A quick poll of the Mama Tea office and we discover instant tea is something we’ve all heard about, seen in the supermarket even, but none of us have bought or (knowingly) drunk. With this in mind we thought it might be a reason to dig a little deeper into instant tea, after all most of us drink, or have drunk, instant coffee, so why has instant tea not made the same impression on our lives?
Instant tea was first available commercially sometime around 1950 (some reports say 1946 whereas others quote dates in the early 1950s). It is produced from black tea by extracting the liquor from processed leaves, this liquor is then concentrated under low pressure and then dried by freeze drying or spray drying, therefore turning this concentrate into a powder. This process is similar to the one for making instant coffee.
A quick online search tells you that most of the instant tea on sale today are flavoured instant teas, that are aimed at the iced tea market and don’t require boiling water, or instant tea containing powdered milk, and often sweeteners, and aimed at the market looking for the ultimate in convenience tea. There is very little instant black tea that could be used as a direct replacement for the tea bag.
In America, where over 80% of all tea drunk is iced tea, instant tea seems to have a greater presence in the tea market than here in the UK, and flavoured instant teas form most of that market. A report from 1996 on the American tea market indicated that approximately 14% of the tea market was instant tea, whereas in the UK it is less than 1%.
So could the stumbling block to the success of instant tea in this country be that we are just too traditionalist, we have managed to adopt the teabag though, or is it because it doesn’t taste close enough to a cup of tea for our taste buds? We don’t have the answers but we are just pondering why none of us have even tried instant tea and yet we work in the tea industry!
If you want to find out more about Mama Tea and our teas please go to our website www.mamatea.com.