MILAN, Italy – There’s a revolution taking place in a tea cup. The infusion that comes from the leaves of camellia sinesis is undergoing a transformation based on new lifestyles and new ways of consuming tea.
It is already the most widely consumed beverage around the world, but today it isn’t stopping at traditional uses, and is making its way into other areas.
It is evolving from a pleasant beverage for the mid afternoon to a gourmet icon with a thousand different nuances, scents and varieties, making its way into pastry shops, restaurants, gelaterias and the world of mixology where it definitely has a supporting role, if not a starring role.
It is no surprise that Host – the leading trade fair in Ho.Re.Ca. food, service, retail, mass distribution and the hotel business, which is to take place from 20-24 October 2017 at fieramilano Rho – is putting the focus on this product.
Therefore, there are a lot of innovations in store for us in the area dedicated to Tea, which for the last few editions has been offered alongside the area focused on Coffee, making for a synergistic relationship with the Gelato/Pastry/Bar, Coffee Machine and Vending areas along with the two other macro-areas of Host – Food Service Equipment – Bread-Pizza-Pasta and Furniture and Tableware.
This synergy is particularly important in this moment in which tea, in all of its variations, is entering into areas that hadn’t considered it early – from pastry to baked goods and from mixology to restaurants.
Depending on the way it is processed and the level of fermentation, tea can be categorized into six major types: Green, White, Black, Yellow, Oolong or Puerh.
But there are an infinite number of interpretations depending on the area where the camellia sinesis is cultivated.
These leaves were first begun to be used around 2700 B.C. Thus the world of tea is an ancient world with a culture that goes back thousands of years, but that today is seeing important changes.
One of these changes has been the success of specialty tea, which is similar to the specialty coffee movement and is progressively seeing gains in market share.
Some of the biggest trends include capsule-based tea machines, high-end teas and “variations on the theme” like tea-based cocktails, iced tea made to order, and different cold recipes using tea.
The new generations know tea better and can differentiate between high quality and commodity.
These generations are also open to trying alternatives like iced tea. Today all variations of tea are used in cocktails, food and bread or, to create iced teas or tea-based smoothies, gelatos and pastries. Or tea is simply recommended as an accompaniment to all courses of the meal.
Growing numbers throughout the world
It is already the most consumed beverage in the world after water, yet the thirst for tea is taking over the world, and opportunities to drink it are multiplying.
This is confirmed by data from a recent FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) study called World Tea Production and Trade. Current and future development, 2015.
Between dal 2006 and 2013, there were increases in both production (reaching 5.07 million tonnes, +6%) and worldwide consumption, which reached 4.84 million tonnes in 2013, a 4% increase on the previous year.
The growth in the Chinese market should be pointed out. Since 2006, consumption doubled (from 867 million tonnes to 1,614.2 million tonnes).
By 2023, FAO predicts a 3% increase in consumption for black tea and up to 8% for green tea, which will close the gap between supply and demand, which in recent years had kept the price of ingredients low.
Tea consumption has increased in Italy as well. In 2015, Euromonitor calculated growth of 3% with business worth 355 million euros and a 2% increase in volume, greater than the average in non-alcoholic beverages.
In one of the key markets for Host 2017 – Canada – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada predicts that tea consumption, which is already high (10 billion cups a year), will increase by 40% from now until 2020.
This will be spurred on by a growing interest in health and wellness. Speciality teas now make up 58% of the market, in value.
There’s also good news from London, and on a more traditional front. Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday brought about a return to the most typical British institution (after the royal family, of course), with an increase in sales of teas and sweets typical of afternoon tea.
Tesco, one of the biggest store chains in the UK, sold 4% more of specialty teas (in other words, 250,000 boxes compared to last year).
Green tea is preferred for wellness and health
The growing interest in the health properties of tea have led to its “reawakening” in Western countries. A recent study pointed out that tea helps in preventing osteoporosis (Flinders University of Adelaide in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
Actually health considerations have led to the success of some varieties, particularly green tea, which has antioxidant properties that are said to combat obesity and diabetes and to protect the liver.
Thanks to an amino acid – theanine – green tea relaxes the nervous system (which is the opposite of what caffeine does, and this despite the fact that green tea also contains caffeine). This is the exact substance that has lured some consumers away from tea’s “cousin” coffee.
A derivative of green tea – matcha – is also very popular and much loved by American “hipsters.” It is a powdered Japanese green tea that dates back to ancient times. Matcha is catching on in Italy as well.
Japan is offering up the latest trend with matcha beer, and its “temple” is the Green Tea Restaurant 1899 Ochanomizu in Tokyo.
Therefore the appointment is with Host 2017 where the absolute latest from the world of tea will be on display in the Coffee/Tea, Gelato/Pastry/Bar, Coffee Machine and Vending macro-area.
As we approach this 40th edition of the show, there will be a wide array of initiatives to prepare us, including meetings, events, observatories and the sharing of data.
In fact, this is also what Host is: a machine whose wheels keep on turning in an effort to ensure new business for companies and visitors, ready to pick up on the infinite number of opportunities for growth, training and innovation.
For more information: www.host.fieramilano.it, @HostMilano, #Host2017.