English Tea Shop has established itself in the field of organic teas and specialised festive tea gifting with over 200 products and 60 tea blends, but has more recently expanded beyond its original tea focus to look at the development of what it call gin botanicals.
These are ‘dipped’ into gin for around five minutes before adding any other desired mixers such as tonic water.
“The popularity of these gin botanicals has quite frankly grown to a level where we are also quite surprised, as these just came about a couple of years back,” English Tea Shop CEO Suranga Herath told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“The focus was initially on where we could go next with our wide botanicals range as these were already being used in our many tea blends, and there was already some very interesting growth in how brands were using botanicals in various types of alcohol from gin to vodka to whiskey to tequila.
“Then gin really burst into the limelight and grew in popularity amongst consumers, and with its already botanically-oriented profile, we realised that we actually already had both the required expertise and equipment in-house, similar to that used to make our cold-brew teas, that could create products that tied in very nicely.
“Even more importantly, we saw the drinking trends moving from just hard liquor drinking towards softer cocktails, where again gin was becoming an increasingly popular choice, particularly amongst younger consumers.”
The process of making cold brew teas requires a special treatment in order to ensure that the drinks are safe for consumption, particularly in the area of antimicrobial treatment, due to the lack of heat that goes into the final product before consumption. And this same process has now been applied to creating its gin botanicals range.
“The idea was to both enhance the gin drinking experience with an even more botanical infusion as botanicals are at the core of what gin-drinkers appreciate, and also to enable them to have increased access to these cocktails at home,” he added.
“We already know how bartenders make these cocktails to maximise the taste and experience, and this tends to require quite a lot of effort and not every consumer has the luxury of being able to make these at home, or even wants to focus on elements [beyond] the botanical experience.
“So with these gin botanicals, the idea is for consumers to be able to enjoy that botanical blend at home and conveniently brew their own cocktails – all that is needed is to dip this blend into the gin for about five minutes, then add tonic or any other desired ingredient, and that will be a ready gin cocktail.
“There is also the element of healthier drinking in this, as the added botanicals cuts down on the need for stronger [liquors or sugary additions], and with consumers becoming more health focused today and trying to limit themselves to softer cocktails or even infused waters, this is a means of still getting that enjoyment but in a better way.”
The gin botanicals range varies across the 25 markets that it is currently in, but all generally contain a strong mix such as its Orange Cinnamon & Ginger which gives spice and citrus; and its Apple, Hibiscus and Cranberry which focuses on fruity and tart flavours.
The firm has initially experimented with the gin botanicals range in western markets where alcohol is more regularly consumed, and is looking at expanding to more international markets similar to its tea category expansion strategy.
“With our teas, we already have presence in over 60 countries worldwide and although we started in the United Kingdom and Europe initially, over the past couple of years we have been expanding rapidly in Asian markets including Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and more,” Herath said.
“Without a doubt we would say APAC is our second biggest region, and we are already in the various supermarkets here such as NTUC FairPrice and Cold Storage in Singapore, not to mention the various online platforms as well.
“So for the gin botanicals, we are in a good 25 markets currently and have started trialling in more geographies too, though it is likely to take a while before these become properly widely available in all the markets we have created a presence in.”
The firm’s tea products are also available in other big retail outlets such as Annam Gourmet in Vietnam and Robinsons in the Philippines, as well as Lazada and Shopee platforms in these markets.