Tea is a modest leaf-extracted drink entrenched in history and culture, travelling across time and continents. You can journey through centuries of history as you sip your favourite beverage. Whether in beautiful ceramic cups or on-the-go tumblers. Discover the new trends that continue to change the world of tea.
What is the origin of tea?
All tea is derived from the tropical plant Camellia Sinensis. The tea plant thrives in warm climates with long, light days, mild nights, and plenty of rain. Tea plants grow at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2130 meters above sea level and in latitudes ranging from Turkey to Argentina. Tea grows at higher elevations, and many bushes can be farmed for more than 100 years. Tea bushes cover around six million acres of land worldwide and are collected once a week throughout the almost year-long growing season.¹
When was the first tea discovered?
In ancient Chinese folklore, Emperor Shen Nong, a skilful ruler, and scientist, unintentionally discovered tea around 2737 B.C. A leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree fell into his pot of boiling water in the garden. The Emperor was so taken by the infused water that he felt obliged to learn more about the plant. According to legend, the Emperor discovered tea’s healing benefits while conducting the study ¹
The introduction of tea to Europe can be credited to Dutch traders during the 16th century, this led to the preferred beverage among the wealthy. The British East India Company emerged as a crucial catalyst in promoting tea’s extensive popularity throughout Europe ¹
Tea in Africa
Throughout the twentieth century, many countries began to grow tea on the African continent. To date 12 African countries manufacture black tea of which Kenya is the largest exporter.
Tea in Kenya
Kenya has over 550,000 small-scale tea producers, accounting for more than 60% of Africa’s total tea harvest. Tea plantations cover an area of more than 4,000 square kilometers. According to recent data, tea produced 492,000 tons, a substantial difference from the country’s third-ranked agricultural crop, coffee, which produced only 41,000 tons. The floral business comes in second in this agricultural hierarchy, with a notable emphasis on roses.³
What makes Kenyan tea so desirable?
Kenya’s equatorial location means that, unlike other nations, tea is not seasonal. Kenyan black tea cultivation is possible all year due to the long, sunny days. This is why Kenya is the largest grower and exporter of black tea in the world. They also have rich red volcanic soil, which supplies the nutrients required by the tea plant to thrive. Terroir, or the distinct features of Kenyan black tea reflects the land and climate, resulting in a bright, brisk tea.³
Traditionally tea has been consumed with milk, honey, sugar, or with nothing added. Recently some tea-related trends have widened the tea lover’s options. Some of these trends will surely not qualify as “tea” or are made with tea leaves. Fermentation has contributed to ensuring some alternative tea-like drinks.
Top tea trends for 2023:
This is a fermented tea drink that is rich in probiotics and antioxidants. It has a tangy and fizzy taste that can be flavoured with fruits, herbs, or spices. Kombucha is popular for its health benefits, such as improving digestion, boosting immunity, and detoxifying the body⁶.
2- Moringa tea
This is a herbal tea made from the leaves of the Moringa oleifera plant, which is native to Africa and Asia. Moringa tea is known for its high nutritional value, as it contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Moringa tea can help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and enhance energy levels.⁶
3- Pu-erh tea
This is a type of aged and fermented black tea that originates from China. Pu-erh tea has a complex and earthy flavour that can vary depending on the age and processing method of the tea leaves. Pu-erh tea is often consumed as a coffee alternative, as it has a high caffeine conten.⁶
4- Honeybush tea
This is a herbal tea made from the flowers and leaves of the honeybush plant, which grows in South Africa. Honeybush tea has a sweet and floral taste that resembles honey. Honeybush tea is caffeine-free and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It can also help relieve coughs, colds, and allergies.⁶
5- Sparkling tea
A refreshing and bubbly drink that combines tea with carbonated water and natural flavours. Sparkling tea can be made with any type of tea, such as green, black, white, or herbal. Sparkling tea is an excellent alternative to soda or alcoholic beverages, as it has less sugar and calories and more antioxidants.⁶
6- Ready-to-drink tea
With 2 billion people drinking tea every morning, surely this is something to keep an eye on. Tea manufacturing companies will soon be expanding and experimenting in this line with innovative products.
7- Fusion flavours
With over 3000 varieties of these to choose from, why not expand it even more? Tea can very successfully be paired with herbs and spices to ensure enticing and fun flavours.⁷
8- Functional teas
As more people turn to tea for its health benefits, functional teas are becoming a popular trend. These teas are designed to address specific health concerns, such as stress relief, digestion, and immunity boosting.⁷
9- Herbal blends
With more people seeking caffeine-free alternatives, herbal blends are becoming a popular trend. These blends often combine a variety of herbs and spices to create unique and flavorful blend.⁷
10- Tea cocktails
As the popularity of craft cocktails continues to grow, tea is making its way into the mix. Tea-infused cocktails are becoming a trend in bars and restaurants, with mixologists experimenting with different tea varieties to create unique and flavorful drinks.⁸
Health benefits of tea
- Hydrating and tasty drink.
- Can improve your sleep quality and mood as some teas have calming, relaxing, and antidepressant effects like Camomile.
- High in antioxidants – polyphenols and flavonoids.
- Rooibos tea specifically contains two antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin that have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These antioxidants may help fight infections and inflammation in the body.
- Rooibos tea may lower blood pressure, as it contains a compound called chrysoeriol that relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood circulation.⁹
- It may improve blood sugar control, as it contains aspalanthin, which has a similar effect to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Aspalathin may help lower blood glucose levels and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.⁹
Tea is a versatile and enjoyable drink that can be consumed in many ways and for different occasions. Whether you prefer a strong cup of black tea in the morning, a refreshing glass of iced tea in the afternoon, or a soothing infusion of herbal tea at night, there is a tea for everyone and every mood. Tea is not only a drink, but also a culture, a tradition, and a lifestyle.
- Mark T. W., The Origin and History of Tea Available at: https://marktwendell.com/historyoftea Date Accessed: August 15, 2023
- Palais des Thes. An Irresistible growth. Available at: https://www.palaisdesthes.com/en/understanding/countries/africa/#:~:text=The%20introduction%20of%20tea%20to,Mount%20Cameroon%20and%20in%20Tanzania. Date Accessed: August 15, 2023
- Paul, B. 2022. Everything You Didn’t Know About Tea in Kenya. Available at: https://justea.com/blogs/tea-101/everything-you-didn-t-know-about-tea-in-kenya. Date Accessed August 16, 2023.
- Paul B. 2022 The history of tea Available at: https://justea.com/blogs/tea-101/the-history-of-tea Date Accessed: August 16, 2023
- Paul, B. 2022 Explaining the Tea Making Process: How Five Different Types of Tea Are Made Available at: https://justea.com/blogs/tea-101/explaining-the-tea-making-process-how-5-different-types-of-tea-are-made. Date Accessed: August 15, 2023
- Derek. R. The 10 Best Teas of 2023 – The Spruce Eats. Available at https://www.thespruceeats.com/best-teas-4771438. Date Accessed: August 15, 2023
- Indiana. Lee. Six Trends the Tea Industry Needs to Watch in 2023. Available at: https://www.worldteanews.com/issues-trends/six-trends-tea-industry-needs-watch-2023.
- Top Coffee and Tea Trends of 2023 – Webstaurant Store. Available at: https://bing.com/search?q=trendy+tea+2023. Date Accessed August 21, 2023.
- 5 Health Benefits of Rooibos Tea (Plus Side Effects). Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rooibos-tea-benefits.Date Accessed August 21, 2023
By Sylvia Jemutai