Summer Fancy Food Show

Numi Organic Tea rides rising wave of turmeric’s & matcha’s popularity

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Matcha and turmeric continue to rise in popularity as consumers and manufacturers embrace the ancient ingredients for their health benefits, unique flavor profiles and brilliant colors. 

Among the companies featuring the ingredients at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City was Numi Organic Tea, which is a leader in its category and took its own “twist”​ on the ingredients, according to company CEO and co-founder Ahmed Rahim.

He explained that the company’s new Golden Latte line of turmeric powders are based on traditional beverages commonly consumed in Asia, but that Numi spiced-up the drinks with chocolate, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom to create a Turmeric Chai and Turmeric Cacao with “a really lush taste,”​ but the unique depth and golden color that can only come from turmeric.

To balance the calming turmeric drinks, Numi also showcased its Premium Matcha line, which Rahim also described as having a Numi twist.

“Matcha is a very traditional tea that has been drunk in Japan for quite a while,”​ and normally is made only with a whisk to froth the ground greed tea leaves, Rahim said. “But we have also taken our Numi twist. We have the ceremonial one, plus, we have added another one with more citrus notes of lemon grass and lemon myrtle and some lime,”​ which when frothed “makes a really yummy drink.”

While both lines can be made with just hot water, Rahim suggests using hot milk or a dairy substitute for more substance and “that latte, chai kind of taste.”

Inspiration combines ancient history with modern taste

The Golden latte Turmeric Cocoa and Turmeric Chai build on Numi’s line of four turmeric tea bags, which launched in the fall of 2014 and the company describes in marketing as “rich, cleansing, awakening flavors.”

Sales of the turmeric tea bags, which combine turmeric with ginger, pepper, rooibos and other spices “are doing so well that we wanted to continue to ride that turmeric wave,”​ Rahim said.

“Plus, we have a whole big project that we do with our farmers in Madagascar, [where] our production and volume has grown over ten times. We have a whole Fair Trade project and we have a water campaign called Together For H2ope,” ​he added.

The campaign aims to make clean, safe drinking water available to people in need, which includes one in every nine people on the planet – or nearly 800 million people, according to the company’s website.

Thanks in part to campaigns like Together For H2ope, Numi has deep relationships with its farmers, which Rahim says will help the company scale up its turmeric and matcha lines without fear of insufficient sourcing as the ingredients’ popularity continue to rise.

Still, Rahim says the company’s biggest challenge is the growing popularity of matcha, turmeric and the company’s products in general.

“Our demand is growing so fast for our products in the marketplace that it is really just setting clear expectations with our farmers so that they know what to produce, or if we have to grow like with our turmeric when we went from 300 organic farmers to more than 700 organic farmers in just one year,”​ he said. “It is really being able to forecast so we can get that in place ahead of time.”

Health benefits & energy drive demand for matcha & turmeric

The staggering growth that Numi is seeing with its turmeric line, and which it anticipates with its Matcha line, can be attributed in part to growing consumer awareness of the ingredients’ health benefits and consumer demand for energy, Rahim said.

“With turmeric, people are understanding – like with ginger – that it is good for health. And turmeric has gotten a lot of popularity as an anti-inflammatory,”​ he said, noting, “In the supplement world, turmeric has just exploded and is really some of the top sellers for a lot of the supplement companies as a pure turmeric form for ingesting.”

In the tea form, health practitioners in the US are just starting to talk about turmeric and its relation to ginger and health benefits, he added.

“Matcha has a little bit more than just health benefits. It is also the caffeine and the rush,”​ Rahim said. “It brings a lot of awake feeling, like caffeine, but not the coffee jitters.”

In addition, he says, consumers are drawn to the ceremonial aspects of whisking matcha.

“People are enjoying what are the rituals of tea,”​ he said.

The future of turmeric & matcha in the US

The popularity of turmeric and matcha will continue to rise in the US as more people try the ingredients in foods and prepared beverages, Rahim said.

He noted that turmeric already is showing up in products such as popcorn and functional drinks, which “is going to rise the tides for everyone and for us, at the end of the day, that is going back to our farmers and really supporting our supply chain.”

As for matcha, Rahim says it already has “pretty good household penetration,”​ but as it becomes more mainstream and is available in larger chains and club stores “the public is just going to learn that matcha is not just a trend. It is a real staple in their diet.”

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