9 trends for 2011 from the World Tea Expo.

Loose tea at the World Tea Expo. Photo: ak PR Group. Used with permission.

Since the World Tea Expo is not just an exhibition, like a County Fair for the tea world, but also a conference, there are classes, demonstrations and educational opportunities around every corner.  It’s a pity the event is only open to tea professionals!   The tea world is changing, and San Jose’s eager “foodie” community has a lot to look forward to with tea.  Here are some of the major tea trends for 2011 according to the folks at the World Tea Expo:

1. Making tea “sexy” and “modern” to appeal to a younger demographic.  This includes new artistic designs for teapots, cups and saucers, and other accessories, as well as free-trade and environmentally-friendly materials.

2. Celebrity endorsement of tea, and tea products created by and for celebrities.  Various Hollywood stars have revealed their fondness for kombucha, and sales of the tea-based beverage spiked.

3. Reaching out to men and twenty-somethings with specific products.  This includes moving away from frilly design in tea wares, as well as touting the benefits of tea for men’s health.

4. New kinds of tea packaging.  It’s not just the tea bag or tea tin anymore!  Companies are pursuing hand-made items created by small cooperatives in Africa, Asia and South America that is earth-friendly and attractive as well as functional.  Traditional pottery, baskets, and woodenware has already appeared in San Jose at places like Cost Plus World Market and Satori Tea Bar.

5. More businesses that sell only tea, or primarily tea, instead of coffee shops that also sell tea, or cafes that also sell tea.  These businesses are expected to be more frequently modern or Asian in style, instead of English Country Victorian, and they may or may not offer food in addition to tea.

6. Using social media to market and learn about tea, and more web addresses, Twitter names and other social media information on packaging.  Kevin Rose, Digg.com founder, is a tea drinker and a World Tea Expo attendee!

7. Talking about the origins of tea in general, as well as a focus on each type of tea’s origin, similar to what is done with wine and coffee.  This includes growing and processing conditions, the taste and aroma profiles of tea grown in different geographical areas, and the traditions associated with tea in those places where it’s grown.

8. Further categorization of tea from “tea bags” vs. “loose-leaf”, to regular and “premium” loose-leaf teas.  The “premium” teas will include traditionally labor-intensive and rare teas like yellow tea and wild pu-erhs.  Loose-leaf blends, both flavored and un-flavored, will become more widely used as demand goes up.

9. Increased focus on organic teas and sustainable tea-growing and producing practices.  Organic teas should become less expensive as more companies enter the organic marketplace, and established food companies may introduce private organic tea lines.

These trends are the tea world’s response to the clues they’ve been getting from today’s tea drinkers.  Keep an eye out for these trends being brought to life in San Jose!  Exciting new products and techniques will start appearing in San Jose tea shops, and on the Internet!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
World Tea Expo 2011 website
“World Tea Expo highlights the hottest 2011 tea trends”
Fall 2010 Hot Tea Champions who will be introduced at the World Tea Expo
“Tiny Tidy Teapot turns heads at World Tea Expo”
“Tea with Kevin Rose: Masala Chai, Samovar Breakfast Blend, Wuyi Oolong” video
“Kevin Rose Tea Starter Set” from the Tea Club for Men
“Celebrity Tea Trends” video
“’Miracle’ tea is the choice of celebrities but fears of side-effects linger”

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