Organic and Fairtrade tea companies had a strong presence at BIOFACH 2014, no doubt buoyed by increasing evidence of the health benefits of tea, with its high antioxidant and flavonol activity and solid, 5% to double-digit sales growth during 2013. Buyers were presented with new varieties, flavours and presentations of aromatic organic tea.

Major brands stood out, often due to colourful and high-end packaging. Some of these included Pukka Herbs, Yogi Tea, Numi Organic Tea, SonnetoR, Les Jardins De Gaia, and from India, Tulsi Tea, Tea Promoters and Signature Estates.

Yogi-Tea, one of the biggest producers and distributors of ayurvedic organic teas has brought some new product types such as Schoco Chili, based on cacao beans dried with spices; and the other Positive Energie, a formulation with mate, black tea, hibiscus and dried cranberries, which won the award “Best New Product BioFach 2013”.

US based Numi Organic Tea ventured into new territory by launching a new range of Savory Tea blend using real organic vegetables, wild herbs, decaf tea and aromatic spices – not quite a soup but more than a tea, and is light enough to enjoy anytime of the day.

Les Jardins De Gaia of France had a successful show and met buyers who wished to expand their product range. The company supplies mainly organic and fair loose leaf tea, but offers 30 teabag teas out of 450 products. New for BIOFACH was a Rooibos Sunset tea from Africa.

Tea Promoters’ Praveen Periwal said he is seeing more demand for certified organic tea, grown in Darjeeling and Assam, including a Demeter-certified line grown at the Selimbang Tea Garden. “We specialise in organic and fair trade certified at all our tea gardens and supply private label to manufacturers,” he said.

Great interest was shown in the Japanese green tea Matcha. This is a fine-ground, powdered, high-quality green tea and not the same as tea powder or green tea powder and is made from shade-grown tea leaves.

The Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. In modern times, matcha has been used as the ingredient of Japanese desserts and pastas, green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi (Japanese confectionery).

The health benefits of matcha green tea may be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested, as opposed to just the steeped water in the case of ‘bagged’ green teas. This means that it delivers a much higher potency of catechins, chlorophyll, and antioxidants.

There is evidence from clinical studies that suggests that theanine, when consumed by drinking Japanese green teas, may help to reduce or moderate mental stress responses. “That’s why it was used in the Tea ceremony of Zen Buddhist to active conscious and calm body,” noted Jasper Jun Hirokawa, sales and customer relations responsible of the Green Ceremonial Tea Aiya Europe Gmbh.

Consumption of tea in all presentations is expected to keep growing. According to the IBISWorld’s RTD Tea Production market research report, The Ready-To-Drink (RTD) Tea Production industry has driven revenue industry growth, 6.1% per year on average, to $5.3 billion in the past five years.

The use of green tea as ingredient in lattes, smoothies, juice blends and functional foods is expected to continue, as well as the addition of black and green tea to baked goods.