Local tea culture is well established in Singapore, attributed to the heavy influence of the country’s vibrant Chinese, Malay and Indian migrant communities who have brought with them heavy tea drinking cultures that continue to this day. Indeed, tea drinking rituals in Singapore now take on many shapes and forms, ranging from traditional tea houses and local kopitiams (traditional coffee shops found in Southeast Asia) to trendy bubble tea shops and a new wave of premium tea salons.

Against this backdrop, Singapore has slowly seen a rise in the number of tea salons over the years, as well as growth in premium home-grown speciality tea brands for in-home consumption. This movement has been driven by Millennial consumers who are constantly on the lookout for unique infusions, customisable blends and new experiences – as demonstrated by a similar growing interest in speciality coffees. As tea culture continues to evolve in Singapore, there will be opportunity for tea manufacturers to target Millennials.

Last year, Australia’s notable tea training and blending organisation, Australian Tea Masters, expanded into Singapore – a move that shows the extent to which tea appreciation has picked up in the country. Australian Tea Masters have discussed the rise of tea consumption in Singapore and the potential for consumers to be provided better tea experiences when they dine out. The Australian company aims to help professionalise tea service in food and beverage establishments in the country as well.

Millennials after unique and customisable tea blends

As Mintel Trend ‘Make it Mine’ states, consumers’ demand for personalisation and customisation has urged food and drink companies to think more about providing consumers the ability to customise their options – a strategy tea manufacturers could implement to capture consumer attention. The trend of personalisation and customisation has been especially prevalent among Asia’s Millennials who like to express their individualities and value experiences that provide them with a deeper level of engagement.

The majority of young Singaporean top-earning Millennials believe that “gathering experiences and not material possessions, is the most important form of wealth”, according to a study conducted by UBS.

In light of these trends, there has been a rise in home-grown speciality tea companies looking to elevate the in-home tea experience. For instance, local premium tea brand Gryphon Tea Company launched a new tea label Monogram that encourages consumers to customise their own tea blends at home by ‘layering’ tea flavours together with a couple of tea bags. The company’s website features a tool that helps consumers pair tea combinations while providing key tasting notes.

Meanwhile, BREW, a tea brand from Singaporean company A. Muse Projects, differentiates itself from other speciality teas through its use of alcohol-inspired, coffee-inspired and wine-inspired teas. Taking inspiration from other food and drink categories – like what BREW has done – could potentially drive the premium end of Singapore’s tea market. The brand’s alcohol-inspired collection, for example, recreates flavours like Rose Moscato and Sangria, to name a few.

There is also opportunity for tea producers to create traditional or nostalgic flavours that resonate well with local consumers. Singaporean speciality tea brands such as Pin Tea and ETTE Tea Company, for instance, are patriotic by nature. Tea flavours from Pin Tea take inspiration from iconic neighbourhoods around Singapore, and are out in the market with names like ‘Ooh La Orchard’ or ‘Sentosa Sunrise’. On the other hand, ETTE Tea Company uses tea infusions to create local flavours like chicken rice, ice kacang and pandan chiffon, some of the favourite traditional dishes among Singaporeans.

Davina Patel is a Global Food & Drink Trends Analyst at Mintel. She specialises in delivering food and drink insights on the latest product innovation and market and consumer trends, mainly for the South Asia region.

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