TODAY is a day to celebrate the UK’s favourite brew, because it’s National Tea Day.

Tea has been around for centuries, but it’s never seen as much innovation as it’s seeing now. So, what are the tea trends to look out for?


The demand for plastic-free is increasing but about 96% of teabags currently contain polypropylene, a synthetic resin added during the sealing process. High-quality, 100% biodegradable teabags, made of cornstarch have entered the market and the pressure is now on the large tea companies to change over to plastic-free teabags.


Tea’s natural ingredients and minimal calorie content make it an attractive drink. It also contains L-theanine, said to reduce stress and increase alertness. Tea is full of antioxidants, with green tea containing the highest levels of a very potent antioxidant called EGCG – and this has led to an increase in the popularity of green tea and green tea blends.

While the health benefits are inherent to the ingredients used, a definite rise is seen in tea brands marketing their blends as “wellness” choices.


When tea was first introduced to the UK, it was a luxury whole leaf product that only the rich could enjoy. When the teabag was introduced in the early 20th century and as demand grew, the production of tea had to be expanded and purpose-built tea plantations were introduced. These often used machine harvesting and what is known as the cut-tear-curl method. The quality of the tea inside the teabags was of a lower grade. For decades, this lower grade paper teabag continued to be popular across UK households and it still is today.

Change has been happening over the last few years though. Higher quality whole leaf is becoming popular again and, simultaneously, standard black tea is giving way to more novel speciality black tea varieties, green tea and herbal infusions.

Food and tea pairings

Restaurants and bars are seeing a significant increase in demand for alcohol-free drinks. General demand is increasing in line with health concerns and research suggests that millennials drink far less alcohol than previous generations.

Tea has a fantastic ability to complement food dishes with a variety of flavour profiles. For this reason, more and more restaurants now offer a tea and food pairing menu alongside their wine pairing menu.


While English Breakfast and Earl Grey are still favourites, fresh expressions of these classics are becoming popular, such as the smooth and more modern Citrus Grey and The Big Smoke. As the demand for green tea continues to grow, so do its flavour varieties.