club costs $39-49. The 12 month club is $74-$94.

    Art of Tea – Tea of the Month Club
    Subscribers can choose a monthly option of $18/month, a 6 month subscription of $16.20/month, or a 12 month subscription of $12/month. Choices include caffeine-free, iced tea, premium single origin, pyramid teabags, signature tea and wellness tea.

    Imperial Tea Court – Tea Club
    The Four Season Club offers a tea selection every three months ($121). There is also a 6 month membership (3 shipments over the 6 month period for $176) and a 12 month (monthly delivery for $291). The tea types included are outlined on their page.

    The Devotea USA – Tea of the Month Club
    Each month subscribers receive a packaged assortment of four teas: The Devotea blends, single estate teas and some “club only” offerings. The club is a 12 month club with three different tiers available. “Taster’s Delight” provides an assortment of four teas that equal approximately 30 cups for $13.99/month. “Drinker’s Essentials” yields 100 cups for $27.99/month. “Addict’s Nirvana,” $40.99/month, yields 200 cups. Three-month gift subscriptions are available for $48. The May assortment included Champagne & Berries (a green tea blend from Teas Etc.), Mokabari East Assam (Lochan Teas), White Teas Concoction Liquorice (Devotea blend), and Spearmint Tisane (Devotea USA). Click here to see the March and April offerings.

    Jing Tea – Tea of the Month
    Each month you receive a shipment of two 50gram bags of tea. You can choose three month (£75 for U.S.), 6 month (£135) and 12 month (£260). May was a very jasmine month with jasmine pearls and jasmine silver needle. June will bring Iron Buddha and Yellow Gold.

    Republic of Tea – Tea of the Month
    The program offers four different monthly options ($90-$99 for 6 months) focused on their teabag selections: Citizens’ Favorites, green, caffeine-free/decaf, and wellness. There is also a loose tea option ($120 for 6 months). Six and twelve month options are available.

    Tealet – Global Tea Tasters
    Tealet is a company focused on linking customers directly to farmers. In this program you’ll receive four teas every two months (60 grams each shipment). An annual subscription of six shipments is $215.70. A six month subscription is $128.85 for 3 shipments. Along with the tea will come information about the growers as well as information to help you better understand tea.

    Teance – Tea Subscriptions
    Teance has two different tea subscription programs available. The 3 month or 6 month Tea Subscription ($73.95/$144) and the 3 month or 6 month Connoisseur Subscription ($145/$260). The Connoisseur Subscription offers teas they do not usually sell online.

    Teavana – Tea of the Month Club

    Teavana offers a 12 month subscription program for $250. Recipients receive two 2-oz. tins of tea each month. The idea is that the teas can be consumed individually or blended together for a unique taste. The 6 month club is $130. The May offerings were a Monkey Picked Oolong and a Citrus Lavender Sage. The tea list can be found by clicking the link in the Description section of the 12 month program.


  • A Good Omen for Specialty Tea – Need to Know

    DavidsTea_LOGOA Good Omen for Specialty Tea

    Strip away all the legal filings and investment analysis and what you see in the DAVIDsTEA Initial Public Offering (IPO) today is a positive and persuasive vision of the future of specialty tea retail.

    DAVIDsTEA is the latest example of a home-grown venture where the founders, inspired by a love of specialty tea, grew their small shops into a bankable business. Like T2 in Australia, Teaopia in Canada and Teavana in Atlanta, Ga., DAVIDsTEA demonstrated an enviable trajectory from the onset by concentrating on developing innovative herbal blends, loose leaf in packets and selling premium tea online.

    In its regulatory filings the company points to 22 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth while constructing 30 new stores a year. DAVIDsTEA is seeking at least $77 million to pay down debt and construct a total of 530 stores. The company reported a $6 million profit on $142 million in sales last year with an annual growth rate of 36%.

    Excitement is building for the offering which has been chosen “pick of the week” by several analysts including lead underwriters Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. DAVIDsTEA upped the initial offering price from $18 to $19 per share Thursday and will likely see a market value vote of confidence of up to $500 million by the end of the week.

    Jurgen Link is a pioneer in specialty tea. In 1996 he founded SpecialTeas, Inc. a tea import, wholesale and e-commerce company. In 2005 SpecialTeas merged with leading tea retailer Teavana Corp. (then with 28 stores) to form Teavana Holdings. As president of SpecialTeas and senior vice president of logistics and distribution and Board Member of Teavana Corp., Link lead sourcing, logistics, store distribution and e-commerce fulfillment. He was a member of the executive team during the Teavana IPO and subsequent acquisition by Starbucks.

    “In 1996 it was impossible to find special tea in this country,” he recalls. “I grew up in Germany and Germany, like the U.S., is a coffee drinking country but we could always find a tea room with good quality tea in every city of say, 25,000,” he said. That is still not possible in the U.S., said Link.

