Tea Time

The tea industry is reaping the benefits of America’s strongest food trends. According to the Tea Association of the USA, the industry grew about 5 percent in 2015, and it’s not slowing down. The inherent health benefits of tea are attracting health-conscious consumers, and demand for more information about the origins of the food we eat is driving interest in tea varieties, the fascinating history of tea and the regions where it’s grown. The trend toward more natural foods also gives tea a popularity boost.

Similar to other categories, premium and specialty products have overtaken the tea market, garnering an 8 percent growth rate in 2015. Despite the higher cost, Millennials are enraptured with the delight of discovering new flavors, ethnic or cultural offerings and craft selections. Meanwhile, sales of generic, less expensive teas remain stagnant.

Refrigerated ready-to-drink teas and coffee, however, are still king of the category. According to the Specialty Food Association, that segment saw the biggest sales growth among all categories from 2013-2015 at a whopping 262 percent. It also garnered 301 percent growth in volume. The combination of portable convenience and new flavors seems to be the ultimate preference of today’s tea and coffee drinkers, so make sure your store is offering them the options they want.

NUMI

Tea by Mood from Numi (888/404-6864 or numitea.com) is a thoughtful gift that invites tea-lovers to take a deep breath and allow their mood to inspire their drink. Each box contains five tea bags of eight organic and fair trade teas and teasans for a total of 40 tea bags in all. Flavors are Breakfast Blend, Aged Earl Grey, Emperor’s Puerh, Jasmine Green, Mate Lemon, Rooibos Chai, Moroccan Mint and Chamomile Lemon.

HONEST TEA

Cinnamon Sunrise is one of the newest flavors from Honest Tea (800/865-4736 or honesttea.com). It’s an unsweetened herbal tea, which means zero calories and zero caffeine. Honest Tea is an organic bottled tea company.

EAST INDIA TEA COMPANY

Royal Flush Black Tea from East India Tea Company (eicfinefoods.com) is harvested from bushes propagated from the original bush that was planted by Prince Philip during his first visit to Ceylon with Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. This beautifully balanced Orange Pekoe grows at the high altitudes of the Pedro Estate of Nuwara Eliya. The loose tea is bright, medium-bodied and delicate.

NATURE’S GURU

The instant chai line from Nature’s Guru (949/478- 4878 or naturesguru.com) is now available in a specially packed 1-pound resealable bag. Customers only need to add hot water to enjoy the company’s delicious Masala Spiced Chai.

WILD HIBISCUS FLOWER CO.

Blue Tee is made from 100 percent pure butterfly pea flowers and includes 16 flowers in each sachet. Packed with antioxidants, this unique tea from Wild Hibiscus Flower Co. (800/499-8490 or wildhibiscus.com) features an intense, natural blue color when brewed and changes to royal purple when lemon juice is added due to a natural pH reaction. Customers can also make blue ice cubes for iced tea or blue ice pops for kids.

PARAMOUNT COFFEE

Happy Camper Medium Roast from Paramount Coffee (517/853-2435 or paramountcoffee.com) is full-bodied with a rich flavor and offers an aroma with a smooth finish. Coffee lovers in restaurants, cafés and offices have enjoyed Paramount Coffee since 1935.

ETHICAL BEAN COFFEE

Superdark is a hammering French roast that is blended to display body, balance and a dark cocoa-laced finish. Fair trade and organic, Ethical Bean Coffee (877/431-3830 or ethicalbean.com) is artisan-roasted in a carbon-neutral facility in Vancouver. Each bag has a QR code that allows consumers to track the beans’ origins, see photos from the coffee co-op and read tasting tips.

SINGLE CUP COFFEE

Torani Salted Caramel Flavored Coffee features the richness of a buttery caramel flavor that is brought to new heights with a pinch of salt. Since 1925, Torani has been adding flavor to coffeehouses around the world, and its partnership with Single Cup Coffee (800/718-0885 or singlecc.com) means customers can enjoy its flavors at home.

GRADY’S COLD BREW

Brewed and bottled by hand in Brooklyn, N.Y., Grady’s Cold Brew (718/599-9559 or gradyscoldbrew.com) allows customers to make their own cold-brewed iced coffee at home. The Bean Bag Can, which produces 12 servings, is a collectible tin that contains four bean bags packed with the same blend of coffee, chicory and spices used to brew the company’s signature New Orleans-style coffee concentrate.

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