#24_Serving Tea In America with Christian Eck
On October 19, 2021, we had our October event, Serving Tea In America, where we invited special guest Christian Eck. Christian is a tea sommelier who has served tea for many guests in America. He shared with us what serving tea is like in America and how similar and different it is compared to Japan.
Christian points out how in America, tea is a consumer-led journey. America's drink culture greatly differs from other places and consumers may not be motivated to discover all teas available in the market. Coupled with how tea options are limited in America, tea consumption is nowhere near as popular compared to Japan. Teabags, which are more convenient than traditional tea brews, are popular in American grocery stores while single origins are left out of the market. Much like all aspects of culture, tea must be learned and truly appreciated to be shared. However, Christian has mastered the ability to serve tea in an authentic way for all types of consumers by learning which guests are novice drinkers and which are more involved.
We learned that in America, cafes have coffee and treat tea as a side business. While tea is less popular than coffee in America, Christian hopes that more and more consumers come to appreciate authentic tea brews. This shift has already begun, as consumers have become more interested in tea drinks. This can be seen through the rise in popularity of milk tea, matcha-themed cafes, and fruit teas. As this movement grows, building a community where consumers seek tea is key to pushing the market forward.
Unlike in Japan and other countries where drinking tea is a cultural and spiritual experience, most American consumers see the drink as the healthy alternative to coffee and soda. Tea consumption is treated as a diet option for health benefits. Christian says this has pushed the tea market forward but notes that it has flooded the market with low-quality teas. Getting consumers to understand the content and quality of their tea selections is significant to helping build a tea community. Mindfulness within the health movement in America has contributed to the spike in tea consumption and will help encourage new tea consumers. In Israel, there has been a boom in the consumption of Japanese foods and appreciation for the culture. In a discussion between our guests, Sophiya (Israel Japan Chamber of Commerce) shared with us how Israel has the second most Japanese restaurants and is second only to Tokyo!
For Christian, the best part of serving tea in America has been sharing experiences with customers who truly want to enjoy tea and learn more about it. Similar to his experiences and hopes, Sakura Cha Meet wishes to spread the cultural and spiritual elements of tea with people of all backgrounds to encourage greater cultural understanding. We enjoyed Christian's presentation very much and appreciate the discussion we had with our friends!
Thank you to everyone who continues to support Sakura Cha Meet and see you next time for our November event!