US consumers are increasingly likely to try beverages and flavors from around the world. According to Packaged Facts, the US is a “fertile ground for cross-cultural beverage developments” because of its history as a nation of immigrants, and not even a decrease in immigration is likely to change that.
Packaged Facts revealed in its recent US Beverage Market Outlook 2018 report that four specific tea types are having a major moment among US consumers: matcha, moringa, sencha and mizudashi.
David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said “Teas are a beverage category in which the appeal of foreign ingredients plays a role. US tea consumers are currently enjoying the varieties ... that have long been staples of Japanese and other Asian cultures.”
“In the US these are marketed as individual types and also used as components in tea beverages that have [been] additionally flavored with fruits and spices. Each of these teas also are favored for their widely recognized health benefits, which is attractive to today's consumers who are trending away from surgary soft drinks and juices."
Matcha is the most well-known ingredient on the list and has been a part of the mainstream US beverage scene for a few years. It’s popular in coffee and tea drinks and is also seen as an out-of-the-box flavor for things like ice cream, smoothies and cheesecake.
It’s most popular in Japan and China, and as a very nutritional form of green tea, it’s sought after for its high levels of potassium, magnesium, vitamins A and C and fiber. It’s also concentrated in the valuable and caffeinated amino acid L-theanine. Matcha offers a long list of benefits including boosting energy and the immune system.
Moringa is a very similar ingredient to matcha that hails from India. Moringa tea is still on the fringe of the American mainstream but may soon break through as the matcha hype dies down. It’s most often consumed through the traditional brewing method and hasn’t yet made its way in force to the ready-to-drink (RTD) market of lattes and smoothies in the US.
Made from the leaves of the moringa oleifera tree, this tea is rich in antioxidants and provides 'increased energy and rapid recovery after exercise, mental and emotional balance, and healthy blood sugar levels,' according to Packaged Facts.
Though still quite new to the US market, sencha is the most popular green tea variety in Japan, its country of origin. It’s available in traditional tea bags, loose tea and in powder form. Very few US companies offer it and most sencha teas sold in the US are imports from Japan. However, Sencha Tea Bar in Minneapolis, Minn. and Madison, Wis. brews a variety of rare teas including strains of sencha.
Sencha has higher levels of antioxidants than matcha does. It also contains catechins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, folic acid, saponins and potassium that can help lower high cholesterol and protect oral health.
Iced tea is nothing new, but the method of cold brewing beverages like coffee is slightly different. The popularity of the process is spreading into teas, resulting in a smoother and less bitter taste that better preserves the health benefits of the tea. Mizudashi is the authentic Japanese cold brew process used by Japanese tea marketer ITO EN. Its lineup of ice-steeped cold brew RTD teas launched in the US in 2017.