The craze for green tea is on rise in the Middle East, a region where the traditional black tea dominated for years.
Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies announced in May this year?its plans for expanding the Lipton tea manufacturing facility in Dubai to meet the rising demand for tea in the region. The expansion will enable the Lipton Tea Factory, located in JAFZA, to increase its production capacity of both black and green tea.
The Unilever’s tea-blending and packing plant boasts producing 1.1 million tea-bags an hour everyday all through the year.? The plant’s ambition includes expansions to double its output within four years to become the world’s largest tea producing plant. Remarkable, considering the nearest tea plantations are at least 2000 kms away situated in South Asia and East Africa.
Dubai-based Kurush Bharucha, a Unilever director, notes how the tea drinking habits have undergone a metamorphosis in the region over the years. A lot of people, especially women have started preferring green tea made popular by the press for its health properties.
Although both black and green tea come from the same bush, black tea undergoes a process of fermentation, or oxidation, which changes the colour of the leaves from green to black. Green tea production stops the fermentation and retains the colour of the leaves.
By 2015, Unilever has committed to source all the tea in its Lipton brand from plantations certified by the US-based Rainforest Alliance, which guarantees the grower’s green credentials. Sri Lanka, which is competing with Kenya to be the world’s top tea exporter, is already working to develop plants that better resist drought, according to the Tea Research Institute in the island nation.
Mainstream black and green have been joined by, among others, organic, herbal and infusions, single-origin, ready-to-drink and fruit-flavoured varieties. Although the cost of tea is expected to go up, global tea market is expected to rise up to 7% annually, and as consumers become more environmentally aware, those who joined the green bandwagon early will benefit more.