REVEALED: Top 10 trends in tea
Caterer looks at the trends and tastes brewing in the world of tea
Ever thought about going green? Well there are plenty of good reasons to. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and contains the highest concentration of antioxidants.
“More than a decade of scientific research has confirmed a clear association between drinking green tea and having a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer,” says manager of Artteas, Imma Plana.
“Studies also confirmed the role of green tea in lowering cholesterol, aiding in weight loss, preventing certain types of diabetes and strokes, it even helps prevent tooth decay!”
According to a report by the UN and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in the next decade world green tea production will grow at a faster rate than black tea at 2.3% a year.
But volumes are much smaller than they were a decade ago, with a projected total of 975,000 tonnes by 2014, says Alfonso Orona, assistant director of F&B for The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, adding that China is expected to maintain its lead, accounting for over 75% of green tea output.”
“World consumption is approximately 0.56 kg per capita. Green tea is the primary form consumed in China, Japan and some Middle Eastern countries.”
Green tea is a best seller at The Drawing Room at St. Regis, Saadiyat Island Resort says manager Daniela Santobuono.
“The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly EGCG - a powerful anti-oxidant which kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue,” he adds.
Rooibos, a native South African herb is mainly consumed as a red herb. Until recently only the red version was known and consumed and now more and more people are discovering green Rooibos.
“There is no major difference between the two in terms of benefits as both come from the same bush. Actually all Rooibos starts off as green in colour,” explains director of international business for Typhoo, Rahul Kale.
“However the herb turns from green to red due to the oxidisation of the green leaves that make it change colour.
Rooibos constitutes about 0.3% of the global tea market and current annual production is around 14,000 tonnes.
Teehaus Ronnefeldt communications manager Jutta Tarlan says: “It is a herbal infusion without caffeine. It is a tea for your whole life, you can start as a baby and still enjoy when you are a grandparent.”
The Rooibos plant (Aspalathus linearis) is only found in the rugged Cederberg Mountains 250 km north of Cape Town, South Africa.”
In the western world, black tea is currently the most popular type of tea, accounting for about 90% of total tea consumption.
Artteas’ Imma Plana says that the popularity of black tea in the west might be traced “back to the early days of tea consumption because black tea lasts longer in storage than white and green tea”.
“Therefore it was better suited for the long transportation times involved with trade between Asia and the west.”
Some might argue that black tea is losing some of its popularity, but Typhoo’s Rahul Kale disagrees: “Consumers have a wider choice now and they are consuming based on factors such as choice, mood or time of day.
Teehaus Ronnefeldt’s Jutta Tarlan says the wide range of black teas available on the market will ensure that nobody will be walking into any shop or outlet soon without seeing a black tea option.
“Darjeeling is called the champagne of tea. Connoisseurs around the whole world wait every springtime for the first flush qualities,” she continues.
“Earl Grey is one of the most consumed flavoured teas. The bergamot gives the usually black tea a very special taste. Ceylon qualities are often used for all kind of English breakfast blends.”
White Tea & Silver Needle
Silver needle tea is a handmade, organic Chinese white tea.
White tea and silver needle tea is so popular because it is so rare and the manufacturing is so special, according to Teehaus Ronnefeldt’s Jutta Tarlan.
“Silver needles are young and still have closed tea leaves which have silver hairs. The taste is fine and very delicate as it uses two leaves and one bud. Both are only sun dried with no fermentation,” she adds.
“It consists of the most tender, down covered buds and this tea is only picked for a few days out of the year and is highly sought,” adds The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh’s Alfonso Orona.
White Tea and Silver needle teas mainly come from China although countries such as India and Sri Lanka have also started making versions. Kale says the popularity is growing due to consumer awareness and “demand for a wider range of teas”.
“White Teas and Silver needle teas are mild and fragrant and pair well with light food such as pastries, sponge cakes etc,” he adds.
Cooking & sommeliers
Tea has long been used in cookery. The most obvious use is through smoking fish and poultry with tea leaves. It is also used in desserts, such as poaching fruits, creating syrups and as the main flavour such as an Earl Grey panna cotta.
