Newest Tea Innovations
Diffusion of Innovation in the Tea Industry
Diffusion of innovation accounts for how new innovations in tea spread within a market.
The tea market is composed of five segments of innovation adopters:
- Innovators: Innovators are those in the tea industry who take risks, they are the change-makers closely connected with science, technology, and other innovators.
- Early adopters: Early adopters are opinion leaders with significant sway, they selectively adopt new innovations which maintain their influence in the market. Early adopters in the tea market include publishers (e.g., Dan Bolton), bloggers (e.g. Jee Choe), and a segment of tea consumers with financial liquidity. The segment of consumers that represent early adopters are often the deeply impassioned tea drinkers (e.g., super consumers).
- Early Majority: The early majority embrace innovation more slowly than innovators and early adopters. In the tea market, marketing and media coverage influence innovation adoption by the early majority, as do the opinions of early adopters, who hold considerable sway. The early majority in the tea market are those with an enduring interest in tea; they are often swayed by variety, novelty, and health benefits.
- Late Majority: These consumers adopt an innovation after the “average person” in their position has done so. These people may be more sceptical, and social proof is effective in swaying them.
- Laggards: They are least likely to adopt an innovation, and may actively claim to be the “norm”.
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Newest Innovations in Tea
What is sparkling tea?
Sparkling teas are a mix of soda and tea; it’s often cold, carbonated, and healthy. Creating sparkling tea with the addition of a gas (e.g., carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon) diversifies existing beverage options, expanding the market.
“Both tea and wine drinkers will experience a completely new and innovative way of enjoying tea, which broadens the use of tea and makes it relevant at even more occasions.”
Much of current consumer interest deals with specific brands that offer sparkling tea, with some brands occupying a leading position in the market. For example, “Fortnum and Mason sparkling tea” is searched 720 times per month, 55% more than the second brand occupying consumer interest, “Copenhagen sparkling tea”, which is searched 320 times per month.
Some sparkling tea brands differentiate their sparkling tea products in the market with prestige (e.g., Fortnum and Mason) or prominence (e.g., Lipton sparkling iced tea).
Some early entrants to the sparkling tea market found success by creating sparkling tea that was analogous to other premium beverages, such as champagne and wine. By developing blends of sparking tea difficult to replicate, early movers protected their position in the market and helped premiumize the market as a whole.
“Each tea we use in our sparkling tea is extracted at different temperatures, just like champagne.”
“The sparkling teas made by Jacob Kocemba are carefully crafted. For instance, one of the most popular teas in their range, the BLÅ, is made with a whopping 14 teas, including Earl Grey, Lady Grey, a Fujian tea, green and black teas from Assam, a Darjeeling, and an Indian jasmine tea. All 14 teas are organic and single-origin.”
However, new, smaller entrants to the sparking tea market often attempt product innovation as a means of differentiation. For example, collagen sparkling tea is positioned to benefit the tea drinkers' hair and nail health.
Creating carbonated tea involves brewing tea with hot water and infusing carbon dioxide gas, producing a fizzy drink. The carbonation level of tea is significantly influenced by pressure and temperature; sugar and alcohol also influence carbonation levels.
Carbonation is an important sensory property; it elevates the aroma of sparkling tea and produces a pleasant "tingling" mouthfeel.
The flavour and mouthfeel of the carbonated tea is influenced by the quantity of CO2 dissolved in a beverage. Most soft drinks (e.g., tonic water) are carbonated to 3–3.5 volumes of CO2, and sparkling wine must have greater than 2 volumes of CO2. Sparking tea follows the carbonation conventions established by soft drinks and sparkling wine.
The creation of sparkling tea involves more than adding carbon dioxide to the tea; stabilizers and preservatives are also added. Often, sweeteners, tea concentrate, or dairy or dairy alternatives may be added.
“We developed a tea base concentrate, so our product quality remains consistent. We managed to scale the sensory experience of our product, crafting our tea with stability and shelf life, to capture a margin opportunity.”
Nitrogen tea refers to tea carbonated with nitrogen, and often, smaller amounts of CO2. Nitrogen gas is dense and non-soluble, and the resulting nitrogen bubbles are smaller than carbon dioxide bubbles. Sparking tea made with nitrogen has a creamy mouthfeel and head.
Nitro brew tea draws inspiration from nitro brews, a beer innovation. The application of nitrogen tea is a relatively unsaturated space, presenting an opportunity for early movers. Tea brands that have entered the space typically focus on the ready-to-drink (RTD) segment offering nitro ice tea. A few brands bring innovative brews to the market such as nitro milk tea, nitro chai tea, and nitro matcha green tea.
Nitrogen improves aromatics, adding new dimensions to the tea-drinking experience. Nitro tea takes on a thick, smooth texture and natural creaminess. The natural creaminess achieved by using nitrogen gas allows tea drinkers to avoid using milk or sugar, enabling brands to create healthful products catering to tea trends, and larger trends in the beverage industry.
“Nitro tea is an exciting innovation; it has quickly grown in popularity among consumers in the last five years. The growth of nitro tea is expected to continue. ”
“East Forged teas are cold brewed from organic whole leaf green, black, and white teas. The tea is then enhanced with no-sugar-added juices from natural fruit. A burst of carbon dioxide makes it fizz and a dose of nitrogen gives the tea texture and a creamy head.”
“We’ve taken tea and a small amount of fruit juice, to elevate the flavour profile, and played around with the gases within our sparkling tea. We use nitrogen in our beverages to retain the best flavours of tea, and there’s a small amount of CO2 for carbonation. Each gas works slightly differently with the tea's flavour profile.”
Argon tea is carbonated with argon, a Noble gas; it's a colourless, odourless gas that is inert to other substances. It is the third-most abundant gas in the earth's atmosphere.
Argon has a range of applications, including in the food and beverage industry. Argon may be a more effective gas than nitrogen in the creation of sparkling tea because it's less soluble. However, argon is more expensive for sparkling tea manufacturers to acquire, leading to a lower presence in the market.
Argon is denser than air, protecting the tea from oxidation. When carbonating tea with argon, a small amount of carbon dioxide is also used; this prevents the beverage from being too “flat”.