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Do Tea Pods Have a Future?

Twinings English Breakfast K-cups (ETS image)
Twinings English Breakfast K-cups (ETS image)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll start by saying that I’ve never had a cup of tea that was prepared using a single cup brewing system. Which seems to be the preferred terminology used by some of the manufacturers of these devices. In the case of tea (coffee too), if you’re not in the know, these are devices that use a pre-packaged single-serving that’s designed to be prepared with relative ease.

I can also say with a fair degree of certainty that I’ll probably never have tea that’s made in such a manner and the reason is quite simple. I’m fairly certain that the selection of tea that’s available for these devices is rather limited and so I’m willing to sacrifice a measure of convenience for a more in-depth selection.

But of course none of this going stop me from weighing in on the issue of tea pods. It’s a subject that came to mind recently when I ran across an article at a financial Web site that speculated on the future of tea sold and prepared in such a manner. As the article notes early on, this is an idea that’s caught on in a much bigger way with coffee drinkers and it points out that “Between 2007 and 2012, sales of fresh ground coffee pods accounted for 24% of the global coffee market’s overall absolute value growth for the period.”

While those of us who value selection over the convenience of single cup gadgets are unlikely to use them, even those who favor convenience have a fairly good reason not to do so, as the article also points out. That’s due to a simple and rather convenient gadget known as the teabag, one that also has the added bonus of being quite inexpensive, especially when stacked up against a fairly pricey single cup brewing device.

On the pro side for tea pods, for those who like a little speed with their convenience, is the fact that some single cup gadgets can turn out a cup of tea in less than a minute. However, and this seems like a considerable con, “the price of a Twinings K-Cup is more than four times a standard Twinings tea bag.” Other drawbacks include the fact that settings can’t be customized for various types of tea and the fact that single cup tea is often an afterthought in an industry dominated by coffee.

The conclusion, according to the author of the article, “manufacturers should considering focusing on pods that produce tea drinks that require preparation above and beyond that of using a standard tea bag, such as iced teas and tea lattes.” My own advice is to hold off on buying a single cup device until you’ve had a chance to try some really good loose leaf tea, which is not all that inconvenient to make, nor is it as expensive as you might think.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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