    “That shows me how much more potential we have. What we have available now is merely scratching the surface,” said Link. “Howard Schultz [Starbucks CEO] is right, there is a ‘huge opportunity,’” he added. Retail is changing “but it has not changed enough,” he said. “There needs to be a whole lot more distribution and many, many more outlets, more points of sale and a lot more education,” said Link.

    Does DAVIDsTEA hold the key?

    “DAVIDsTEA is successfully building a chain of tea stores offering bulk teas, but the jury is still out on the right tea bar or tea room concept,” he explains. “The whole bar/tearoom channel is still in flux because no one has yet discovered a concept that is truly scalable — nobody, anywhere. That does not mean it is not possible,” he said.

    “I am very interested to see what Starbucks will do because once the concept is discovered there will be another big surge in growth,” he said. “I think Starbucks has the resources to do it. He [Schultz] needs to invent something that has not been invented,” said Link.

    Timing is good for a brisk opening day. DAVIDsTEA reported $35.4 million in sales for the quarter ending May 2, an increase of 28% due in part to an average ticket increase of 7.2%. Comparable store sales grew 6.3% in the quarter. Margins are improving. Rival Teavana, which is twice the size of DAVIDsTEA and benefits from sales at 11,000 Starbucks locations, reported 15% growth in tea sales during the same period.

    Click here to see the company’s full financials.

    DAVIDsTEA now operates 161 stores. Among those open at least one year, revenue averages $1 million per store. Given the small retail footprint (albeit expensive) and small staff (typically three to five) specialty tea demonstrates a significant return on investment.

    Store Count Canada US  Total
    2008 1 1
    2011 68 2 70
    2012 91 14 105
    2013 108 16 124
    2014 130 24 154
    2015* 136 25
    *As of May 2015

    More important, in the world of beverage retail, scale plays a huge role in profitability. Get the menu right, secure good locations and you can expand, and expand, and expand.

    DAVIDsTEA’s biggest opportunity is in the U.S. in cities along the northern border like Chicago as well as the coasts. It operates five stores in Illinois, five stores in New York and one in New Jersey; five in Massachusetts and one in Connecticut with six in California. Its greatest concentration is in the Canadian provinces of Ontario (44), Quebec (25) and British Columbia (25). The company intends to build 30 stores in Canada this year and 15 in the U.S. with a long-term goal of 40 to 50 annually to reach 530 in the next five years. Rival Teavana currently operates 330 stores with plans to build 1,000, according to Starbucks, which acquired the venture in 2012.

    Tea retail will not experience the meteoric pace of coffee shop expansion in the 1990s, when Starbucks was opening an average of two stores per day, but growth has been steady, averaging two new chain stores a week in a highly fragmented market. Tea retailing tea is less lucrative than coffee in terms of scale but with better margins. Increasing the DAVIDsTEA price to $19 a share reflects the momentum building behind this offering but keep in mind that shares of Starbucks sell for around $50.

    DAVIDsTEA sells 150 different type of tea, introducing 30 annually. Popularity is fleeting for most but innovation stimulates sales. The company earns 68% of its revenue from the sale of loose leaf teas and herbals, mainly packets priced around $8-$12 with 22% of total sales from teaware and utensils. Food and beverage sales account for 10% of revenue. Only 7.9% is from online transactions (2014) which have improved significantly from the 2.7% reported in 2010 but remain below the 10% norm for brick and mortar operations with online offerings. DAVIDsTea predicts this number will rise to 15% of sales with additional investment in the company’s website and online marketing.

    In July 2011 Teavana generated $123 million from its initial listing on the NY Stock Exchange. It had 284 stores at the time and was averaging $862,000 in sales per location. The company operated 161 stores in 35 states on the day the IPO was funded and was experiencing nearly identical sales growth that reported by DAVIDsTEA for the quarter preceding the IPO, according to a Goldman Sachs analyst posted to Seeking Alpha.

    Will success lead to acquisition? Teavana had better margins than Starbucks at the time it was purchased. DAVIDsTEA reports comparable store growth to that of Starbucks  at seven years of age, according to a cover story published in Specialty Coffee Retailer.

    Starbucks has doubled tea sales since introducing Teavana as a replacement for Tazo in its coffee stores. The greatest sales gains are in shaken iced tea and tea lattes. Meanwhile sales of Tazo, now a CPG brand, top $1 billion.

    In my view the company will use the IPO money to press its advantage in the U.S. while solidifying its hold in Canada making the Great White North a less desirable expansion target for Teavana (which is eying Asian expansion and growth in the Middle East).

