The German Tea & Herbal Tea Association (Teeverband.de), based in Hamburg, reports that tea consumption (both Camellia sinensis and herbal and fruit infusions) grew by 2 liters in 2020 to a record of 70 liters per capita.
“Despite all the pitfalls that were to be circumnavigated during the pandemic, tea always gave hope and ensured confidence,” writes the association. The report describes a positive trend emerging “as tea, herbal and fruit infusions have become even more popular with consumers in Germany.”
East Frisians averaged an astonishing 300 liters per capita during the stay-at-home year, according to the Record Institute for Germany*. The institute noted that the 475,000 residents there drink an average of 6 cups of black tea a day, an estimated 14 million liters per year, exceeding per capita totals for Ireland (222 liters), Great Britain (177 liters), and Libya (287 liters). According to the International Tea Committee, Turkey at 277 liters broke its own record for consumption in 2020, with per capita increase from 3.5 to 4 kilos.
Teeverband totals include increased consumption of black and green teas and herbal and fruit teas. Per capita consumption of herbal and fruit infusions increased to 42 liters per year, with Camellia sinensis consumption of 28 liters per capita. Black tea accounted for 73% of tea consumption, green tea 27%. Homeopathic infusions for colds and flu are excluded.
Germany is the largest importer, processor, and consumer of medicinal and aromatic plants in Europe. Most botanical infusions are single-herb teas, a category that includes popular peppermint leaf, ginger root, fennel fruit, and chamomile flowers. The remainder of the blends is mixed herbs according to the Wirtschaftsvereinigung Krauter, und Fruchtetee. The Teeverband report estimated rooibos consumption at 3.1%, Yerba Mate at 2.1%, rosehip at 4.3%, chamomile at 9.9%, Fennel at 10%, and peppermint at 14%.
Germany ranks 17th per capita for tea consumption (excluding botanicals) at 28 liters per capita. Global consumption was estimated at 297 billion liters in 2021. According to the tea association, Germans prefer black tea with sugar and without cream. Sixty percent of camellia sinensis drinkers prefer loose leaf tea to tea bags and sachets.
The tea association report authors write those gains came despite declines in out-of-home consumption, “triggered by the pandemic-induced closure of hotels, restaurants, and canteens, were offset by increased demand in food stores, chemists and specialist shops.”
“The pandemic year did not leave the tea industry unscathed; it held its ground strongly. Demand from the key distribution channels such as discounters, grocery stores, and drugstores increased noticeably, even though tea is not a typical hoarding item. In contrast, demand from the hotel and catering sectors almost came to a standstill,” according to the report.
Sales of organic herbal and organic fruit infusions increased to 9% of total tea sales. Organic black and organic green teas account for 4% of Germany’s total tea sales. The tea association’s managing director Maximilian Wittig told the Hamburg News that organic certified black teas account for a 12.9% market share. Organic herbal teas increased their market share to 13.5%, a 2.5% gain compared to 2019.
According to Wittig, green tea exports increased by 1.5% compared to 2019. Hamburg is a global hub for the tea trade, importing 41 million kilos and shipping 22 million kilos of teas to 108 countries. An estimated 65% of exported tea was shipped to countries in the European Union, with France the top export market for the third year running. Exports totaled 3,891 metric tons, up 3% compared to 2019.
Germany consumed 41,081 metric tons of herbal and fruit infusions (67.8% by volume) and 19,523 metric tons of black and green tea (32.2%), up a combined 1,400 metric tons compared to 2019. India is Germany’s most important tea trading partner, sending more than 7 million kilos in 2021, China and Sri Lanka follow.
Black tea is favored by 73% of Germans, with 90% of botanicals steeped in tea bags but only 40% of Camellia sinensis in tea bags. Germans buy 57% of their tea in grocery and department stores and 12.4% at tea shops, with the most significant increase in channel purchases online at 8.2%.
Download the 20-page Teeverband.de report here.
Footnote*The record institute evaluated figures from the British statistical authority, the German Federal Statistical Office, and the German Tea and Herbal Tea Association to recognize the achievement. Accordingly, with their annual consumption of 300 liters, the East Frisians also outperform tea nations such as Libya (287 liters) and Turkey (277 liters).