By Allison Zisko
The market for tea-related products in housewares is heating up.
According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., the tea industry in the U.S. continues to flourish, with a wholesale value of roughly $10 billion in retail sales last year. New types of tea, new formulations of tea (particularly the growth of ready-to-drink tea) and the growth of non-traditional channels of distribution for tea, including mass merchants, drug stores and other venues, all spell opportunity for those who manufacture teapots, insulated to-go cups, infusers and more.
"Tea is one of the hottest things trending," said Allison Hickey, chief marketing officer for the Kamenstein and DFL divisions of Lifetime Brands. In March, Lifetime Brands acquired La Cafetiere, a British company that designs and distributes products to brew and serve coffee and tea under the La Cafetiere and Randwyck brands. Well known in Europe and the U.K., La Cafetiere and Randwyck are expected to provide a platform from which to build Lifetime's presence in the coffee, tea and chocolate businesses in the U.S.
"Consumers are realizing the health benefits of tea as a 'superfood,'" Hickey said. "As consumers look to better their health and wellness, the category is focused on developing products that support this effort, with infusers that allow the user to use loose-leaf tea or to add fruits and other ingredients to their drinks. In addition, glass is a favorite material for teapots, as it allows tea drinkers seeking a more personalized experience to stop brewing at the right moment. From hot to cold, tea is becoming an 'on the go' staple as well as an at-home ritual."
"The tea products market is growing as people are discovering the health benefits of tea and the many different types and flavors available," said Frederic Aird, Trudeau product development manager. Tea served cold is also very popular as it follows the growing trend of flavor-enhanced water, Aird noted, and has led to the rise of more double-walled, on-the-go products that maintain temperature with no sweat or condensation and can re-infuse. Other trends, according to Aird, include the rising popularity of ceramic, stainless-steel and glass products; the ability to control the level of infusion; and accessories like vacuum tea containers, measuring spoons, trays and timers.
"As the demand of tea, especially loose-leaf ones, is rising, more and more people look for professional tea accessories," said Shirley Sun, marketing manager for ceramics maker Loveramics. "A good teapot or tea cup offers tea lovers a wonderful moment to enjoy brewing and sipping."
Nambe Gourmet has expanded its assortment with a strong coffee and tea statement that includes two new tea kettles--one white porcelain, the other metal--with built-in infusers for loose tea, a mug tree, a glass and metal honey pot and this new Bulbo standing steeper designed by Lou Henry, crafted from wood and metal. nambe.com
Lifetime Brands The La Cafetiere Stainless Steel Le Teapot brews delicate loose-leaf teas and herbal drinks, hot or cold. Le Teapot has a heat-resistant, borosilicate glass "bowl" and features a stainless-steel frame with a waved edge that gives the teapot a sleek, modern design. The teapot has a removable filter basket so it can also be used with tea bags. The teapot is not intended for stove-top use. lifetimebrands.com
Loveramics Weave is a Scandinavian-inspired tea glass set comprised of a borosilicate glass mug capable of holding boiling water and an easy-to-pick-up, insulating porcelain infuser in one of four pastel colors. The lid of the infuser doubles as a coaster for the infuser. loveramics.com
Trudeau Corp. Combining tea tradition with modern technology, Trudeau's Flip Tea Infuser makes steeping loose tea simple and stylish. After filling the infuser with loose tea, the user pushes on the brightly colored lid and sets it on top of a mug. With a rim that doubles as a drip catcher, it can be flipped over for no-mess use after the tea is infused. Constructed with stainless steel and available in three eye-catching colors, this dishwasher-safe infuser is designed to fit onto any regular size mug and retails for $19.99. trudeaucorp.com