Business World



A Healthy Picture for Tea

It’s refreshing to write about the tea industry these days. Sales are skyrocketing in the specialty and ready-to-drink segments. Loose leaf, whole leaf and herbal/tisane blends are becoming more popular. Tea’s strong health message is covered in major consumer magazines and daily newspapers consistently. Tea-infused cooking now has many published books and chefs, and restaurants are touting their menus.

Things couldn’t be better…right. As a trade editor, I’m happy to see this growth - the attention shown to tea’s multi-faceted health and taste attributes but I am concerned when I buy 100 teabags at my local supermarket for 99¢. Yes. A major brand for 99¢! I know the supermarket is featuring it at a loss leader, hoping to bring in customers. But I was going to shop at this supermarket anyhow and noticed the “early bird’ special on a Monday. Unfortunately the consumer in me was allotted only one box.

So we have a two-tiered market here…..specialty tea bringing in so much money that a millionaire I know (don’t get me started on the American economy here and that all of us American real estate owners are worthless millionaires) tells me he can’t afford these fancy triangle teabags. So of course I had to impress him with a box that I just happened to have. Then there are the major tea packers selling their product below cost. Tell me how we can produce a pack of 100 teabags for 99¢. Want to talk about fair trade, how can the tea packers pay their employees a fair salary and health benefits for this price? How can tea growers sell their tea when the American consumer will either spend less than a buck or big bucks?

What will happen? All tea will become “specialty” …yeah I know there’s an abundance of mislabeling out in the market now, but it will only grow.

I once asked a coffee exporter how much of his sales were in specialty coffee, and he smiled and told me whatever percentage the coffee roasters claim.

We present an abundance of tea articles: tea’s importance in spa settings and procedures, tourism in tea and coffee origins, the ever-involving packaging for British tea brands, purchasing refurbished machinery for new tea/coffee businesses and a look at a tea salon.

We’re happy to share an intimate article with a great tea man - Joseph Wertheim - a man who has always helped the tea industry behind the scenes. He has been active in global tea politics and has served the U.S. tea industry in so many capacities for so many years that we can’t include them all. Thank you Mr. Wertheim.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher


Tea & Coffee - May, 2008

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