Tea + Protein: Brewing a Better-Tasting, Better-for-You Tea

It’s how many of us start our mornings, get a healthy energy boost in the afternoon, or wind down before we go to sleep—tea naturally occupies a spot in our routines. Tea is a beloved beverage, with more and more consumers turning to it because of its natural health halo, delicious taste, and relaxing aroma.

Americans alone consumed over 84 billion servings of tea in 2020, and we expect that number to keep growing. Besides water, it’s the most widely consumed beverage in the world and has been enjoyed for thousands of years across the world. It’s convenient, healthy, accessible, sustainable – and ripe with opportunity for innovation.

We see protein and barley playing a big part in the future of tea. At EverGrain, we make this possible with smooth, delicious, and circular EverPro barley protein ingredients.

Raising the bar for tea

From our 2020 consumer survey, we learned that nearly half (42%) of global consumers show interest in barley-based, ready-to-drink tea. Consumers associate tea with natural ingredients that are good for the planet and good for themselves. Upcycled barley is an opportunity for brands to offer new tea-based products that perfectly fit consumer perceptions.

Better yet, barley-based ingredients like EverPro BR have an added benefit of plant-based protein that can make tea products even more desirable.

Convinced that barley has the potential to revitalize the tea market, we tested this concept with 150 tea consumers. We learned that protein-fortified tea with barley significantly outperforms benchmark references in all plant-based beverage categories. From overall appeal, relevance, and uniqueness to the potential to change purchasing behavior, our protein tea concept performed well above the norm.

In prototype work, the taste notes in tea made with barley perfectly complement what consumers already associate with tea: floral with a vanilla-like flavor and sweet aftertaste. But, arguably even more than its taste benefits, barley’s sustainability narrative makes it the perfect ingredient to create new, compelling opportunities to attract consumers to your next tea application.

EverGrain tested application concepts for fortified teas. The data show that protein fortification makes these products more desirable. Protein-fortified tea received an Overall Appeal score of 7.8/10, significantly higher than the norm. Similarly, the barley-tea concept netted significantly higher-than-average scores from consumers for Uniqueness (8.2/10) and Behavior Change (7.7/10).

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Tea that’s right on target

As an all-natural and environmentally sound product, tea tells an impressive ecological and social sustainability story, supporting hundreds of thousands of workers who grow the Earth-friendly raw materials. Circularly sourced barley presents a unique opportunity to amplify your tea product’s sustainability story, as our ingredients fully utilize resources to which we already have access without needing to use even one acre of additional land. Furthermore, according to a recent international consumer survey fielded by our team, a large number of consumers said that they would like to see more beverages that use proteins and fiber from upcycled grains (10%), recycled grains (19%), or barley grains (27%).

From seed to final product, we’re proud of the journey our barley takes. It’s the most sustainable source of plant protein, with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions (up to 5x less impact than other plant proteins), lowest land use (over 20x less usage), and lowest water usage (40% more efficient). Building the sustainability narrative that consumers crave in their tea products starts with the ingredients, and we’re proud to help our customers tell their story of how they’re helping the planet.

Whether used in a teabag or sachet for home-brewing or bottled for on-the-go nourishment, EverPro barley protein is the answer to innovating in the tea space. If this sounds like your cup of tea, we would love to talk. Get in touch today to learn more about the harmonious convergence of barley, tea, and protein!