2018 Trends Shaping Private Label, Wholesale Tea

2 0 1 8 T r e n d s S h a p i n g P r i v a t e L a b e l , W h o l e s a l e T e a

It can be so easy to launch into another article about tea trends where the cliches come out- how “reading the tea leaves” shows that tea is “hot.” Instead, Firsd Tea would like to look at these tea trends as they relate to private label tea and wholesale tea trends.

Here are 3 facts-backed trends about tea in the US

Courtesy: Better Kombucha


World Tea News uncovered these kombucha highlights:

Kombucha Brewers International, an organization representing over 50 commercial kombucha brewers, proclaims kombucha the fastest growing functional beverage category. KBI members reported continued 30% growth in the natural channel and at least 50% growth in the conventional channel year after year.

Euromonitor International predicts $656.7 million in US kombucha sales by 2019.

SPINS projects $1.8 billion in sales by 2020.

Brew Dr. Kombucha (Oregon) became the third largest natural kombucha company in 2013, and reached $11 million in sales in 2016. Distribution of Brew Dr. now includes Costco, Target, Kroger and Safeway.

PepsiCo acquired KeVita kombucha in 2016 ($42 million in sales in 2017, according to an IRI report).

Peet’s Coffee invested $7.5 million in craft kombucha brewer Revive Kombucha in 2017.

The booch buzz has been loud enough that World Tea Expo 2018 has dedicated a pavilion to kombucha.

What This Means:

  • Watch for the development of tea blends specifically crafted for commercial and in-home kombucha brewing
  • As competition increases, kombucha brewers will seek more quality and variety of tea ingredient to develop distinctive beverages to offer within an attractive price spectrum

Blue Butterfly – potential colors


Blue Butterfly (clitoria ternatea), aka Asian pigeonwing, is known for its deep purple flowers. The pea flowers have been used in traditional SE Asian cuisine to add color to teas and rice dishes. Blue butterfly has seen increasing interest as an ingredient in tea blends and cocktails. The beauty of blue butterfly is that just a few blossoms can add deep hues of blue with little-to-no impact on the flavor of the drink. Additionally, blenders and mixologists can use blue butterfly to create a wide spectrum of colors by adding a few drops of lemon juice or other herbs. Lemongrass, green tea, and hibiscus are often paired with blue butterfly to extend the range to bright greens, paler blues, and vibrant purples.

Bon Appetit explored the herb’s potential here.

Tea Forte has developed a series of bleu-inspired teas.

The potential for blue butterfly tea blends is still largely untapped. A few innovators are leading the charge, but the hype around blue butterfly has not sufficiently reached the mass market.

What This Means:

  • Blue butterfly will gain further ground as a cocktail and tea blend ingredient, especially for its “magic” color-changing properties


Matcha has been increasingly popping up as a superfood, in part due to the fact that matcha allows you to ingest all of the tea-leaf goodness of these quality leaves. Companies like Califia Farms have been adding matcha to almond milk for a few years now. The trend continues to gain traction:

Global matcha sales are expected to surpass $5 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. North America has been the second-largest and fastest-growing market for matcha.

Ito-En added Matcha Love Matcha Colada (matcha + coconut water) to their existing matcha RTD selection in 2016. Other new brands/products are steadily entering the market, including Matchaah’s Matcha Shots.

Costco has begun to carry Ujido matcha in some locations.

In 2017, Pure Leaf launched its home-brew matcha to be distributed to national grocery stores.

In August 2017, MatchaBarNYC announced singer/songwriter/entrepreneur Drake and others were providing financing for distribution of the company’s Better Energy bottled matcha beverage to Whole Foods stores across the nation.

As covered in a recent Firsd Tea blog post, Japanese teas lead the day, but Chinese teas are increasingly providing an enticing option for creating classic and ceremonial grade matchas with non-Japanese matcha.

What This Means:

  • Differences between “green tea powder” and “matcha” will become more distinct, while differences between Chinese and Japanese matcha will be blurred
  • More matcha products will appear, including more convenient matcha products with added flavors and nutritional benefits (e.g. matcha + moringa?)

Other trends:

BevNet (via SPINS) highlights these ingredients appearing in more beverages:

1. Ashwaganda, adaptogens, and other nootropics
2. CBD
3. Moringa
4. Plant-based proteins