Craft culture has taken a strong hold on lifestyle and food. We have craft beer, craft wines, craft whiskeys, and even craft cheeses. Each of these has a dedicated and intense form of fellowship and vernacular to keep out the riffraff and bolster the true believers. Now, we can add craft tea to the mix.
Down in Australia, a movement is brewing. For the last three years, there have been festivals for tea, and they’ve been showcasing tea of every imaginable flavor and origin. One company, T2, has been dominating the Australian market with speciality teas. Then they were bought out by Unilever. Now, Unilever is ready to take T2’s teas global.
Unilever has positioned itself in a growing market as tea sales have risen 14%. 87% of millennials drink tea before they drink coffee, which has given Unilever great confidence in the future of craft tea leaves. The most important aspect of the trend, of course, is the branding.
Unilever has retained the signature look of T2’s stores – black and orange walls dressed with Chinese newspaper print – and is stocking a range of more than 200 teas as well as tea pots, cups and accessories.
So what exactly is Craft Tea? With T2, it’s a “luxury” experience starting with the in-store atmosphere. Loose teas are sniffed for their aroma and weighed out. You can make speciality blends as prescribed by in-store tea “experts.” You, of course, need to be able to brew the loose-leaf tea when you get home, so there’s the ancillary sales of teapots and steepers. And there’s a whole language to describe the teas and processes you have to learn.
Basically, just think about all the pomp and arrogance around craft beer, but applied to tea. The main difference is this isn’t a mom and pop operation like most of craft beer. This is a massive corporation taking a product worldwide.
The first shop has already opened in New York. Could your city be next?
(Via The Guardian)