British tea company, Ahmad Tea, predicts move to speciality teas and premiumisation in 2016

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Ahmad Tea, a leading British tea company, is predicting a new and exciting time for the UK tea industry in 2016, which include iced teas, dessert teas and the rise of loose leaf.

Tea has long been hailed as a great British institution, however, though the UK may still be seen as the hub of the world when it comes to having a brew, the way tea is perceived and consumed in Britain is far behind compared with the rest of the world.

The privately owned company, which began 30 years ago, by brothers, with the sole purpose of bringing affordable, but high quality tea to the world, forecasts an elevation in the consumption of specialty teas going far beyond the UK’s current offering.Led by Managing Director Rahim Afshar and now in the third generation of the Afshar family, Ahmad Tea is the third largest international tea brand and employs over 700 staff across 7 sites worldwide.

Founded and headquartered in Hampshire with currently over 300 SKUs in its portfolio, ranging from loose leaf, tea bags, black and green teas as well as luxury caddies and tea gifts for which the brand is famed for. The international tea brand’s extensive experience within the industry and a strong grasp on the food and drink trends around the globe, allows it to go one step further when developing new products, setting trends as opposed to following them, by introducing products such as Tea Caddies to the UK market.

Exporting to around 80 countries, Ahmad Tea is already a household name in many parts of the world. Over the years, it has succeeded in raising the standard of mainstream tea in major tea drinking countries and regions, including Russia, the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.  Since launching three decades ago, the brand has gone from strength to strength and currently estimates that it sells around 25 million cups of tea a day worldwide. Very impressive for a brand that is founded on a basis of love and passion for tea, and a ‘start-up’ in comparison to its major competitors.

Taste and quality is still at the heart of everything it does and with over 25 tea tasters around the world Ahmad Tea are experts in their craft. The tea brand has looked to the year ahead to give us some insight into the tea trends for 2016 and the direction the category is headed.

Ali Afshar, UK general manager, said: “2016 will see a continuation and expansion in the shift towards speciality teas, as consumers increase their appreciation and knowledge of the quality and variety that teas and infusions can offer.

“The UK market has a long way to go to catch up with major speciality tea drinking countries in terms of the quality, variety and innovation offered on the tea shelf. For instance, in countries as diverse as the USA and Russia, there are product subcategories that are almost unknown in the UK mainstream, such as dessert teas, cold brew teas, and a wide array of tea gifts. We know first-hand the untapped potential of tea in the UK.”

The company believes that innovation in flavours, formats and occasions, in addition to the well-known health benefits of tea will result in an expansion of the speciality segment.

“Our aim as a company, and as an industry over the long term, is to bring people back to tea, which has so much more to offer than coffee as a hot (or cold) drink.”

The market looks to also be heading to a premiumisation with tea. Afshar said:  “There will be a return to loose leaf as consumers want more depth of flavour and a luxurious experience when drinking tea, setting it apart from everyday tea.”

It seems the market place for tea is heading in the same direction as coffee, with a variant of flavours suitable for different occasions and different brewing methods to suit ones needs, whether that be for your everyday teabag for an instant cup or a pot of loose leaf for more formal occasions.