Tea Trends 2021: Thought-Leaders Talk Tea Boxes, Online Sales, Wellness & More

What will be some of the big tea trends in 2021? What will continue to attract consumers to tea this year? World Tea News asked a few thought leaders to share their insights. Here’s what they had to say.

Claire Hagerstrom, TAZO Tea Master, TAZO:
“I see two major trends in the tea space that will be particularly influential in 2021. The first is that consumers are trending towards no longer expecting inferior quality of beverages that they make at home. They are turning towards products that offer them coffee house style products they can make themselves. Indulgent drinks like chai lattes and at home kits will see growth as they satisfy cravings for consumers, and premium teas and loose-leaf tea formats will also increase in popularity with consumers who are looking for a more interactive experience.

The second major trend is consumers will be drawn towards beverages that offer them functional benefits. Health is increasingly a priority and benefits such as immunity, relaxation and sleep, and heart health will be sought after this year by consumers enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. Ingredients such as ashwagandha, turmeric and elderberry have historically been used for immunity and calming benefits, which are particularly important now. Tea and herbals have been used for thousands of years for their health benefits, and this unique history will engender trust in consumers looking for these added benefits.”

Paul O'Sullivan, Online Manager, Barry’s Tea:
“Looking forward to 2021, remote working will remain a part of the norm. Tea consumption should remain high given this trend. In addition, the growing importance of health and wellness has led to consumers seeking out products that are good for them and also for the planet. At Barry’s Tea, our Natural Infusions teas have been crafted with this need in mind, at a time when self-care is paramount. We believe shoppers will continue to be drawn to more sustainable choices this coming year. This is reflected in our latest range, which features tag tea bags which are biodegradable and enclosed in a recyclable envelope and carton. Sustainability is not just a passing trend. It’s something that must become a part of our shared responsibility now and into the future.”

Angela Renals, Afternoon Tea Aficionado, Destination Tea:
“From my corner of the tea industry – afternoon tea – the new trend that began in 2020 (a silver lining of the pandemic shutdowns), is that tearooms pivoted their business model to begin offering afternoon tea boxes (afternoon teas, cream teas or holiday teas to-go, for delivery, or for nationwide shipment). Every month we learn of more afternoon tea venues packaging the afternoon tea experience for families and friends to enjoy, which has also helped cater another tea trend that began in 2020: the virtual tea party! One Pennsylvania tearoom actually had their biggest Mother's Day in history, selling out their Mother's Day Teas to go. As tearooms realize that this can be a profitable revenue stream, we expect to see more and more takeout afternoon teas offered.”

Charity Chalmers, Founder, Chariteas:
“What will be the biggest tea trends in 2021? A couple of directions come to mind – that of imbuing comfort and tea to satisfy a wanderlust dream. Imagine becoming so engrossed in a cup of tea that it stirs one's mind to summer in Provence. What will consumers be drawn to when it comes to tea and tea ware products in the New Year? I think that consumers will want to buy from brands with products that bring comfort, give back and are altruistic. Will tea’s popularity continue to rise during the pandemic, as it did in 2020? Absolutely! I can vouch for this based on Chariteas' sales.”

Charlie Ritchie, Founder, Tea Runners:
"Online tea sales will continue to grow, and retail/hotels will continue to suffer. There may be some rise in the sales of pre-packaged iced tea in the retail space, as people seek a healthier alternative to soda, but aside from that, I expect we'll continue to see growth in online tea sales in 2021."

Todd Lamb, Founder and Creator, PureLife Organics:
“Functional teas that do more for the mind and body will be the biggest trends in 2021. Teas that include Adaptogens and Spices that have been shown to provide specific benefits like reduction of stress, inflammation, digestive support, immune boosting and sleep are going to be most popular that consumers will turn to. What is critically important will also be taste. Despite the powerful benefits of these organic botanical blends, consumers will NOT consistently drink a product that is offensive to their taste preferences.

Critical ingredients such as Ashwagandha and Turmeric given the demonstrated power to impact our bodies on a daily basis along with superfoods such as Acacia. Other important ingredients are mushroom based adaptogens such as Miatake, Lions Mane, King Trumpet and Cordyceps, which in addition to many adaptogenic effects also have glucans which help facilitate a healthy immune response. What is critically important is taste. Despite the powerful benefits of these organic botanical blends, consumers will NOT consistently drink a product that is offensive to their taste preferences.

Consumers will be drawn to natural botanical blends developed by mission driven companies. "Tea with a Purpose" does not only mean teas which can transform the customer's mind and body but those products produced by companies whose mission goes beyond a single transaction with a customer and continues on to transform the world in which we leave. Tea Wares that will continue to trend in 2021 are cold brews, "ready to drink" delivery and sustainable pods.

The growth of the tea market is expected to continue and while projections suggest an eight billion dollar increase by 2025, I anticipate that will be much higher given the ability of this market to directly impact health.”

Dr. Swathi Varanasi, Integrative Health Pharmacist and Adaptogen & Botanical Specialist, and Chief Scientific Officer, Element Apothec:
“One trend that has been on the rise is replacing coffee with matcha. I call matcha the best lean, green caffeine machine. It is packed with as many nutrients and antioxidants as it is filled with dynamic flavor. When discussing how to improve our daily lives through nutrition and lifestyle choices with patients, I suggest integrating matcha as one of the easiest and most delicious ways to start the New Year off right.”

For more tea insights from thought-leaders, read our Industry Issues Series: Part One here and Part Two here.