Specialty teas are trending right now. Fresh brewed hot tea, iced tea, flavored and fruit infused teas all have a place in the bakery cafe. If you already offer coffee—and if you don’t, you should—adding tea to your beverage lineup is a must. A report titled, Today’s Specialty Food Consumer 2013, from the Specialty Food Association and Mintel states that the ready-to-drink specialty tea and coffee segment grew 18% between 2010 and 2012, especially tea drinks.

Growing tea

The growth in popularity of flavored teas closely follows the existing and continuous trend of health and wellness. “People are looking for a healthier drink option, so they’re trading away from sugary drinks to something that’s a little better for you,” says Lisette Gaviña-Lopez of Gaviña Gourmet Coffee. “A flavored iced tea offers something interesting and flavorful without the sugar high sugar content.”

Gaviña Gourmet Coffee has seen the trend and launched four new iced tea products as a result. “It’s been a significant portion of our growth over the last few months because we actually launched four new items,” Gaviña-Lopez says. “Four new iced tea items that are all on this flavored tea trend, that’s really where our recent growth has come from.”

The primary reason for offering iced tea in the bakery is profitability. “One 3 oz packet makes 3 gal,” Gaviña-Lopez says. “Based on a $1.50 price point for a 16 oz cup of iced tea, the profit margin would be 87%, or more, and you’re giving your consumers something that they are looking for, something that’s better for you with less sugar.”

What to carry

With the existing popularity of iced tea and the growth that it’s seeing, retail bakeries should be carrying at least one—probably two or three would be better— tea offering if they are not already. “I would say a minimum on the iced tea side is at least two offerings. It really depends on your customer base, but if I had to say, in general I would recommend at least one regular flavored black tea and also a flavored option to capitalize on this fruit flavored trend,” Gaviña-Lopez says. If tea is a more important product for your customers a nice third option would be an herbal tea, she adds.

Right now, according to in-house reports from Gaviña Gourmet Coffee, as well as outside trend reports, berry flavored teas and traditional iced teas continue to trend up and grow. “Something with tartness in it is definitely something we’re seeing much more of,” Gaviña-Lopez says. “And then green tea because there have been a lot of health benefits sited, health reports and studies done for green tea. The popularity of green tea continues to drive sales for that item on iced tea as well as hot tea.”

Hot variety

In addition to the iced teas, hot teas carry as much, or more, importance to the retail bakery beverage line up. “Hot tea is also very important,” Gaviña-Lopez says. “I would say that with hot tea you need more variety than iced tea.” Carrying a larger variety of hot tea poses less of a problem for the bakery than does a larger variety of iced teas.

“It’s easier for a shop to have more varieties of hot teas because you brew the hot tea to order, where with iced tea you brew it in large batches and sell it by the cup,” Gaviña-Lopez says. For iced teas, it’s in a bakery’s best interest not to have more variety than what people are buying, she adds. “But with hot tea you can add more variety. What we recommend is somewhere between four and eight flavors, a mix of black, green and herbal.”

Future tea trends

As with the natural ingredient trend in the food world, Gaviña-Lopez believes this trend will continue in the tea world. On the hot tea side especially, teas containing actual bits of fruit in the tea bag will grow in popularity, “whether it’s berries or coconut,” she says. Also, infusions with liquid flavor will grow as well, but with the hot teas it will be the fruit bits. “The ‘eye candy’ is becoming much more important with what the customer sees in the hot tea bags,” Gaviña-Lopez says. “That’s where a lot of those natural ingredients come from.”

Tea types

Black tea- Black tea is the tea most people know since you likely grew up dipping tea bags of black tea in your cup (or enjoyed this tea from an iced tea pitcher in the South).

Green tea- Green tea is the most popular type of tea, mainly because it is the beverage of choice in Asia. Some loose green teas are scented with flowers or mixed with fruits to create scented or flavored teas.

White tea- White tea is the purest and least processed of all teas.  This loose leaf tea brews a light color and flavor.

Oolong tea- Oolong tea, also known as wu long tea, is full-bodied with a flavorful fragrance and sweet aroma.  Most people commonly recognize oolong tea as the Chinese tea served in Chinese restaurants.

Herbal tea- Herbal tea does not contain any leaves from the Camellia plant family, so it is sometimes referred to as a tisane. Herbal teas can be broken into three categories: rooibos teas, mate teas, and herbal infusions. Herbal infusions consist of pure herbs, flowers, and fruits. They can be delicious hot or iced.