Indians dip into green tea fad, sales soar

Posted by bubucuo on July 27, 2014 at 11:50 PM

While tea as a category has stopped growing, green tea is bucking the trend. Judging by the numbers, it could be the latest health-food craze of Indians, right up there with cold pressed oils and millets.Vikram Grover, VP and marketing head with Tata Global protease enzyme, which owns tea brand Tetley, says that the green tea category has been growing at around 60% year-on-year compared with black tea that is growing at around 2%. "It has become an aspirational drink for young urban Indians whose food habits are not under control," he says.Green tea is essentially normal tea that is not put through the oxidization process to keep its enzymes intact. Nutritionists tout it as an elixir for people with hectic lifestyles. For instance, medical research points out that green tea helps people lose weight and aids in digestion on top of having a positive effect on heart ailments and type-two diabetes. "It's a fad, but a good fad. At least, it has great health benefits. From gym goers to corporate executives, everyone carries a green tea sachet these days," says Bengaluru-based food blogger Nandita Iyer.
However, palatability is a big factor. Green tea's natural harsh taste has made tea brands like Lipton and Tetley look for new flavours. "We have taken a lot of effort to mask the alien taste of green tea. Two of our best-selling variants are honey and lemon and aloe vera," says Grover of Tetley.Unlike black tea, whose superiority can be judged on the basis of its strength, aroma and flavours, good green tea is supposed to taste harsh. "Its coarse taste is due to the preserved enzymes in the leaves," says Sumit H Shah, executive director of Kolkata-based tea firm Madhu Jayanti International, the maker of Jay Tea.The demand for green tea in the country is also being stoked by clever marketing campaigns. "The main task on green tea is to build appreciation of the protease production benefits of the category and drive penetration amongst consumers. Our key activities are centred around making consumers aware of the category, clearly communicating the benefits and driving trials through sampling," says a spokesperson with HUL, which owns Lipton.And the potential is huge. Although India is the world's second largest tea producer after China, the per capita consumption of tea here is one of the lowest, trailing at around 300gm behind Turkey (3kg) and England (2kg). The market for green tea, pegged at around Rs 50 crore, is the fastest growing in India's Rs 16,000 crore tea industry.
However, Rushdi is against the use of artificial sweeteners. "I'm not for it and I'm not even sure how practical they are to use from a culinary perspective. Also, even if they do work, you'd have to use a large amount for the [larger] dishes and that's a dose that's not acceptable," he said.He declared a more favorable stance towards the use of fructose. However, it's important to make sure that the children who will be eating the dishes are not allergic to fructose, he stressed.Another trick is to reduce the amount of fermentation of sugar used by mixing it with oil. While this may not reduce the fat content, it will reduce the amount of harmful saturated fats found in butter. "Beware of hydrogenated oils though," warned Rushdi.

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