“Tea is used as a flavouring agent by several chefs around the world to give a subtle flavour to their dishes,” says Typhoo’s Rahul Kale.
“Chicken is smoked with lapsang souchong tea to give a smoky flavour.”
Tea sommeliers aren’t common, but they are emerging and as people become more knowledgeable about tea and the various varieties it is likely the role will become more prevalent.
Kale agrees that the need for expertise is growing.
“We do not have a tea sommelier in our company, but we do use external tea experts to educate our staff and consumers,” he says.
“As more and more people want to learn about what they eat and drink, I believe the need for experts in the particular field will also increase.”
Feeling a bit fruity but want a hot drink? Then fruit teas could be the way forward.
“In most cases people drink fruit teas because they like the taste or because they want an alternative to drinking coffee and standard teas,” explains St. Regis, Saadiyat Island Resort’s Daniela Santobuono.
“Some people like to drink fruit teas because they are healthier, so, for example, a green tea with berries will be a good source of antioxidants and apple or orange teas would be useful as a source of vit C.”
But Typhoo’s Rahul Kale asserts that the “popularity of fruit teas (flavoured with fruit flavours and oils) is reducing because more people want to consume natural ingredients rather than scented products”.
“However, fruit infusions (dried pieces of fruit) is increasing due to their taste preference and no caffeine content.”
Cold brew teas
When you make tea with boiling water you extract all the elements very quickly. You are effectively cooking the tea leaves which creates chemical reactions and removes some of the aroma.
When brewing with cold water, the extraction is slower and selective, creating a simpler tea that maintains more of its original flavour. Cold brews tend to contain less caffeine and less acid.
“With today’s trend for a healthier lifestyle and people’s increased level of awareness about the health benefits of tea, the world of teas is quickly changing,” says Artteas Imma Plana.
“Experimenting with tea fusions, such as tea-infused food, ice and chilled teas, bubble teas, tea mocktails, tea smoothies or tea ice creams is part of the growing trend to make tea more appealing to younger demographics and diversify its market.”
But Plana warns that not all teas are served well chilled. Fragrant or fruit-based teas, such as Artteas’ five variations of chrysanthemum or its sweet lychee tea, are particularly suited to be served as cold beverages and offer a very healthy alternative to other non-natural choices.
Oolong tea is a partially oxidised (i.e. semi-fermented)tea, halfway between a green and a red tea.
“The leaves of oolong teas are skilfully rolled and oxidised after picking, allowing the essential tea ingredients to react with the air,” Artteas Imma Plana explains.
“The flavour of oolong ranges from highly floral, intensely fruity to mildly roasted with honey nuances. Artteas offers more than 10 different variations.”
Different varieties of oolong are processed differently, but the leaves are formed into one of two distinct styles. Some are rolled into long curly leaves, while others are ‘wrap-curled’ into small beads, each with a tail. The former style is the more traditional of the two.
A widely used ceremonial method of steeping oolongs in Taiwan and China is called gongfucha. This method uses a small steeping vessel with more tea than usual for the amount of water used. Multiple short steeps of 20 seconds to one minute are performed.
Top 10 alternative things to do with tea
- Add used tea bags to compost
- Water plants with left over tea
- Soothe puffy eyes
- Flavour your food
- Remove grease stains
- Put in bath when sunburnt
- Put in your shoes as a deodorant
- Use as a paint and feed your creative side
- Read someone’s future
- Get rid of warts through the tannic acid found in tea
Tea had been seen in some markets as the reserve of the elderly and the coffee house boom certainly knocked the leaf. But the world of tea began fighting back and the hard work is really beginning to pay off.
Through innovative products and interesting ways of using tea, the beverage is attracting new demographics.
Typhoo’s Rahul Kale explains that single serve tea pods are expected to be the next trend in coming years.
“Teas and herbal infusions offering real health benefits and demand for wellness herbs and teas are expected to grow in the future,” he adds.
Another tea variant that is attracting youngsters is bubble. Although it began in the 1980s in Taiwan, the rest of the world is now taking notice.
Also known as pearl milk tea, most recipes contain a tea base mixed with fruit or milk. Most bubble teas come with small chewy tapioca balls commonly called pearls.