Due to the pandemic the world of tea had to adapt like any other business in the world. Tea professional Cortilia Lin from Taiwan sees the rise of bubble tea continue in Asia. Many bubble tea shops have launched alcoholic bubble tea and more people are consuming bubble tea without bubbles. In other words, tea has made its way into the young professionals market through bubble tea, but in the format of ‘bubble tea without bubbles’.”
In 2021, we are of course hopeful that things will move in a more positive direction. International travel would remain a challenge, but vaccines may bring some light to a more “controlled” travel policy which would allow more business owners to take one step further in addressing the global logistics issue. E-commerce and delivery companies in Asia and USA are quickly evolving their businesses to fulfil the rising needs of online ordering and cross-border delivery speed. We are looking forward to seeing the rapid improvements and advancements.
In the digital realm, not only are more sales are moving online, we also notice more digital communications directly from the tea sellers and even farmers to consumers. These communications are packaged in the format of nicely made videos, social influencer posts or even VR experiences would start becoming new branding differentiation for tea farms. With digitisation in such a traditional industry, new creativity would bring about new ideas to promote each farm. I am personally looking to take a bigger role in this space as well.
More emphasis on health and family. The joy of gathering to spend time with families and friends would be a great moment for tea to facilitate. We already see more and more tea shops trying to capture the business of food being essential items during family gatherings and tea could become an integral part of the moment. We are looking at a stronger business outlook in the F&B for 2021 but also expect new concepts to rise after a dark year.
Here in Asia, we see the rise of bubble tea continuing. Many bubble tea shops have launched alcoholic bubble tea and more people are consuming bubble tea without bubbles. In other words, tea has made its way into the young professionals market through bubble tea, but in the format of ‘bubble tea without bubbles’. Given the convenience of bubble tea and the nature of lower rental cost (booths for takeaway rather than sit-down space), bubble tea naturally invests a lot more creativity in visual aesthetics and high quality of ingredients. In addition, bubble tea shops give choices of the type of milk (milk choices may indicate the support to the local dairy farms), the level of sugar (lower sugar level indicates healthier choices), and the level of ice (in the Asian sense, the level of ice also indicates the natural balance of body between cold and warm, hence considered healthy) and of course the choices of the type of tea (reserve a dedicated article on how Asian perceive health benefits of various types of tea).The concept of bubble tea, food, dessert and alcohol is being brought back into the café format. The example would be Signature by KOI in Singapore, where KOI is a brand originated from Taiwan.
The aesthetics dimension of bubble tea also drives the emergence of bubble tea and tea mixology. Moreover, healthy ingredients are added such as Clitoria ternatea which would provide health benefits suggested by alternative medicine theories and naturing coloring effects on both the tea and the bubbles. An example would be the brand ‘One Zo’. Therefore, unlike the narrowly defined ‘functional tea’ in the Western world, Asian market is piloting new ingredients, new fermentations, as well as a candid balance of sugar, ice, milk and choices of tea to reach the health benefits per individuals’ post COVID inspirations!
About Cortilia Lin:
Cortilia has decided to support the development of the tea industry in the broader professional training content by creating a virtual reality start-up – Kyalio. Cortilia and Kyalio team work on Mixed Reality for professional training and education, aiming to bring more cross-border educational content online and promote tea training and stories in a new level of imagination. With 15 years of experience in technologies and innovative design thinking across three continents, Cortilia will be bringing ‘Stories about Tea’ with even more flavour in the future.