Has the UK fallen out of love with tea?

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I don’t think the UK will ever stop loving tea – here’s why…

I was asked if the UK’s love affair with tea is over today, as I was interviewed (18:47 minutes into the podcast) following Unilever’s decision to sell off PG Tips. In my experience, the British love of tea has only got stronger in recent years – but it is a very different world of tea that has emerged over the past 5-10 years. I think the UK continues to love tea for a number of very valid reasons, just in a different way to days gone by. Why?

I love tea

Favourite mug with a tea poem and gingerbread man tea steeper

 

1. Variety is the spice of life
There is much more variety of different teas available now. Healthy herbal blends have risen in popularity dramatically just over the past three years or so, as people look to tea to support a healthy lifestyle and make the most of all the health benefits available from drinking tea, such as green tea and matcha, and herbal tisanes.

2. Bye bye, builder’s brew!
The basic builder’s brew, that is, strong black tea, often with milk and sugar, while still surely a favourite drink across Britain, has fallen in popularity in favour of exciting new tea flavours, green tea, which is seen as being a healthier option, and healthy herbal teas. Loose leaf tea has become much more in demand than the humble teabag in recent years, as we strive to be kinder to our planet.

3. Sustainability and welfare
Consumers are seeking tea companies that are sustainable – those who are known for not testing on or exploiting animals, paying a fair wage and providing safe working conditions for their workers around the world, and tea companies that provide recyclable, compostable and sustainable teabags and packaging, as well as innovative ways to re-use tea paraphernalia, blend and brew teas.

4. The ceremony and art of tea
As well as the health lifestyle reasons, tea experiences have grown in prominence and popularity. The art of tea ceremonies, combined with meditation and mindfulness, is a new way of engaging with nature and bringing tradition into the new decade.

5. Afternoon tea treats are an affordable luxury
Then there’s the rise of the afternoon tea – themed afternoon teas have sprung up all over the UK, not just in the nation’s capital city, and this has become a tea experience and a special event that can be shared with friends and family. Afternoon tea now is on a whole other level to “popping round for a cuppa” like we used to do in days gone by. We don’t necessarily live near our loved ones in these busy times, so making tea time by way of a special afternoon tea into a sense of occasion, enjoying treats both savoury and sweet with your tea, is a great way of celebrating and catching up with others  – especially those who share a love of tea!

Why I will always love tea

Rachael raising a cup of tea at New York Plaza Hotel Palm Court

I will always love all kinds of tea

Personally, I still love a cup of builder’s black tea, but I like flavoured blends of both black and green tea, too, enjoy the health benefits of a wide variety of herbal teas and tisanes, and I really love a slap up afternoon tea somewhere nice with my friends and family.

I like to know the tea I buy is from someone who cares, that takes steps to ensure sustainability, fair trade and fair working conditions, and I like to support independent tea distributors, blenders and enthusiasts who share my love of tea in all its forms and all its glory!

Hope you enjoy the short snippet (18:47 minutes in…) of me sharing some tea knowledge and my opinion on the future of UK and tea!

Have a great weekend,

Rachael XX

Refreshingly Honest – An honour to hear about Honest Tea and honesty from a truly ethical entrepreneur

#Refreshinglyhonest
I was truly honoured to be one of a small group of tea bloggers and tea enthusiasts to be invited to the launch of Honest Tea in the UK, the refreshingly healthy, bottled, herbal and fruit tea drink brand from Seth Goldman, ethical entrepreneur and the company’s “TeaEO”.

The UK Honest Tea Launch

Ethical entrepreneur Seth Goldman shares his story at the launch of Honest Tea in the UK (Image Courtesy of Coca-Cola GB)

The setting was modern, intimate and, to quote the brand’s strapline, refreshingly honest. In the unlikely urban oasis environment of trendy Shoreditch venue, Look Mum, no hands! and flanked by a miniature orange grove created especially for the occasion, a row of tables were set out with newly sprouted lemon balm shrubs in vintage packing crates and fantastically tasty, healthy food providing the perfect backdrop for the tasty, refreshing teas.

The miniature orange grove

The miniature orange grove set up for the UK launch of Honest Tea

A delightfully sunny summer’s day was the ideal setting. After a thirsty journey to get to the launch, I was very glad of my first bottle of the Pomegranate and Blueberry variety – a sweet, fruity blend that was just right and matched the food that was served perfectly. I also enjoyed a Honey and Lemon Honest Tea, which was soothing to a hay fever induced scratchy throat.

Honest Tea has a genuinely remarkable story, springing up from humble beginnings around a Maryland kitchen table in 1998 and growing to be the best selling tea in the USA by 2007. The Honest Tea journey and growth shows how a combination of a strong mission, vision and ethics are the key ingredients to a recipe for a successful business that works to make the world a better place. It was fascinating to hear Seth tell us his story with great warmth, honesty, humour and humility.

Some of the UK Honest Tea blends

Lemon with Honey and Pomegranate and Blueberry Honest Tea blends

Seth was also more than happy to share his thoughts, advice and tools of the trade for those launching or looking to run ethical and healthy food and drink businesses, which is certainly refreshing and was sincerely welcomed by the group. You can read the whole story in Seth’s book, Mission in a Bottle –  well worth a read as a tea lover, businessperson, or if you too are an aspiring ethical entrepreneur.

The brand was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2011, but despite this phenomenal growth and success, the company has remained true to its original mission and vision – -a refreshing approach. You can find out more about Seth’s vision, his work as “TeaEO” and the Honest Tea ethos at drinkhonest.co.uk and on the Coca-Cola UK blog.

Seth Goldman shares his story

Hearing about the outlook for the food and drink industry and the remarkable Honest Tea story from its founder, Seth Goldman

Seth believes that the food and drink industry is going through a profound change currently, with a new focus on health and sustainability, without compromising on quality and taste. He describes their original vision as a hope to “shift people’s diets toward organic, authentic beverage recipes that taste ‘just a tad sweet’.” This drive for low sugar and caffeine free products is opening up innovation in tea, in particular, something I will return to on the blog in my series on tea for health. As well as being Certified Organic and approved by the Soil Association, the packaging is fully recyclable and made partially from plant materials from sugar cane. There’s a delicious, “circle of life” feeling to a drink designed to replace sugary drinks coming in packaging made from sugar cane!

The Honest Tea varieties at the launch

Lemon balm – one of  the ethically sourced herbal ingredients in the Honest Tea varieties

This new perspective in the industry poses great opportunities for authentic brands with simple ingredients and a planet and human-friendly ethos. He is also an advisor to and on the board of a number of other like-minded food startups, including a plant-based burger that could be set to challenge the carnivorous options at the BBQ!

Seth is genuinely excited and spoke humbly about Honest launching in the UK, saying, “This is one of those pinch-me moments. We can’t wait to share our drinks with folks in the UK and are confident the Honest name and brand values will translate without the need of an interpreter.”

An amazing afternoon with like minded people and words of wisdom from an inspiring businessman and human being. It will be great to see what’s next for the Honest Tea brand and Seth’s other admirable business ventures.

Honest Tea is stocked in a number of bars and restaurants in the UK (like Look Mum, No Hands!) and can be found in Whole Foods (the first store to buy the fledgling brand in the US in the early days), Co-Op and branches of M&S Simply Food at BP Connect service stations.

Seth Goldman's book, Mission in a Bottle

Seth Goldman’s book, Mission in a Bottle