Organic, fair & ethical tea companies are benefiting from a global tea revival and consumer support for pesticide-free, sustainable tea, while retailer’s shelves are packed with an
increasing range of tea varieties and flavors.

Whether its high tea in a sophisticated tea room, drinking a refreshing cup of tea in the home or at work, or enjoying a spicy chai in a coffee shop, the tea revival rolls on, helped by evidence of tea’s high antioxidant/flavanol content and other health benefits, new research backing tea’s relationship with good health and the a trend towards pesticide-free and sustainable tea production.

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, has overtaken coffee consumption and can be found in almost 80% of all U.S. households, while over 75% of Chinese and Indian tea production is consumed in the home.

In the U.S., away-from home consumption has been increasing by at least 10% annually over the last decade, and recently Starbucks ramped up its tea offerings following its acquisition of the Teavana chain.

The Tea Association of the USA said its market is enjoying a prolonged period of increased demand, innovation and popularity, with total sales increasing 16% over the last 5 years to 2012.

However, U.S. specialty tea, which includes organic, was forecast to grow 10-15% in 2012, while Packaged Facts said fair trade tea sales grew 24% in 2011.

While Kenya is the world’s largest tea exporter, China is the number one producer globally followed by India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The two most popular varieties are black and green tea, with Russia leading these imports, followed by Pakistan and Egypt, while more premium teas are imported to the USA and Canada, Europe and the UK.

In 2012, over 65% of the tea brewed in the United States was prepared using tea bags. About 84% of all tea consumed was Black Tea, 15% was Green Tea, and a small remaining amount was Oolong and White Tea.

And as new certified organic tea companies enter the global market helped by consumer preference for organic and high quality teas with sustainable credentials, existing organic and Fairtrade brands are going beyond their certification commitments to embrace sustainable supply chains and supporting social programs for small farmers and communities.

Many tea producers and tea estates have switched to organic production in places such as India, where Organic India, producer of the Tulsi brand of tea, was able to build a new supply chain with conversion to organic production from 2007.

More organic, sustainable and Fair Trade certified teas have come onto the market. This has led to an explosion of choice in variety and packaging presented in small boxes, tall
packs, cylinders and tins in loose leaf, pyramid-style and tea bag teas available at the
local organic and health food store and supermarket, helping retailers to gain increasing sales from organic and premium teas.

Some of the most popular organic brands appearing on shelves are the colourful boxes of Pukka tea, Clipper tea, and the white packaging of Hampstead tea from the UK, while Tulsi and Signature Estates are Indian produced organic teas with distinctive packaging that have gained a strong following in North America.

In Europe, tea companies such as Sonnetor and Les Jardins Des Gaia are leading the way with flavor variety and packaging innovation, while in the USA, Numi Organic Tea is introducing chocolate into its tea profiles and Teatulia Organic Teas has tapped into the growing tea cocktail trend in restaurants and bars.

Apart from major varieties such as black, green, oolong and white teas, chai tea is a major driver of sales, with new chai flavors being launched by organic tea companies. And more specialty teas and flavors are appearing on the shelves, including the addition of herbs, flowers, fruits, spices, honey, Ayurvedic, Rooibos and other infusions. 