    Once the management at DAVIDsTEA demonstrates to the public that the firm has legs to run, expect an inquiry from Unilever which opened its first U.S. tea store in New York last year and its fourth T2 specialty tea shop in London. The Melbourne-based T2 operates 50 stores in Australia. DAVIDsTEA is a good fit for the ambitions of Unilever’s president for refreshment Kevin Havelock. Unilever, owner of Lipton and the world’s largest tea retailer, is a $75 billion company with a growing appetite for specialty tea.

    Sylvain Toutant, who has been president and CEO of DAVIDsTEA since 2014 (leaving Keurig Green Mountain as COO of the Canada subsidiary last May), answers to a board of aggressive executives with a history of building companies to sell.

    Expansion through franchise partners is another option. Several of Teavana’s overseas stores and those in Mexico are franchised.

    Operating a business largely consisting of franchised stores is much different and less profitable than corporate-owned ventures. In a report published by Entrepreneur magazine Franchise Business Review found that “51.5% of food franchises earn profits of less than $50,000 a year; roughly 7% top $250,000, with the average profit for all restaurants coming in at $82,033.”

    Tea’s high margins, an exclusive collection of teaware and utensils and services like monthly delivery subscriptions generate sales at a mall location equal to or even greater than franchise chocolatier Godiva – one of the most profitable franchises with 217 locations in the U.S. and 275 overseas.

    Godiva generated $765 million at 10,000 locations in 2013 with U.S. retail stores averaging more than $1 million per year. “Each of these stores makes 37% more sales and posts 248% more profits,” since 2008, according to Godiva’s owners. Production capacity of the U.S. factories has increased 73% since the company was acquired for $850 million by Yildiz Holdings, as reported by the Hürriyet Daily News.

    The IPO is hot proving bulk tea vendors are an exciting opportunity but if DAVIDsTEA wishes to remain independent and eventually dominate the segment it must also discover the elusive tea bar concept that will scale.

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    Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.

    Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

  • Media Frothing Over Matcha – Need to Know

    Starbucks weathered an unprecedented technical failure Friday… Matcha Madness coast-to-coast.

    POS Failure

    Thousands of company-operated Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada experienced a catastrophic POS (point of sale) crash Friday that tested the coffee giant’s spirit of generosity. A momentary outage can be frustrating but with no word on when the system would be restored store managers recognized the opportunity to offer customers free drinks and food. When it became clear repairs would take hours, managers closed the stores. There is no estimate on how much this cost the company in lost sales, but Starbucks serves 54 million people a day. The outage was caused “by an internal failure during a daily system refresh and was not the result of an external breach,” according to the company which worked overnight to repair the system. By Saturday the more than 8,000 Starbucks locations that experienced the failure as well as Teavana and Evolution Fresh locations tied into the POS were open.

    Matcha Madness

    Soon after the nation’s collegiate basketball frenzy passed newspapers and magazines coast to coast proclaimed “matcha madness” affording tea retailers a great opportunity to generate additional greenbacks from the emerald powder.

    The stir dates to late last year when the New York Times  featured the 1000-year-old Japanese tea in an article on Ippodo Tea, an authentic Koyoto establishment that selected New York City as the site of its first store outside Japan. A stream of recipes and blog posts followed. This month TIME Magazine, the Associated Press and, here in Canada, the National Post all devoted major coverage to Westernized adaptations.

    TEABIZ150427_MachaCover_D3“Matcha shots were the ‘it beverage’ at New York Fashion Week according to Fast Company which reported “at last month’s New York Fashion Week, models were spotted sipping bright green matcha instead of Red Bull. Matcha is on the menu at eateries across the city: David Chang sprinkles matcha powder on dishes in his tasting menu at Momofuku Ko; Voila Chocolat serves it on top of hot chocolate, while Maman offers a matcha-infused almond latte; you can have it prepared according to the rituals of a Japanese tea ceremony at Cha-an or Ippodo. Williamsburg, naturally, is now host to the nation’s first dedicated matcha cafe, MatchaBar.”

    When 300-year-old Ippodo Tea Co. of Kyoto opened in Manhattan in April 2013 it staffed the store with sommeliers trained in the Urasenke tradition of sharing. They eagerly explained and sampled matcha to the curious. Before long the small store front was crowded with afternoon office workers and weekend diners at the Michelin-starred Kajitsu restaurant. Tea drinkers must take their beverage to go as seats are reserved for dinner guests.

    The tea bar offers shaken matcha ($3.25) and a matcha slushy ($4.25) along with difficult-to-find Iribancha (a smoky tea originating in Kyoto). The subdued lighting, bamboo counter and merchandise on display reflect the Japanese view that matcha is a ceremonial drink shared quietly to facilitate meditation.

