Is tea needing a rebrand or just needing better eduction?

Drinking coffee has long been cool and sexy, but tea on the other hand has well and truly been left behind. Is part of the problem with tea, that it makes us think of drinking it out of old China with grandparents? Are we in need of a rebranding of how we talk, drink, and think of tea or is there a lack of knowledge because tea companies have not effectively educated purposefully?

Has the enthusiasm for traditional tea not been passed down to younger generations as the builder’s brew is viewed as old school, and not a brand that anyone associates with being modern anymore?

According to PG Tips and Unilever, Generation Z and Millennial consumers prefer herbal teas and coffees instead and as a result, the firm is struggling to grow its black tea brands in the US and UK. Studies have suggested that younger generations are drinking more green tea, coffee, and bubble teas, instead of traditional black tea. But is this because it is not seen as fashionable enough, or because there is a lack of knowledge around the diversity of tea? It has also been suggested that with the rise of Instagram, a standard cup of tea is far less attractive than say an Iced Latte from Starbucks. Is there an opportunity with social media to make tea more aesthetically appealing to consumers? Problematically, dairy alternatives to milk can complement coffees, whereas adding them to an English Breakfast tea can change the consistency. Are we in need of a dairy free alternative to be brought to the market that compliments black tea specifically? Or do we need to focus and drive the various types of tea that is out there? There are approximately 1,500 types of tea around the world, with only a small percentage of those being acknowledged and consumed on a larger scale in the UK.

Statistics have showed that revenue of the tea market in the UK was at a peak in 2014 at 2.17 billion GBP but dropped to its lowest in 2020 at 1.54 billion GBP. 2022 saw 1.77 billion GBP in revenue with 2023 assumed to reach 2 billion GBP. If tea is already on the rise in the UK, is there an opportunity for the story behind tea and knowledge to be shared to build a connection to the commodity?

Unequivocally, tea companies have been unsuccessful in educating consumers purposefully on tea with a lack of marketing that resonates with the consumer. The question is how we can modernise tea and make it attractive to the younger generations so it can begin to compete with coffee once again.

EP in partnership with London Tea Exchange are working together to create the First Nobel Prize Afternoon Tea Experience in the World. This experience will share some of the rarest and most unique teas which are given to the Nobel Prize winners by the King of Sweden and will be an experience which will be presented to hotels and venues.

Written by Izzy Mchattie, EP Business in hospitality