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Tea in Switzerland, Austria, Poland, and Spain


In Switzerland, sales of specialty teas have been rising over the past 13 years or so. Sales in one of Zurich’s new specialty retail outlets for 2001 were up on figures for 2000 by 30%. The growth is mainly in the green tea sector. The growth of sales is evident mostly among students and mothers with children because, as Kathy Buhler of Teehaus Ch’a in Zurich says, “They need a healthy lifestyle and some calming beverage. For younger people, it is very ‘cool’ right now to have tea or chai at home. Health is a very important reason. Many people especially in the cities have stomach problems that do not agree with coffee. There are also more possibilities to buy different kinds of tea than before.”

As elsewhere, the small specialty shops have started the trend and the supermarkets are following. As Kathy Buhler remarked, “The small shops start a new lifestyle and in the end the big companies steal their ideas and make big profits. The big companies will benefit from the increased consumption of tea in Switzerland.”

In Austria, coffee sales are shrinking and tea sales have increased by 40% over the last 10 years, due mainly to an understanding of tea’s health benefits. “Quality tea consumption has roughly doubled in the last 10 years,” says Peter Sunley of Demmer Teas. “Green tea consumption has grown from about five to twenty-six percent of our total sales which include fruit and herbal infusions. We are of the opinion that, through the tremendous surge in the opening of tea specialty shops, the consumption of high class tea has grown considerably.”

Teekanne, Milford, and R. Twining are the strongest brands in Austria, apart from the private labels of the major supermarket chains. And as Sunley said, “There are quite a number of tea specialty shops but most of them need to sell other articles such as giftwares in order to make a living.” But both supermarkets and small specialty retailers in Austria are set to benefit from the increased interest in tea. In Poland, consumption is increasing by 5-10% each year. Tomasz Cieslik, owner of a chain of Tea-Time shops in Warsaw, says, “Polish people tend to drink tea with every meal and teabags are the most popular in this country. But the number of customers interested in high quality loose leaf tea is still increasing and the number of tearooms is consequently also growing. In Warsaw, there are now 10 tea-rooms - of those one belongs to Whittards, one is a Demmer Teehaus, and five are ‘Tea-Time’ English style tearooms.” About 60% of the market is black tea, the rest is green tea, herbals, and fruit infusions. The most popular brands are Lipton, Tetley, Posti, and Dilmah and favorite varieties are Earl Grey, Yunnan, Ceylon, and Assam. In Spain, consumption is still low but is expected to rise from a total volume of 1,000 tons in 1999 to 2,500 tons in 2002.



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