After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. If we were simply talking about the Western World, of course, we might more legitimately make a case for coffee or the horror-in-a-bottle known as Coca Cola. But we’re not, and it comes back down to tea.
The main portion of the world that’s into drinking tea is obviously tea’s birthplace: Asia. It is sometimes joked that China would stop operating in its entirety if the tea suddenly disappeared. And it is here, where large populations lie, that tea is appreciated most – thus granting its status as the juggernaut of beverages.
Coffee, on the other hand, originated in Ethiopia. Africa doesn’t quite have the same population numbers as Asia does, but it has something else on its side; the western world’s addiction and need for a heavily-caffeinated beverage. Coffee is far stronger than its Asian cousin, and so often beats tea out as the beverage of choice among places such as Australia. At least in this country, the level of public interest surrounding coffee is both profound and incredible; specialist barista training is widespread among coffee houses, and people are constantly searching for the best hit they can afford. Specialised coffee machines are also widespread, as Australians are far less happy to settle for the “cheap stuff” than ever before. The premiumisation of the industry has gone so far that most Australians will either not touch American coffee, or do so begrudgingly; premiumisation just hasn’t taken hold there as it has here, except in what are reportedly wonderful tiny coffee houses tucked away into niche nooks and crannies. Nevertheless, the drink remains ubiquitous in the western world.
However, the premiumisation of tea just hasn’t been the same, yet. It’s moving – don’t you worry about that, it’s definitely moving, and there are actual market trends to support this fact – but it’s still dawdling. Between a coffee house and a tea house, most people will opt for a good coffee.
However, the household is where tea reigns supreme. Too many houses I’ve walked into, and been asked the omnipresent question: “Tea or coffee?”. It seems everyone has their little stash of tea tucked away somewhere, whether it be somewhere among the cupboards or proudly out on display. In addition to this, there are a number of coffee houses who have seen tea’s potential and have decided to elevate it to their menus.
Tea’s point of revenge, in Australia, is its health properties. While coffee has an amount of antioxidants, tea has all sorts of things that are good for you within it, while not giving you quite the same caffeine hit. People generally only drink one drink at a time, and that drink is more commonly turning out to be tea. It is our hope that one day tea will stand on the same pedestal as coffee here in the western world. It is something that may soon become reality.