    Across the Pacific, Japan hasn’t been immune to the forces of cultural adaptation. “Matcha cake, matcha chocolate, matcha macaroons. Matcha sweets are everywhere,” Kenichi Kano, Ippodo’s international director told the Associated Press. In Japan Ippodo reported annual sales growth of 25%.

    MatchaBar is a western interpretation with a mission “to uplift and motivate our community with the power of matcha,” according to founders Graham and Max Fortgang. The Brooklyn shop opened last fall. The website www.matchabarnyc.com promotes the health benefits of matcha’s antioxidants, L-Theanine, catechins and EGCg. A 30-gram tin of classic matcha used in blends sells for $22 and the premium matcha taken “straight” costs $30. MatchaBar offers classes for $85 which includes a starter tin and bamboo whisk (chasen), ceramic holder and bamboo spoon. Shoppers can opt for the convenience of an Aerolatte Electronic Whisk.

    Brian Keating, principal at Sage Group in Seattle, published The Matcha Report (www.teareport.com) as a business resource for importers, formulators, chefs and manufacturers who see a big opportunity.

    “Over the last 20 years younger generations of Japanese bypassed matcha, replacing it with ready-to-drink carbonated soda, iced teas, coffee, and energy drinks,” explains Keating.

    “During this consumption shift within Japan, an eager North American and European specialty tea industry started to import more matcha and the word spread. Creative tea cafes began making concentrated matcha steamed with milk to create ‘matcha lattes,’” said Keating. Starbucks soon caught the wave placing it on menus nationwide where it became a daily habit. Hundreds of firms now offer matcha shakes, smoothies and matcha edibles.

    Click this link to see a Teavana sommelier demonstrate the traditional method of preparation.

    Keating cautions retailers that “as with any rising star consumer product, cheaper imitators started appearing over the last few years.” Most originate in China as powdered tea that lacks the brilliant green color and sweetness of Japanese matcha.

    Beware of “wholesale pricing far below the authentic Japanese matcha,” he said.

    Authentic matcha is produced from tea plants shaded for about 10 days before harvest. Leaves develop greater concentration of phytochemicals that deliver better flavor and texture. The finest are hand plucked steamed to halt decay and then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. Stems and veins are removed during drying and the tea is then pulverized in slow moving stone-grinders. The fine powder that emerges is measured in microns. This insures the full benefit of the leaf is ingested.

    Matcha has a distinctive, grassy flavor that reminds me of chewing on blades of alfalfa. It is rich in umami a sensation that westerners find appealing in moderation. The tea’s tannins can leave a bitter aftertaste which is why most served in North America is sweetened and blended with milk.

    Keating, who has followed the growth of matcha since 2005, believes it will continue to experience fast growth. He documents his reasons in the 64-page The Matcha Report.

    “Matcha has yet to reach millions of consumers worldwide. When this untapped multitude begins to respond, a burgeoning specialty tea industry will benefit from the enhanced demand. Prices for authentic Japanese Matcha will inevitably rise — significantly — over the coming years, potentially placing a strain on supplies of the finest, ceremonial, and organic grades of the tea,” he said.

    Learn more: www.teareport.com

    Correction: Ippodo is located in the Manhattan Borough of New York City, not Williamsburg.

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    Tea Biz serves a core audience of beverage professionals in the belief that insightful journalism informs good decision-making in business. Tea Biz reports what matters along the entire supply chain, emphasizing trustworthy sources and sound market research while discarding fluff and ignoring puffery.

    Tea Biz posts are available to use in your company newsletter or website. Purchase reprint and distribution rights for single articles or commission original content.  Click here for details.

  • Tea for your Teeth

    TEABIZ_140217_TeaOralHealthTEA & HEALTH — Drinking tea every day may bring happiness, but it can also lead to a less than stellar smile. Tea’s tannins can stain teeth, resulting in unpleasant discoloration over time. The acidity of tea can also cause porousness in the enamel, leading to staining below the surface as well. According to Colgate’s Oral and Dental Health Resource Center, tea may actually stain more than coffee. There are a few ways that that tea drinkers can limit this staining and protect their smiles. Drinking water, brushing teeth, flossing, and chewing gum after sipping tea can remove some tannins, resulting in less impact on the teeth.

    For the downsides around staining, tea may have some important benefits when it comes to oral health. Nearly two decades ago, the Journal of Dentistry was already reporting that the tannins, catechins, caffeine, and tocopherol in tea combined with its naturally occurring fluoride to protect tooth enamel from acidic solutions. Another study in the Journal of Periodontology of Japanese men found that those who drank green tea saw improvements in gum recession and bleeding gums also. Those researchers believed that green tea’s catechins helped block inflammation caused by bacteria.

    Another benefit, a University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry study showed that polyphenols could block the work of an enzyme that helps to create hydrogen sulfide, a factor leading to bad breath. So raise a cuppa to healthier teeth and gums.

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