Siddharth Jain, founder, Brewhouse Ice Tea shares the innovations with India’s favourite beverage, to cater to changing consumer behaviour
Tea in India is much more than just a beverage. India is not only the second largest producers of tea but is also one of the countries with the highest tea consumption rate in the world. Most people in the country like to enjoy a hot steaming cup of tea first thing in the morning to refresh their senses and energise themselves to start their day. From the best beverage to be served to guests or a go-to cure for tiredness, it would not be wrong to say that tea is emotion in India.
As per a recent Forbes report, tea occupies more than 79% share in the non-alcoholic beverage market in India, which was valued at more than $30 billion in 2017. The market is expected to grow annually by 20-23% by 2020 and is estimated to be three times the size in 2017, as per the report.
In the last decade, many companies have experimented with tea to come out with innovative flavours and ready to drink variants to woo tea drinkers in India. The premium and high-quality tea along with green tea, herbal tea and floral infusion teas have successfully made their way in the homes of many Indians. Apart from the introduction of premium flavour teas, innovations with the drink have resulted in some new age tea variants to cater to the changing consumer behaviour esp. of the millennial generation tea drinkers. Innovations like bubble tea (tea base mixed with milk or fruit, depending on what variant one is making, with a cluster of chewy tapioca pearls at the bottom). These trends, however, fizzled out as quietly as they had arrived on the scene.
However, the most common variant of tea that appeals to the younger generation is iced tea. This homemade formula of ice tea has undergone experiments with flavours twists to appeal to the youth. Brands have not only customised ice tea to cater to the need of a tasty beverage in lieu of carbonated drinks, but they have also kept in mind the health benefits of this cold variant of tea. Ice tea made using green tea and flavours such as honey and lemon make it healthy as well as tasty. The sugar content is deliberately kept low to increase the health benefits of ice tea.
Another aspect that is kept in mind while designing a contemporary tea drink is the packaging of the beverage. The young consumer is educated and environmentally conscious. While some brands opt for PET packaging for safer logistics and increased the shelf life of the product, there are brands who keep their packaging niche by using recyclable glass bottles. The glass bottles help retain the taste of the product for long and increases the cool quotient of the drink.
Today, the biggest challenge lies in educating the consumers about the variety of premium teas and blends. While many are aware of the health benefits of teas like Green Tea and decaf tea, there is a huge gap of marketing strategies to convince the younger generation to choose tea and its variants over a cup of coffee. Choosing new age selling and marketing platforms might help to reach the new age consumer easily.
The ever-evolving market has opened a lot of new avenues for this beverage to be enjoyed by the youth. Through tea cafes and coffee shops, it is becoming a vital part of the millennial lifestyle where innovations are taking place rapidly.
Lastly, technology has a great part to play in tea innovation. Since India has huge land resources under tea farming, technological advances can help keep up with the sustained supply of tea in the domestic as well international tea market. This would benefit both, Indian tea farmers and homegrown tea companies.