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Curiousitea – How one company is giving tea a local twist

28 August 2019 by Food&HotelAsia

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Our taste for teas have evolved over the years, and here’s what Singapore-based Tily Tea is doing to give teas a local twist. 

Teas have been known for being one of the healthiest beverages. Dating back to ancient times, tea has been helmed for all sorts of good, from being a beverage for royalty to being used for medicinal purposes.

The tea industry has however, changed drastically over the years. When we think about tea these days, gone are the images of just green tea, matcha, or oolong; and behold infused tea, fruit teas, milk tea and even fermented variants. The tea scene has without a doubt evolved a tremendously – what are companies doing to meet the changing palates of their consumers?

Tea scene in Singapore

The tea industry has been growing steadily in Singapore over the years and is expected to grow from US$640.7 million last year to US$746.6 million in 2023, a whopping 16.6 per cent increase in revenue in just five years. While milk teas seem to hold the reigning title of the most popular “tea” beverage in Singapore (given the ever long queues at our favourite boba stores) there is a growing demand for traditional teas especially as the generation that grew up with bubble tea transitions into adulthood. According to a survey, tea brands saw 50 per cent of 24-35 year old segment as their biggest growing demographic. This group of consumers are not only looking for good taste, but also the tea experience, the relaxed savour of its natural goodness.

“Tea fits right in with today’s focus on living a present, mindful and purposeful life. We no longer want to just zoom through the day, we want to savour the minutes and give people and our surroundings the attention they deserve – all with a cup of tea in hand. And because tea is associated with being gentler and more thoughtful, it is natural that the quality of ingredients and integrity of a brand define the type of tea that people choose to take home with them.” says Michelle Koh, co-founder of Singapore-based Tily Tea, a brand well known for their range of tonic teas that are not only tasty, but also comes with a wealth of benefits. Tily Tea will be exhibiting in the upcoming FHA-Food & Beverage held 31 March-3 April 2020 at the Singapore Expo.

Teas with a purpose and a local twist

As the society becomes more concerned with the nutritional benefits of what we consume on a daily basis, brands are also paying more attention to the health benefits of what their teas can offer. In fact, teas these days are marketed not by the type of leaves they are made from, but by their key benefits. For example, Night Teas or Beauty teas in an attempt to appeal more to the female crowd who are the main tea drinkers according to a survey conducting by National Tea Day.

With so many teas centred on wellness, Tily Tea takes that to a whole new level by giving it a local twist – using herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).“There is a new generation of consumers who value natural, plant-based consumption. TCM is familiar and trusted, but as we have said before, it was becoming increasingly distant from the modern consumer. A tonic tea that incorporates these ingredients with convenience makes tonic tea a very comfortable and easy conversion for consumers who have not consumed traditional herbs in a while, but are inherently open and eager to rediscover them.”

Caffeine-free tonic tea made with Burdock Root

“Tonic tea is purposeful. It is created with your wellbeing in mind, so every ingredient is carefully considered. At Tily Tea, when formulating a new blend, we study both the benefits and potential risks of all ingredients and make the careful and sometimes painful decision to drop certain ingredients from our formulations because we want to be extremely conservative when it comes to the balance of benefits vs the unknown,” Michelle shares.

Moving forward; a tea philosophy

The thirst for tea is clearly nowhere near quenched, and the concept of tea as we know it is definitely changing. Thanks to the curious taste buds of new age tea drinkers, something is definitely brewing in the tea scene and Tily Tea is right in the heart of this change.

“We love new exciting things being done to tea – it creates a curiosity and opens the minds of consumers to what is possible. By bending the “rules”, tea can be incorporated into all aspects of our lifestyle. We want tea in the hearts and homes of all consumers. We want it to be elegant, we want it to be fun and we want it to be healthy! Sometimes if we are lucky, we can get a combination of all three attributes in a brand. Sometimes we get two out of three, sometimes we excel in just one. That is ok! We want the tea space to grow and innovate. We need everything from the long term players to the fun novelty concepts to create a buzz and hype for this once introverted cousin to come out of her shell with guns blazing!”

While the tea scene in Singapore is still not as big as our British counterparts, we do have our own share of innovative blends. And who knows, they may just have set the standards for the new unique Asian concepts of tea.