As tea drinking habits change, specialty teas meet consumers' increasing demand for pleasure and health from tea. After watching from the sidelines for some time, Tetley now appears ready to move into the alternative tea market and take it to the next level. It could be the force needed to turn specialty tea into a mainstream market.

Tetley is launching a new line of 12 specialty teas that will include herbal, fruit and green teas. This is a bold move for the tea marketer since the company has always played on its down-to-earth image and mainstream appeal. Tetley already holds a strong position in the mainstream UK tea market but now it wants to get a piece of the burgeoning alternative tea market.

The decision to bring out such a range has been prompted by changing consumer drinking habits. Tea is no longer only drunk as part of a routine or for refreshment but also for pleasure, experience and health. Consumers now drink tea at a greater variety of occasions and to fulfill a greater number of needs.

In addition, coffee's premiumization and its increased connoisseurship has stolen hot drinks share away from tea. Tetley has recognized that tea manufacturers need to update their tea offerings to maintain relevancy for their customers and avoid stagnation.

Alternative teas fill that void by offering a growing range of health benefits, such as energizing, detoxifying and anti-ageing to name but a few. This is being driven by the growing demand for well-being products among consumers who are looking to take care of themselves in a more holistic manner and are willing to try new remedies and approaches as health becomes an increasingly important value to them.

In addition, flavored specialty teas provide consumers with new and heightened taste sensations. This is increasingly demanded as consumers become more adventurous and familiar with a variety of tastes from around the world.

Tetley is making a smart move by capitalizing on the growing health and sensory trends driving consumer choice. However, Tetley will be launching its range as a mainstream brand using TV advertising - a mainstream medium. The danger is that alternative tea drinkers will not switch to a mainstream brand of specialty tea. Likewise, mainstream tea drinkers may not be stirred into trying specialty teas.