Convinced of tea’s health benefits and willing to experiment with different varieties in seeking superior taste, tea drinkers are visiting an expanding number of retail locations serving and selling packaged specialty tea. Rising affluence and the desire for convenience drive sales of hot and iced teas and have prompted Starbucks, DavidsTea, Argo Tea, Teavana and Unilever to open hundreds of new outlets. Middle class residents in urban India are showing a similar desire for tea at branded shops such as Golden Tips, airport shops like Chamraj (UNITEA) and Manjushree Tea and revitalized tearooms such as Cha Bar at OXFORD book store, Dolly’s Tea shop, Camellia bars, Tea Junctions Kolkata, and independent ventures like Chado Tea India in Mumbai.
In the past year sales overall continued to climb due to the move to premium rather than greater volumes of tea. A tea cup of fresh leaf is six grams and a tea bag is closer to 4 grams. There is even less tea in a K-Cup but the difference in price is 3x to 6x. Last year Canadians drank about the same volume of tea and the same number of cups per capita but sales of specialty tea exceeded conventional (total volume is still greater for conventional). This is happening in the U.S. Sales in grocery are slipping as traditional brands lose ground. The industry is currently $8.7 billion but will quickly grow to $15 billion in three years (and some say sooner) despite the economic doldrums.