bubble tea
Not Your Grandmother's Tea

Millennials are making tea trendy again.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Five years ago we noted tea was “hot”, but a new report from JWT Intelligence (JWTI) says millennials are turning tea “on its head,” and have given the ancient beverage new life. The report credits “marketing-savvy brands targeting millennials with product innovations and colorful reasons to fill their Instagram feeds.” In fact, JWTI says tea is now as “cool” as coffee and wine.

One of the biggest trends has been the bubble (or boba) tea phenomenon (I can’t count the number of bubble tea places within 5 miles of my house.) While bubble tea’s popularity has been brewing awhile, last summer saw the introduction of cheese tea.

Jenny Zheng owns Little Fluffy Head, a cheese-tea shop based in Los Angeles. She told JWTI there’s “still work to be done to explain to her Western customers what the odd-sounding flavor is all about.” So she experiments with toppings—her most popular is crème brûlée with crushed Oreos, which “is sweeter than [the shop’s] other cream and cheddar cheese offerings.”

Many tea-preneurs are moving beyond the tea bag and incorporating tech into their tea. The folks at TEAMOSA have created a machine that says users can “customize the strength and flavor [of] every brew—ensuring each and every cup is crafted to perfection.”

The Tea Bar in Portland, OR, has four locations and says it serves the world’s best selection of high-quality teas sourced from the best farms around the world. The Tea Bar’s teas feature botanicals and herbs such as turmeric, rose hips and matcha, which all have wellness benefits.

Cold-brew tea (which apparently has a smoother taste) is hoping to follow in the popular footsteps of cold-pressed juice and cold-brewed coffee. JWTI reports that while nitro teas were introduced several years ago, they’re expected to “continue to gain momentum across tea boutiques.”

Bubble tea stock photo by Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock