Every year I write this article with enthusiasm for a world of possibilities for tea in the coming year, but this year is a little different. 2020 is a leap year, which means an extra 24 hours for tea, which is the only predictable positive trend I see for the year. Due to several different factors I believe there is much up in the air about what tea trends will come out for this year.

The last part of 2019 was hard on small tea business. Summer retail sales were slower than expected. This means that tea business owners may not be investing in new projects. In addition, these business owners may be facing challenges in finding a quality supply for their products.

New FDA regulations, Chinese tariffs, and climate change have posed great uncertainty to the quality and supply of tea. The new FDA regulations are putting specialty tea imports at risk as they now will need to be produced under the same food safety standard as the USA. It’s been announced recently that the import tariff on Chinese tea will not be as harsh as when originally launched in 2019, but now with the Wuhan coronavirus shutting down the country and work of China it is unknown how it will impact business for the upcoming Spring harvest. Finally, climate change has added an extreme unpredictability of the weather which dictates much about when tea will be harvested and processed and the quality of the made product. Tea business owners are scrambling to find reliable sources and maintain quality due to these issues.

In a time of unpredictability we should expect to see much change to tea such as price and quality. Other changes we should expect to see are in packaging material. Last year the mass media spread the misfortunate news about microplastics in tea bags which has caused the industry to innovate. Don’t be surprised to see the tea bag of your favorite tea change multiple times in the near future as the industry has yet to come up with the perfect environmental option. Ultimately, I think consumers and tea business owners are realizing that the convenience of the tea bag may not be worth the suppressed quality or health hazard, which may cause more innovations in marketing loose leaf tea.

Environmentalism is important to the consumer this year, so expect to see other innovations of packaging including recycled/reused materials and non-single use packaging. You may also see more focus in the marketing of your teas on the environmental impact of the growing of the tea. If you are concerned about these issues, don’t be hesitant to ask the brand or shop owner more about the environmental impact of the tea you are drinking. You can follow this guide as a standard of transparency on these issues.

2020 will be a fun year for tea with unknown innovations and new ideas. Enjoy your additional 24 hours of tea drinking!

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