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News 23.06.2016

Putting The Tea Back Into Iced Tea – Yum Cha

It’s always been a bit of conundrum in the retail world – why is the UK the biggest tea drinking country in Europe and yet…

It’s always been a bit of conundrum in the retail world – why is the UK the biggest tea drinking country in Europe and yet one of the smallest consumers of ‘iced’ tea?

This was the puzzle that drinks entrepreneur Guy Woodall set about solving three years ago. After a successful launch in mainland Europe, Guy believes he has found the answer through his exciting iced tea brand, Yum Cha.

Coming from a farming background Guy is no stranger to the beverage industry. He has grown elderflower on his farm for nearly three decades and is now one of the country’s leading suppliers of elderflower extract to the drinks industry, processing around 40 tonnes each summer.

Guy also set up the drinks brand, named after his farm near Leatherhead, Thorncroft Drinks. Initially offering elderflower cordial, the range was quickly expanded to include other naturally flavoured cordials and fizzy drinks. Sold throughout the UK and abroad, with particular success in Japan, James White Drinks acquired the brand from Guy in 2011.

Selling Thorncoft Drinks didn’t do anything to quash Guy’s creative spirit however and, having had a passion for tea for many years, he turned his attention to iced tea and trying to solve the mystery of why it hasn’t seen the same success here as in mainland Europe.

Guy soon discovered that a big part of the issue lay in the lack of a ‘tea’ flavour in the commercial iced tea drinks available.

So Guy set about trying to uncover why commercial iced tea didn’t taste of tea. He quickly found it was linked to the way the drinks are preserved, which involves acidifying the tea. The process not only neutralizes the tea flavour, but also means high levels of sugar need to be added to balance the acid taste. The result is an offering that not only lacks a real tea taste, but whose high sugar content somewhat negates the concept of iced tea being a low sugar drink that quenches your thirst and can replace high sugar sodas and juices.

Guy also discovered that most commercial iced teas are made from instant powdered tea, which have certain elements of tea removed from them to prevent clouding, resulting in real tea flavours being reduced further. The overall result is that the tea taste in the drinks is lost almost altogether and other fruit flavours need to be added to give the drinks any substance at all.

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