Tea over tipple: Half of British tea lovers sometimes turn to a brew rather than booze

October 21, 2022

While a glass of red or a G&T might seem appealing, according to new research from Mintel, half (48%) of British tea lovers say they sometimes drink tea as an alternative to alcohol—proving the enduring appeal of a cup of char.

It is Millennial tea lovers (aged 26-41) who are the most likely generation to make the switch, as 55% of these consumers are sometimes ditching booze for a cuppa; while just 44% of those aged 65 and over sometimes make this swap. Overall, half (49%) of all Brits agree that tea is a good alternative to an alcoholic drink.

As the cost of living crisis continues, Mintel research reveals that a posh cuppa is proving to be a viable luxury, as two-thirds (64%) of those swapping alcohol for tea believe that high-quality teas are an affordable treat. This comes as Mintel research finds two in five (38%) of those who have reduced/limited their alcohol intake say they have done so in order to save money. Overall, a fifth (21%) of Brits don’t drink alcohol and a third (32%) have moderated their intake.

In a bid to tighten the purse strings, savvy Brits are turning to their faithful flasks as half (48%) of tea lovers say they like to save money while out of home by bringing their own tea with them (eg in a thermos or travel mug). This rises to 67% of tea lovers aged 25-34.

Brits are set to spend an estimated £670 million on tea 1 this year. Ordinary tea 2 will account for just over half (53%) of value sales (£355 million), followed by fruit and herbal tea, which will account for just under a fifth (18%) of value sales (£120 million). Speciality 3 (10%) (£68 million) and decaffeinated (9%) (£60 million) tea will account for a tenth of sales respectively.

Angharad Goode, Mintel Research Analyst, said:

“Tea is a comforting constant for British consumers. After facing such an emotionally draining time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with more uncertain times ahead amidst the growing pressures on household incomes, the image of tea as a little emotional pick-me-up is ever more relevant for brands to tap into. Six in ten (61%) people think drinking tea is a good way to boost mood, rising to 70% of tea drinkers. The cost-of-living crisis will increase the appeal of this wellbeing boosting perception as consumers seek out emotional support during stressful times. While cost-saving efforts are on the rise, tea’s positive image and consumers turning to evenings in over out-of-home leisure should go some way to drive demand for tea.

“Alcohol moderation trends represent potential areas of growth for tea in the longer term, while environmental concerns will continue to drive flask/reusable cup usage in a bid to avoid single use cups and also helping consumers stick to a budget.”

[1]Including tea purchased through retail only. Excludes tea through foodservice (eg tea from coffee shops, restaurants, work canteens).
[2]Standard black tea.
[3]Higher-quality tea and named blend teas (eg Darjeeling, Ceylon, Assam, Kenyan blends).
More from Mintel
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    Tea holds a comforting constancy for people. The cost-of-living crisis will boost the appeal of this perception, as consumers seek out emotional support during stressful times, while cost-saving efforts fuelling at-home occasions should prevent a steeper drop in tea retail sales. Localism and alcohol moderation trends represent potential areas of growth in the longer term....
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