From Buckthorn to Blueberry, Tetley blender Mark Donovan is Tetley’s fruit and herbal infusions expert. Mark talks to the Tea Academy to explain why these continue to increase in popularity, and how they form part of a broader experience out of home.
“I’ve worked in the tea industry for decades, but it was fruit and herbal blends that were the real draw for me. With more than 450 plants liscenced to make tea, and only 60 regularly used, the world is your oyster.
“Fruit and herbal teas, or botanicals, as they’re sometimes known, are also one of the highest growth areas in the market. With 10-15% growth every year, more people than ever are exploring these blends.
“Ten years ago, people looked to these infusions because they were caffeine free. Now, taste is a driving factor too, as companies like Tetley are offering blends packed with flavour. Health-consciousness is still a major driver too, as these naturally sweet blends can be enjoyed without sugar.
“Offering blends like Camomile and Redbush has become an expectation, but consumers are still looking for something exotic to try too. When blending the new Tetley Mood Infusions range, we created a fusion of unusual ingredients like sweet blackberry leaves, nettle leaves and liquorice root.
“Giving customers something new to taste is part of delivering the tea drinking experience consumers look for out of home. I’ve been working to deliver this point of difference with Tetley Mood Infusions Warmth, which has lovely smoky notes from the Redbush which complement the inclusion of orange blossom, star anise and cinnamon, making it feel warming and wholesome.
“Outlets looking to build an experience around tea can look at ways it can be introduced alongside their food offer. Serving tea after a meal or as a palate cleanser adds value and can enhance the occasion. Take a look at what food is on your menu and compare these to different blends. For example, Serenity brings all the flavours of the east, with its lemongrass and schisandra fruit, so matches well with Asian cuisine.
“It’s crucial to ask staff to try the teas on your menu so that they can make recommendations to customers. As well as experiencing the flavours, make them aware of the ingredients that are in each bag, as these really do shine through. Once you’ve infused passion in your staff, offer the blends to customers by including tasting notes on your menus. Don’t be afraid to create a romance around your tea offer – it’s a category that’s worth falling in love with!”
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