Record tea consumption in 2020

Boost for Hamburg as hub of European tea trade
07 December 2021
Various teas

"Tea enlightens the mind, sharpens the senses, gives lightness and energy, and drives away boredom and fretfulness," a Chinese proverb goes. China is the world's largest producer of tea, but only second in terms of exports. Most tea remains in the country where it is hugely popular. Tea consumption is soaring in Germany also and in 2020, the per capita consumption of black, green, herbal and fruit tea came to around 70 litres - two more than in 2019, according to the Hamburg-based German Tea & Herbal Tea Association's latest Tea Report. Losses triggered by the pandemic-induced closure of hotels, restaurants and canteens were offset by increased demand in food stores, chemists and specialist shops.

East Frisians - world champion tea drinkers

Tea consumption is exceptionally high in northern Germany, the Tea Report found. "East Frisians have again set a record for enjoyment as they consume 300 litres of black tea per capita, per year. Last year, they proved world champion tea drinkers followed by Ireland and Britain in second and third place." Hamburg remains a major tea trading centre,

"Hamburg has been the hub of the continental European tea trade since the late 1990s. And there are currently no signs that this will change in the foreseeable future," said Maximilian Wittig, Managing Director of the German Tea Association.

East Frisian tea
Asian-style tea

Tea shipped to 108 countries 

More than a third of the German Tea Association's members are based in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. "The totality of our 46 regular members in Germany represents just under 95 per cent of the German tea trade. However, a clear concentration in and around Hamburg is evident," said Wittig. The domestic expertise in blending, flavouring and confectioning is appreciated worldwide, he added.

"This good reputation continues unbroken - not least due to our members' novel ideas, which are important for the global tea market." In 2020, tea specialities from Hamburg or Germany were shipped to 108 different countries, Wittig stressed. "The figure is a great indication of the ongoing demand for German expertise in tea."

Tea tasters sample up to 600 teas daily

Tea tasters master tea know-how to perfection. During their seven-year training stint, they train their tongue, nose and eyes. "The appearance, smell, colour and taste of each tea are key to its quality. These criteria depend on the country of origin, the region of cultivation, the climate, the time of harvest and the processing and naturally they fluctuate every year," according to the German Tea Association. People who choose what is perhaps the world's "most sensual profession" must be passionate. During the main harvest and purchasing season, tea tasters taste up to 600 tea samples a day. "That is an enormous achievement and requires the utmost concentration." Germany has only 25 to 30 senior tea tasters.


Tea and tea leaves
Tea fun

Growing demand for organic tea 

Consumers definitely appreciate this tea know-how and tea tasters ensure the consistent quality. Wittig pointed out: "Tea drinkers love variety and the blends of herbal and fruit teas make tastes even more varied. Regardless of flavour, demand for blends was high last year."

The growing demand for organic products saw the share of organic black and green teas reach a new peak of 12.9 per cent while the share of organic herbal and fruit teas came to 13.5 per cent over 11 per cent in the previous year, according to the Tea Report.


Note: A good cuppa was drank when writing this article.