STiR coffee and tea magazine

Volume 3, Number 2

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38 STiR tea & coffee industry international C anada's tea drinkers were influenced almost exclusively by the country's Brit- ish heritage for three centuries but the influx of immigrants in the past 25 years and a growing preference for specialty tea and herbals make this one of the most diverse and innovative tea markets in the world. Black English breakfast blends were drunk hot with milk, and possibly sugar, from traditional tea cups and mugs and this remains the favorite of Ontario and Quebec which have the largest numbers of tea drinkers and the greatest concentration of heavy drinkers (defined as taking 16 or more cups a week). Today, the Canadian demograph- ic includes not just families who migrated there from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland but a growing number of people from China, Hong Kong, the Indian sub- continent and Eastern Europe. British Columbia is now home to 14% of the country's heavy tea drinkers. For example, Vancouver's residents today include Chinese and Korean families; Toronto is home to groups from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; Montreal's demo- graphic includes people from south and south east Asia, Arab states, China, Korea and Japan. As in other countries, the tea preferences, traditions, and rituals of those many and varied ethnic groups have gradually influenced Canada's tea drinking habits. As Louise Roberge, president of the Tea Association of Canada, says, "Canada's changing face has had an impact on the awareness and availability of tea; neighbors are sharing experiences and we now celebrate events, such as Chinese New Year, Diwali, etc. in way that never happened in the past. We have always drunk hot tea in Canada so it's not hard for us to relate to the hot tea drinking traditions of other cultures." A changing balance in the consumption patterns of different age groups is also having an effect on the tea market. As Shabnam Weber, president and ceo of The Tea Emporium, Toronto, explained, "The younger generation is looking for an alternative to the carbonated drinks and coffee that their parents traditionally drink and so are attracted to tea, particularly flavored tea. At the same time, retiring baby boomers are looking for a healthy way to stay fit and live longer. They still want to drink caffeine and so are moving away from coffee and towards tea." Roberge agrees and adds that, "Studies show that tea is seen as a relaxing drink, so for retired people it's a 7 day a week drink. And as people realize that you can only drink so much wine, tea is the obvious alternative, with tea being the choice of men as well as women." Canada's Passion for Specialty Tea Sales of hot tea in Canada are increasing year on year with the specialty sector showing the biggest growth. What's driving this positive trend, who are the main players and what are consumers drinking? Canada is one of the few places in the world where specialty tea sales top conventional Steeped Tea's Tonia and Hatem Jahshan. By Jane Pettigrew

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