Region/Countries: Asia, South Korea Industry: Agriculture / Timber, Food and Beverage Date: November 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The market has grown 71 percent in seven years, with particular growth in premium teas.

After a huge boom in the South Korean coffee market, the tea market has recently begun to grow rapidly. The South Korean tea market used to be primarily made up of sales of traditional teas made from crops such as Oksusu cha (roasted corn and silk tea), Bori cha (Korean barley tea), Boi cha (Pu’er tea) and others. However, much trendier teas that promote a healthy diet and more upscale premium teas that accompany brunch or dessert have recently appeared. Due to this growth in the premium tea market, many South Korean coffee franchises have added high-end teas and launched menus that include a variety of teas. According to a TFIS (Food Information Statistics System) report in South Korea, sales growth accelerated as more premium tea and ready-to-drink tea products were introduced to the South Korean market. The sale of liquid tea in Korea grew from 18.4 tons in 2010 to 31.5 tons in 2017, an increase of about 71.4 percent. Tea consumption saw greater gains than any other beverage sector.

Due to this growth in South Korea’s tea market, food and beverage companies have adopted the “cold brew” technique for tea or tea beverages with high-grade tea leaves. In addition, convenience stores have increased their inventory of grab-and-go bottled tea beverage products. For example, JARDIN recently launched two types of cold brew teas, called Café Real honey grapefruit black tea and Café Real hibiscus lemon tea, as ready-to-drink. One of the biggest retail store in Korea called, E-Mart, owned by Shinsegae, collaborated with Korean tea company Orgada on a grab-and-to tea product that is available in three flavors: mixed with dekopon and five-flavor berry, pear bellflower and apple lemongrass. These three teas were reborn as bottled beverages from PEACOCK (E-mart), which is the brand that runs Shinsegae. These three items are also popular in Orgada cafés. (Orgada only offers to-go cups, but E-mart offers bottles.)

Chloris Tea & Coffee is a well-known, European-style tea franchise with 12 branches in Seoul, and it has been expanding aggressively over the past few years. Although they are also known for coffee, more than 65 percent of customers now come for tea.

Another South Korean company, Sempio (which was established in 1946 and is South Korea’s oldest and most renowned soy sauce brand, leading the industry with over 70 percent of the South Korean consumer market), recently launched two types of tea: burdock tea and hovenia dulcis fruit tea.

Meanwhile, the coffee franchise chain EDIYA launched lemon sweet plum tea, grapefruit navel orange tea, and citrus junos mixed with pina colada tea.

Due in part to its detoxifying effect, tea is expected to remain popular among young, health-conscious consumers, and tea menus will continue expanding, bringing new vitality to the saturated coffee market.