No thanks, I'm not a tea-drinker (who drinks tea anyway)?

October 15, 2013


Off we are into fall when hot-drink sales across the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) spike through the end of March. I certainly drink more hot tea in the fall and winter months--3-5 cups a day, give-or-take. 

But (sadly?), most fall revelers will tie-on their scarves and/or grow out their epic beards, stroll to their nearest cafe and completely forget about tea as an option. 

As I spend a tremendous amount of my time in cafes & coffeeshops working with Hugo Tea's wholesale partners, I get the unique opportunity to chat with unsuspecting folks about their drink choices. The conversations run like clock-work. 

"Why not tea?" 

"I'm not a tea drinker--too bitter/not strong enough/I need caffeine."

"Good tea isn't bitter. Tea can be quite strong, indeed. Tea has caffeine"

"I just don't like tea--who drinks tea anyway?"

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It's a fair question--who does drink tea?


Tea is the most popular prepared beverage on planet earth--we drink more tea than anything else (save water). It's been this way since the dawn of civilization. We (humans) have been drinking tea for 3000 years. We've been drinking coffee for about 500, soda for about 100, and energy drinks for about 20. 

Perhaps the more apt question is this: Why don't Americans drink premium hot tea?

America is a unique case--we adore coffee (in lieu of tea) for a number of reasons. For one, corporate mono-culture of the mid-late 20th century ran on inexpensive, black coffee. Corporate productivity studies pointed out that if free coffee was available, employees would drink it, get caffeinated, and become more productive. This was reason enough to put coffee in every break room. 

The idea that coffee is a working-person's drink pushed tea to the side. Never-mind the fact that tea is healthier, less expensive, better for the environment, and (likely) produces a more productive, focused high than coffee (for more on that, explore our Learn section). 

An entire industrial culture grew around coffee. We invented machines to make it for us. Suddenly (for the first time in three thousand years) coffee was easier to prepare than tea. It's a nasty cycle.

Recently I found myself at one of the nicer hotel chains, enjoying one of the nicer hot continental breakfasts. There were four coffees brewed and ready to go--in nicely branded thermoses with nifty tag-lines and bright colors. Then there was the tea. A sad-looking basket with an  assortment of random tea bags all of poor quality and poor taste. Here it was, spread out on this table, the reason Americans don't drink tea. If a person is going to have a drink-of-habit (a go-to everyday drink to keep their engine humming), they might as well choose a drink that is always available with reasonable consistency. They are going to choose the drink that is there--that's coffee. 

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Hugo Tea was founded on the idea that more people would drink tea in lieu of coffee/soda/energy-drinks/etc if only it was presented clearly for what it always has been--a daily drink of habit that just happens to be very inexpensive, very good for you, and totally, unabashedly, bad-ass. 

I think we have a ways to go.