So there’s the difference: At the local-specialty-grocery-store-level tea is very likely to be underrepresented, while coffee isn’t. That’s probably accurate. To cite a related example, the main national tea outlet chain, Teavana — owned by Starbucks — was closed about two years ago. More recently, Unilever has been reported as considering getting out of the tea industry (owner of Lipton, PG Tips, Tazo, and the T2 chain), although they did just officially deny other related reporting two months ago, so who knows.
Where I live — in Bangkok — the limitation in demand and awareness stands out more than development of that range does, but there are a few specialty cafes that serve as exceptions.
That article cites awareness as the main issue, along with prepared tea not being as well-suited for fast production and distribution or as high in caffeine level. The awareness part seems right: Even among tea interest groups on Facebook some people explore broadly and deeply related to tea types and culture (as in the Gong Fu Cha group), and others emphasize focus on flavored blends or teabag version consumption (as in the Tea Drinkers group). I comment in both, and also helped co-found an even larger themed group there, International Tea Talk, so that continuum is familiar. Artisanal or craft tea demand (or specialty tea – how I tend to phrase that) probably isn’t as common as interest in blends and flavored tea.
From the perspective of a tea enthusiast, maybe more people should learn about and appreciate better tea; because it is a diverse, pleasant, healthy, and exceptional value beverage choice. Or maybe they shouldn’t, according to some – for rarer tea types only so much is produced (or had been made in the past, related to aged teas), and increasing demand may increase pricing levels. I tend to also support producer interests, and think that expanded production could accommodate higher demand; so I don’t worry about that part. General interest and demand ramps up so slowly that it’s largely a non-issue anyway.
I’ll keep supporting tea awareness — as others do — and it seems likely that at some point it will “take off,” and seem more like a movement.
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