Tea cosies up to novel uses

Non-beverage consumer products containing tea-based ingredients now outnumber beverage tea offerings on a global basis, according to category expert Colorado-based Sage Group.

Sage, which describes itself as a 'tea think-tank', said formulations using extracts of tea are now in thousands of consumer products including, functional foods, dietary supplements and skincare preparations. And, in the past decade more than 3,000 science-based studies, each with positive outcomes, were conducted on tea. The most successful of which have spawned novel intellectual property, including patents and proprietary formulations.

The diverse and healthy attributes of tea catapulted products featuring tea-based ingredients into the consumer product spotlight, said Sage spokesperson Autumn White. "Real tea and tea-derivatives deliver not only powerful antioxidants, but a goldmine of antimicrobial, antiviral, nutritive and disease fighting constituents. Tea also puts forth a positive, non-controversial image that consumers feel comfortable embracing in any product type from beverages to skincare and far beyond."

Sage recently released the Tea Ingredients Annual 2008, which is designed to offer guidance to companies operating in the burgeoning tea ingredients industry. The report provides focused raw materials supply and analytical laboratory resources for researchers and product formulators. The document could help companies steal a march over their rivals, White claimed.

"The science of utilising tea within ready-to-drink beverages and all types of non-beverage products is at a germinal stage of development," said White. She emphasizes, though tea is a popular ingredient, assuring stability, potency, purity and nutritive properties of tea in product formulations requires competent technical support and reliable raw materials if benefits are to be realised.

"Some product manufacturers simply add absurdly diluted levels of tea to their products to take advantage of tea's booming popularity, yet without the nominal expense of including real tea or its myriad derivatives within a product recipe. The use of quality tea ingredients and competent analytical resources provide a powerful competitive edge for product developers," said White.

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