While many tea aficionados still enjoy the traditional approaches to tea and tea culture, there are also new generations of tea drinkers ready to take tea into modernity. As a 200 billion dollar industry that keeps growing, tea producers and retailers have come up with some fresh and exciting ideas on how to consume tea, and one of those ideas that is rising in popularity is that of “hard tea.”
Basically, hard tea is the opposite of a soft drink, in that it is a tea that combines natural, fruity flavors with alcohol. To be fair, alcohol infused tea (especially iced tea) isn’t something new. Tea was regularly used to dilute alcoholic punch in homes and taverns going as far back as the 1700s. However, the notion of alcoholic tea has resurfaced in recent years as younger generations seek healthier alternatives for the more traditional drinks like beer and wine. This trend started with hard seltzers that were introduced in the U.S. in 2013, and more recently tea has been incorporated to add a bit of organic flavor back into it.
Hard tea is now developing into a category of its own and comes in a number of different varieties and flavors. Firstly, many of the hard tea drinks have benefited from the growth of Ready To Drink (RTD) canned teas, as they taste very similar, but with an alcoholic edge. Then there are hard sparkling teas that use carbonated water combined with tea flavors and an alcoholic kick. The amount of sugar in a hard tea is dependent on the brand and flavor. Speaking about flavors, the classics are black or green tea mixed with a fruity taste and aroma. However, hard tea manufacturers and brands also aim to cater to the tastebuds of their regions, introducing a whole host of flavors based on what is popular. For instance, in the UK gin-based drinks do well while the US market seems to gravitate more towards tequila varieties.
In 2022, the hard tea market value reached over 2 billion dollars, and it looks like it is only increasing further as new hard tea brands are popping up. Some of the key companies who are in the hard tea world are the Boston Beer Company, Pabst Brewing Company, White Claw Hard Seltzer and many more. As health continues to become a priority for many consumers, manufacturers are noticing that lower alcohol percentages in hard teas are winning out, so expect many brands to contain 5% alcohol or less.