To Grow in 2022 and Beyond, the Tea Industry Needs to Embrace New Realities

As we continue to kick-off 2022 in another state of the unknown for so many parts of the world, it’s time for the tea industry to embrace new realities.

Here are two major trends that have developed in the past two years – and they’re trends that are staying strong: self care and societal care.

Addressing these two key trends should be top of mind for everyone in tea, as we continue to grow the industry.

Self Care – The need to take care of one’s well being, both physical and emotional, remains a strong driver for consumers. Today, 58 percent of consumers are actively looking for healthy products when they shop, resulting in a 171 percent increase of functional food and beverages introduced to market in the past 10 years. This trend will continue, and it provides the tea community with an opportunity to boost its growth by focusing on tea as a healthy beverage.

Societal Care – More than ever, consumers are seriously looking at how companies are impacting the world and the environment, and they’re demanding answers from the companies they purchase from. For tea and botanical businesses, they need to understand and communicate how sustainably sourced their products are. Is your business building relationships with suppliers to ensure that everyone benefits from the relationship? Or are you price-focused and continue the “race to the bottom”? Building relationships means understanding the needs of the supply chain and developing collaboration. Sustainability is a constantly moving goal post, which means the work can never be complete. It is also an issue that falls on the shoulders of every single citizen of the globe, not just large companies and producers. Consumers will no longer accept the green washing they may have encountered in the past. If you say your company is transparent, consumers will demand you prove it. If you say your product is sustainably sourced, they will demand you substantiate it. If you say you “give back,” they will demand to see it.

How Do We Convert Non-tea Drinkers into Tea Drinkers?

Looking at trends is not only important for tea businesses that want to address changes in consumer behavior and changes in tea drinking habits. Looking at trends is also critical in addressing the question the tea industry wrestles with often: How do we convert non-tea drinkers into tea drinkers?

To help answer this question, the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada conducted a recent survey of Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34. Our mission was to understand their drinking habits of non-alcoholic beverages. What do they drink and why do they make the choices they do? What we found was that young Canadians consume a variety of beverages with coffee and water as the most consumed, but hot teas and tisanes are indeed being enjoyed by more than half (53 percent) of those polled. The frequency of their beverage choices varied significantly, however. Coffee and water are consumed multiple times throughout the day by this age group, whereas tea is being enjoyed a few times a week.

We further dug into why young Canadians were making the choices they do and, most importantly, what would make them try a new beverage. The answer that prevailed over and over was how important flavor is to them. Above all other choices – health, sustainability, caffeine – it was flavor that was the consistent answer in every variation the questions that were posed.

When asked why they weren’t drinking tea, the top three answers we were: 1) It isn’t as interesting as other beverages, 2) I don’t like the taste and 3) It never occurred to me to drink tea. These are the marketing and communication challenges we must address in the tea industry.

Yes, an emphasis on functional beverages and addressing sustainability are key in the trends we see, but none of this can happen at the expense of quality and flavor. Since 1908 when Thomas Sullivan invented the first teabag, the tea industry has not seen innovation in the way we deliver our product, the way we communicate our product, and the way to capture the hearts and minds of new consumers.For far too long the tea industry has existed within its own echo chamber and, in order to break out and increase our share of throat amongst consumers, a new way of thinking will need to emerge. This, I believe, is the task tea should take on in 2022. #DrinkTea.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to download the new World Tea white paper, “2022 Tea Industry Trends, Issues & Innovation.” The white paper features the article you’re reading now, as well as others like it. To download the free paper, CLICK HERE.

Shabnam Weber is the president of The Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, the leading authority and industry voice on all things tea in Canada, representing members from bush to cup. The association provides proactive leadership in the areas of advocacy, generic promotion, education and information in order to ensure the long-term viability of the tea industry. It serves as a source of information and research about tea, and it offers a Tea Sommelier Certification program in Canada. To learn more, visit

Plan to Attend or Participate in the
World Tea Conference + Expo, March 21-23, 2022

To learn about other key developments, trends, issues, hot topics and products within the global tea community, plan to attend the World Tea Conference + Expo, March 21-23, 2022. The event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary, in addition to being co-located with Bar & Restaurant Expo. Visit

To book your sponsorship or exhibit space at next year’s World Tea Conference + Expo, contact:

Veronica Gonnello
​(for companies A to G)
​e: [email protected]
​p: 212-895-8244

​Tim Schultz
​(for companies H to Q)
​e: [email protected] 
p: (917) 258-8589

Fadi Alsayegh​
(for companies R to Z)
​e: [email protected]
p: 917-258-5174​

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