Thanks to increased awareness of its health benefits, tea is increasingly attracting consumer attention. Far from being boring, tea is actually quite versatile, lending itself to a number of delicious and anything-but-boring specialty drinks.
In some ways tea and coffee are partners, often found side by side in pantries and on supermarket shelves. So it makes perfect sense that coffee has spurred one up-and-coming tea trend: coffee-inspired teas. These days, customers are comfortable and familiar with the coffee vernacular, so exotic teas are fitting right in with profiles like “latte” and “mocha.” Tea lattes, mocha teas, and java teas are gaining popularity among those who want something a little different. Coffee Extracts and Natural Flavors such as Furfuryl Mercaptan are often used to achieve the desired flavors.
Iced tea, a household and restaurant staple, is also taking on new identities. Innovation in this area encompasses a huge number of flavor trends, from classic Southern Sweet Tea and Fruit Teas to more exotic tea flavors such as Thai Black Tea, Blackberry-Jasmine Green Iced Tea, and many others. New flavors like these are easy to create with Natural Flavor Ingredients such as Ionone Natural for berry flavor, Octyl Acetate for Jasmine, or any new taste combination a flavorist can dream up.
Another trend to look for this year is matcha, a tea made from powdered Green Tea leaves. Because the tea is more concentrated, it’s a more potent source of nutrients than regular steeped Green Tea – and therefore contains much more caffeine. Propelled by its Zen properties and healthful attributes, matcha is making appearances on menus and in specialty drinks nationwide, often combined with exciting flavors such as mint and chocolate.
Beverages aren’t the only place tea is showing up. Tea-infused dishes are one of the hottest new trends. It makes sense, especially when you consider the wealth of coffee-flavored foods available on the market. Tea is making its way into all kinds of foods including cakes, ice creams, gelatos, waffles, and more.
And last but definitely not least, tea-infused cocktails are, to the delight of many, finding their way onto bar and restaurant menus with increasing frequency. Bartenders and mixologists are experimenting with new ways to add tea’s exoticism and flavor nuance to their cocktails. Tea cocktails are likely to contain any number of interesting flavor combinations, such as agave, mint, lemon, peach, blueberry, and many more.
Is tea the new coffee? It might be a little early to say that – but tea is certainly holding its own, and there are virtually endless ways for flavorist to experiment with this incredibly healthy, delicious, and versatile drink.