Ready-to-drink tea beverages brew excitement among consumers

By Keera Perumbala

Tea has never not been popular, but its steady, stable consumer history as a mainstay hot and cold beverage is getting an exciting new chapter.

New flavor and color combinations are representing innovation in the chilled tea beverages category, and more are on the horizon. Tea’s reputation as a clean, single-ingredient beverage has positioned it well to succeed in a market where consumers are demanding high-quality natural ingredients and clear labeling. Brewed as a standalone beverage, tea also is sugar-free — another ongoing consumer “must have” for beverages.

Consumers are looking for that artisanal experience through distinctive flavor and ingredient choices that also support a clean label. Chilled, ready-to-consume teas bring all that together in a convenient package that consumers value because it’s an immediate gratification vs. something that must be brewed.

To help product makers continue capitalizing on tea’s popularity across all market segments, let’s take a look at a few types of RTD teas and the market trends that contribute to their popularity.

Nitro Tea

After cold brew, Nitro infusion proves to be a successful trend in beer and coffee, it is tea’s turn now. The frothy, creamy texture known and loved by trendsetters is gaining further popularity and creating a premium space for itself in the category. Sensient’s proprietary heading agent mouthfeel boosters and the right flavor choices offer consumers the theatre of the serve without the complex nitro process.

Chai Tea

This blend of spices steeped into tea has been a centuries-old favorite in the East, and it is growing rapidly in the West. Fans of hot chai are warming to cold chai, as well, with opportunity in the vegan and flexitarian consumer markets. The warming blend of spices in a cold beverage is an indulgent, exotic culinary experience.

Mocktail Tea

Tea and alcohol have been used to create exciting blends for a long time, and a new trend is to create an artisanal and distinctly adult-only experience with unique flavors. Sensient’s primary research suggests that consumers mix alcohol and tea to create special occasion beverages.

Kombucha Tea

The popularity of kombuchas continue to grow as a ‘better-for-you’ choice, be it as a stand-alone proponent of gut health or as a mixer in alcoholic beverages. Taste and value perceptions have driven this beverage mainstream. As consumer palates crave sourness, they can get the kombucha taste in chilled teas without the manufacturing complexity of SCOBY*.

Energy Tea

Ready-to-consume coffee and energy drinks have carved out their niche in the market, and tea is more than ready to claim some of that territory. Green and black teas are prized for their natural energy, and when combined with Guarana or Ginseng can offer an additional boost.

Relaxation Tea

Consumers not only drink tea on the go, they also use it to relax at home. Botanicals such as French lavender, mixed berry, rose and chamomile add to a wind-down respite during an afternoon break or at the end of a long day. These flavors work well in cold brew tea as well.

Savory Sipping Tea

The broth craze showed that consumers are open to flavorful sipping when paired with nutritional bonuses, and sipping tea brings that concept to a chilled beverage. Flavors such as artichoke, carrot and curry, along with roasted garlic powder, create beverages with unmistakable savory flavors.

Sensient’s team of experts never stops evaluating and assessing consumer demands through the lens of unique solutions that bring products to life. Connect with us to innovate on that next flavorful, colorful ready-to-drink tea that consumers will love.

*Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast.