Karen Clutter, BUNN Vice President of National Accounts, muses on tea. This article was published in the October 2008 issue of Tea and Coffee Trade Journal.
Increasingly as I work with a variety of national customers, I encounter the same question: how can we add tea to our menu?
Tea, both hot and iced, is becoming a beverage of choice for many health-conscious consumers. According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is the second most popular beverage in the world next to water. Scientists believe tea provides heart health benefits in a variety of ways, including reducing the risk for hypertension, improving circulation, increasing bone health, lowering the chance of type 2 diabetes, and even building stronger teeth. Tea has half the caffeine of brewed coffee and preliminary research suggests that the flavonoids in tea could play a role in reducing human cancer risk.
All these health benefits have only contributed to teas increasing popularity in the past decade. According to NPD CREST, the percentage of orders in restaurants that included hot tea increased by 5 percent in 2007 among high income and older consumers. Iced tea consumption also increased during this time by 3 percent overall. In the United States, the Southern states saw the greatest increase in tea consumption over that period.Some surprising tea trends
I have noticed a couple of significant trends in the United States. First, an increasing number of restaurants are offering iced tea to their customers, with extraordinary results. Consumers have embraced the idea of iced tea at the same time as NPD CREST noted a decline in consumption of carbonated soft drinks. One has to believe that the health benefits of tea are playing a role in its selection as a beverage of choice.
Sweet tea, once a Southern phenomenon, has now become a nationwide craze, largely due to its introduction as a menu option by some quick serve chains. Sweet tea is iced tea that may include up to 1 pound of sugar per gallon of brewed tea. Often the sweeteners are added after the tea has been brewed; however, BUNN does manufacture an iced tea brewer that will add sweetener as part of the brewing cycle.
Finally, it's not surprising that specialty tea shops have blazed onto the caf scene. These shops offer a variety of specialty hot teas to discerning customers and represent a natural outgrowth of the specialty coffee phenomenon. Read the rest of the article.