Flavours, packaging innovations to attract tea-drinkers

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Guwahati, Feb 5 (PTI) From 'fiery bhut jolokia' to premixes, tea drinkers are being spoilt for choice in terms of flavours available for them, with value-addition and innovation going beyond just adding a few species to zing up the taste.

Packaging of tea in attractive bags and containers has also caught on with the industry as it tries to attract younger generations and also position itself as a preferred beverage among all sections.

"We are trying to provide an experience to the tea drinker where the taste will linger in their mouths. We curate and blend, and make an end product which people will cherish to drink and will also contribute to their health," Ranjit Baurah, director of Aromica Tea, said.

Aromica Tea, which sources its tea leaves, spices and other ingredients mostly from small growers in Assam, innovates with the flavours added to the traditional tea.

"We have our range of green tea and strong black tea as also those infused with lemon grass, ginger, etc. Going a step further, we have introduced 'fiery bhut jolokia' flavoured tea where we have used the 'ghost chilli' as one of the added ingredients," Baruah said, offering sips of the latest innovation to participants at an international tea meet here recently.

He claimed that the health benefits of the value-added teas, besides the flavour, are a major draw for the consumers, especially post-COVID pandemic.

Echoing Baruah, Sujata Roychoudhury, an executive at Goodricke Tea said, "We are now trying to cater to niche markets of a different category. There are people with active lifestyles and those who engage in a lot of physical activities. We have come out with teas that have extra benefits for them.

As the younger generations mostly form this segment of consumers, premixes introduced recently have been a major draw, she said, adding, "Premixes, which one needs to just add hot water to, are opening up wider range of teas for the younger generations to try.

Arka Narayan Dey, business development head of Chai Chun, which offers over 150 products in the value-added segment besides traditional tea from its own plantations, also maintained that premixes will be the future, especially for the younger generations.

"New generations are attracted to new variations, be it in the form of premixes or flavoured tea," he said, while adding that the connoisseurs of 'traditional tea' continue to form a large base of consumers for the industry.

"Single garden teas, which are known for their exclusivity, are very popular among both new and older generations. A large number of tea drinkers still like to have it the 'authentic' way by brewing it, without infusing other ingredients," Denise Anthony, a senior executive of Goodricke, added.

"But in order to expand the consumer base, we are trying to add different 'spices' to cater to different palates and get more people to take up tea drinking," she added.

Besides the value-addition to the flavours, the industry is also exploring presenting tea as a preferred gift item.

"Tea has become a part of gifting culture, especially on occasions like Mother's Day, Teachers' Day," Roychoudhury said.

While the bigger players like Goodricke and Chai Chun have their range of tea gift sets, including options for corporate gifting, start-ups like Aromica Tea are also not left behind in targeting this segment.

"Value-addition in tea is no longer limited to flavours. People are looking for new options in packaging also, like tea packed in a reusable container, plantable seed packet or other eco-friendly packaging products," Baruah said.

"Tea has been part of Indian culture and it will continue to be so, with innovations and value-addition helping in getting new generations of tea drinkers on board," Roychoudhury added. PTI SSG RG