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Wellness Trend Swaps Coffee for This Calming Cup of Tea

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As wellness rises, tea beverage sales steadily increase due to a growing number of people opting for tea over other beverages. While there are various ways to enjoy tea, such as visiting a “tea omakase” that allows you to enjoy multiple types of tea with simple snacks or “tea classes,” overconsumption can negatively impact your health.

Increase in Tea Beverage Sales

According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, last year’s tea beverage sales amounted to approximately 400 billion won (about $340 million). The trend of increasing tea beverage sales is consistent, and this figure only includes offline retail sales from larger supermarkets and convenience stores. The market size is expected to grow if online channel sales are added.

What’s the difference between “Tea” and “Cha”?

Westerners call “cha” (茶) “tea.” “Cha” also originates from China, as tea was distributed mainly through Guangdong (by land) and Fujian (by sea). Countries that received tea through Guangdong called it “cha,” following the local dialect of Guangdong, and Europe, which received tea through Fujian, called it “te,” following the regional dialect of Fujian. This has evolved into today’s “tea.”

Driven by Healthy Pleasure Trend

The “Healthy Pleasure” trend, which seeks to manage health more enjoyably, is cited as a reason for the growing tea market. As interest in wellness has increased, demand for tea, which has fewer calories than sugary beverages, has grown. The popularity of mixing black tea with whiskey or soju has contributed to increased black tea sales.

Tea Omakase is Also Popular

With the “small luxury” trend, where people find satisfaction in small indulgences during an economic downturn, tea omakase, which costs around 50,000 won (about $43) per person, is also gaining popularity. Omakase, a Japanese term meaning “leave it to the chef,” refers to a course meal where you eat what the chef serves. In the case of tea omakase, you pay 40,000 to 50,000 won per person to taste various teas and traditional snacks.

Tea Ceremony Experience is also Noteworthy.

Experiencing tea ceremonies involving the process of brewing and drinking tea is becoming more popular. Tea ceremony experiences were mainly targeted at foreign tourists, but it has seen a surge in popularity among younger generations as a healing method. Beyond learning how to drink tea, the tea ceremony experience teaches patience, and brewing tea calms the mind and brings peace, making it a recommended experience for adults and children alike.

The Steadily Growing Domestic Tea Market

Tea was often associated as a beverage that older generations appreciated more. Because many tools were needed for tea ceremonies, the usage was complex, and brewing tea required time, it created a strong perception that it wasn’t an easily consumable beverage. As awareness of excessive sugar and caffeine consumption began to increase, tea started to regain popularity.

Can You Drink Water Like Water?

Drinking water without consideration can harm health. Tea containing caffeine is especially not suitable for watering water. While caffeine has the advantage of increasing metabolism, it can interfere with sleep and stimulate the secretion of gastric acid, potentially causing gastric ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Green tea, black tea, Pu’er tea, etc., are appropriate in three cups per day in limited quantities. Corn silk tea and cassia seed tea are also unsuitable as water substitutes, as they can promote diuretic action and potentially cause dehydration.

Grain tea can be a water substitute.

Barley or brown rice tea, which are grain-based teas, are acceptable as water substitutes unless there are specific side effects. They are free of caffeine and sugar and are rich in dietary fiber and minerals. Dietary fiber protects the gastric mucosa and improves intestinal function, while minerals balance the electrolytes in our body. However, caution is necessary if kidney function is weak as potassium excretion ability and body water metabolism may be reduced.

Coffee Shops are Also Expanding Tea Lineup

As tea sales skyrocket, coffee shops are also expanding their beverage lineups. For instance, Starbucks has recorded over a million cumulative sales with its Classic Milk Tea, and since the launch of Classic Milk Tea, sales in the tea latte category have grown dramatically. Ediya Coffee also saw an increase in traditional tea product sales in line with the granny-style trend, and traditional sweets that pair well with conventional tea also showed high sales rates.

Preference For Easy-to-Drink Tea Over Functional Tea

Until now, sales of specific types of tea, such as Houttuynia and corn silk tea, have been at the top. Houttuynia tea was famous as a hangover cure, and corn silk tea gained popularity through V-line advertisements, promoting its functional aspects for skin beauty. However, after COVID-19, the frequency of drinking decreased, and the variety of hangover remedies increased, resulting in a decrease in the popularity of Houttuynia tea. Now, barley tea, which fits the original purpose of beverages to replenish fluids, has become the representative player of tea beverages. Thus, in the future, the demand for black tea that can be quickly drunk or mixed with alcohol is expected to increase more than functional tea beverages.

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