13 May 2014


The stats about innovative, ready-to-drink teas are impressive: more than half of the nation – 158 million Americans – drink tea daily. Depending on the variety consumers choose, tea can be loaded with beneficial ingredients such as catechins, polyphenols, flavonols and glycosides, and can contain far less caffeine than coffee or energy drinks. Ready-to-drink teas are a good investment for beverage companies given the stats.

Ready-to-drink tea is projected to garner $5.3 billion in U.S. sales this year, according to IBISWorld.  According to World Tea News, the market has tripled to over $3 billion in recent years.

Companies seeking to appeal to premium tea drinkers are considering alternative formulations and, as a result, should consider different ways to process their products.

Consider a change in manufacturing

Aseptic processing and packaging enables the production of preservative-free, high-quality products that meet consumer demand for clean labels. Ready-to-drink tea processed in this manner preserves the original brewed tea quality, and is shelf-stable for up to a year without the need for preservatives. This process enables a pure tea that serves as the closest product to fresh-brew.

Aseptic processing also provides gentle, flash heat treatment, which is equally effective with high- and low-acid products, and aseptic cartons keep oxygen and light away from brewed tea, maintaining more of its healthful properties.

Sell a cultural experience

Companies shouldn’t overlook the opportunity to tap into the desire, particularly of Millennial shoppers, to feel worldly and cultured. These tea drinkers know their oolong from their Darjeeling, and packaging and marketing should be short on ingredients and long on history and culture to connect with this aspiration.

Consider value-added tea products

Kombucha and the less well-known Jun are two fermented tea products that hold health allure even beyond regular tea. What’s more, non-tea steeped drinks such as rooibos, ginseng and elderflower are growing sales in the tea space. Fruit-tea hybrids are another burgeoning opportunity, far beyond the standard lemonade-black tea blends. 

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