Tea, and its younger sister coffee, have become integral parts of our lives over the generations. For many, it would be hard to imagine a day without enjoying a cup of either of these delicious beverages. Join us for this series of blogs as we investigate the history and mystery behind coffee and tea. We’ll delve into the lore, ceremonies and the making of these two international beverages.
First, let’s start off with a brief look at the consumption of tea in Canada and around the globe. As you may be aware, tea is the most popular prepared beverage in the world. It is second in all beverages to water alone. According to World Tea News, the average Canadian consumed 2.65 lbs, or 1.20 kgs of tea per person or the equivalent of 600 tea bags in 2011. The Tea Association of Canada now estimates that the consumption of tea by Canadians has climbed by 120 cups per person per year since 2006 to a staggering 9.7 billion cups a year!
Canada, however, is not the world leader in tea consumption. Not by a long shot. So who are the top world tea consumers? Some of these might surprise you. According to The Atlantic, Turkey is the top tea consumer per person, per capita at nearly 7 lbs or 3.18 kgs per year. Ireland is next at 4.83 lbs (2.19 kgs) with the United Kingdom also making the top three at 4.28 lbs or 1.94 kgs. Rounding out the top 10 after the United Kingdom is, in order, 4. Russian; 5. Morocco; 6. New Zealand; 7. Egypt; 8. Poland; 9. Japan; and 10. Saudi Arabia. Canada appears 20th on the list behind China.
We may be 20th on the world market but we sure do love our tea. So how does tea consumption in Canada break down? According to the Tea Association of Canada, in 2014 a Neilson report shows that Ontario is the top financial consumer with tea purchases equaling $159 million dollars. Quebec is second at $63 million with both British Colombia and Alberta falling closely behind at $62 and $61 million respectively. Unfortunately, the study lumps Manitoba and Saskatchewan together as well as all the Maritime Provinces but those numbers work out to $35 million in the prairies and $23 million on the east coast. Still nothing to sneeze at! Across Canada, hot tea consumption far outweighs ice tea. We love our specialty teas as 67% of all hot tea purchases are specialty tea.
So here’s the twist, the rankings in the paragraph above are based on the fiscal amount tea provides to our provincial economy, not on consumption. So who drinks the most tea in Canada? The Maritimes! According to the same Neilson report, east coasters drink an average of 10.86 cups per person per week with the rest of the country averaging out at only 8.3 cups per person per week. Tea bags remain the most popular form of tea in Canada with loose leaf tea and tea pods rounding out the top three spots in packaging. The average Canadian has eight (8) different types of tea in the cupboard and it is now as socially common to meet someone for tea as it is for coffee.
According to a Canadian Food Trends report commissioned by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada’s tea consumption is expected to grow a further 40% by the year 2020 as we further embrace the health and wellness benefits offered by tea.