Tea is the world’s most consumed drink after water, with an average consumption of 85 litres per person in a year. It is an especially popular beverage in Asia, Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. In Canada, tea drinking has increased in popularity and it is now the third most popular drink in the country.

In this article, you will find statistics on tea consumption in Canada, ranging from consumption per person to the demographics of Canadian tea drinkers and Canadians’ tea preferences. For a wider picture and to compare Canada to the biggest tea-drinking countries, we have included details of the top five tea-drinking countries in the world.

Tea Consumption Statistics for Canadians

  • Tea first arrived in Canada in 1716, having first been brought to Europe in the early 1600s.
  • 48% of Canadians drink tea every day.
  • 55% of Canadian women are tea drinkers compared to 41% of Canadian men.
  • More than two-fifths of Canadians are medium tea drinkers, consuming 3-7 cups per week.
  • Canadians aged 25-34 are the biggest age group of tea drinkers.
  • 94% of Canadians use tea bags when making tea at home.
  • The revenue per person from the tea market in Canada is expected to be $53.56 in 2023.
  • China, the biggest tea producer in the world, produced 2.7 million metric tons of tea in 2020.

A Brief History of Tea

Tea is one of the oldest beverages in the world and much older than coffee. The earliest mentions of tea date back five millennia whereas the first records of coffee are from 850 CE. Some say tea first originated in India, others say China. Today, tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water and before coffee, orange juice, and beer.

The Portuguese and Dutch traders were the first to bring tea to Europe in the early 1600s and then the Dutch brought it to North America in the 1640s. However, tea didn’t arrive in Canada until 1716 when the first tea shipment was brought in by the Hudson Bay Company.

Even though tea as we know it today didn’t arrive in North America until the 1600s, the Indigenous people had been making similar hot drinks for thousands of years. They would make tea using, for example, bark from willow and oak trees, needles from spruce trees, and plants such as mint, lavender, and blueberry.

Tea Consumption in Canada

Tea is becoming an increasingly popular drink in Canada and it is now the third most popular drink after coffee and tap water. 48% of Canadians are daily tea drinkers, compared to 71% for coffee and 63% for tap water. Canadians consume about 11.6 billion cups of tea per year, which averages 326 cups per person.

Who Are the Tea Drinkers in Canada?

Women are more likely than men to drink tea in Canada with 55% of women drinking tea compared to 41% of men. People living in urban areas do not drink as much tea as those living in the suburbs at 39% compared to 46%. People in the east, and in particular Ontario are more likely to drink tea than people living in Western Canada at 51% compared to 26%.

More Than Two-Fifths of Canadians Are Medium Tea Drinkers

41% of Canadians are classified as medium tea drinkers, meaning they consume between three and seven cups of tea per week. The average consumption for this group of tea drinkers is five cups per week. 

Light drinkers are those individuals who consume one or two cups of tea each week. 24% of Canadian tea drinkers are light drinkers.They average 1.4 cups of tea per week. Younger people and those from single-person households are the most likely Canadians to be light tea drinkers.

Canadians who drink eight or more cups of tea per week are classed as heavy tea drinkers. 35% of Canadians are in this group. People who are heavy tea drinkers consume on average 14.1 cups of tea per week. Women are more likely than men to be heavy tea drinkers in Canada at 41% compared to 29% of men. Older households without children are more likely to consume more tea.

Canadians Aged 25 to 34 Are the Biggest Group of Tea Drinkers

Drinking tea is becoming more popular among younger Canadians and the age group that consumes the most tea is the 25-34 age group, with a 22.88% share of all regular tea drinkers. The 18-24-year-olds currently drink the least tea, accounting for 12% of tea drinkers. Millennials are the fastest-growing group of tea drinkers in Canada.

Canadian Tea Preferences

When Canadians are buying tea to consume at home, they prefer to use tea bags. 94% of Canadian tea drinkers use tea bags and in a year, Canadian retailers sell on average $200 million worth of tea bags. The second most popular option is loose- leaf tea. 61% of Canadians regularly buy loose tea leaves. In addition, 39% of Canadian tea drinkers use instant tea pods.

The main reason why tea bags remain the most popular option in Canada is because they are easy to use, they are sold everywhere, and they cost less than the other two types. Loose-leaf tea is popular among tea drinkers who want the highest quality tea, while instant tea pods are often bought when entertaining guests.

Younger and Older Canadians Have Different Tea Drinking Preferences

Canadians from the younger age groups are more likely to drink green, herbal, and specialty teas than Canadians from older age groups. 42% of 12-17-year-olds and 40% of 18-24-year-olds said they like specialty teas compared to 14% of Canadians aged 65 and older. For other age groups, the portion of tea drinkers who liked specialty tea ranged from 26% for 25 to 34-year-olds to 22% for all age groups between 35 and 64 years of age.

For regular black tea, the picture was the opposite, with older Canadians liking regular black tea more than younger Canadians. 34% of Canadians aged 65 and over liked black tea compared to 18% of 12-24-year-olds. For the other age groups, it ranged from 22% among the 25-34-year-olds to 28% among the 55-64-year-olds.

The percentages for green and herbal teas were very similar across all age groups. The preference for green tea ranged from 18% among the youngest age group to 27% among both the oldest age group and the 45-54-year-olds. The portions of those who liked herbal teas ranged from 19% among 18-24-year-olds to 29% for 35-44- year-old tea drinkers.

Canada Imports Far More Tea Than it Exports

In 2020, Canada imported about 40.77 thousand metric tonnes of tea. During the same year, it only exported approximately 3,000 metric tonnes. Despite only exporting a small amount of tea, Canada ranked 20th in the world for revenue in 2020 when Canada’s tea market was valued at approximately $1.585 billion. The manufacturers’ sales, which included both tea and coffee, totalled around $3.303 billion in 2021.

In 2023, the revenue from the tea segment was predicted to amount to $2.074 with annual growth of 4.73% between 2023 and 2025. The per person revenues are estimated to reach $53.56 and the per person volume 0.48 kg in 2023. The volume of the tea market is expected to reach 18.96 million kg by 2025, with 1.4% growth in volume in 2024.

Main Tea Production Countries

China is the biggest producer of tea and produced over 2.7 million metric tons in 2020. Other important te- producing countries include Sri Lanka, Kenya, Brazil, and India. In 2020, the Chinese tea market revenue was US$78 billion. The next biggest revenue was by Brazil, at approximately US$16 billion.

Biggest Tea-Drinking Countries in the World

China is not only the largest producer of tea in the world, it is also the largest consumer. At least when looking at the total volume of tea consumed. However, if we were to look at tea consumption per capita, then we get an entirely different ranking order.

When looking at who drinks the most tea per person, Turkey, which has a centuries-old tea-drinking history, is the number one country in the world. The Turkish drink 3.16 kg of tea per capita in a year. On average, that is three or four cups per day per person. However, when the weather gets cold, consumption in the coldest regions can climb to ten cups per day. Black tea is the most popular type of tea consumed in Turkey, with other popular varieties including rosehip tea and linden flower tea.

When people think of tea drinkers of the world, they often think of the British people. However, their neighbours in Ireland are actually bigger tea drinkers. The Irish prefer loose-leaf black tea and consume 2.19 kg of tea per person in a year. The United Kingdom is the third biggest tea-drinking country in the world. The Brits consume 1.94 kg of tea per person in a year. Black teas are the most popular type of tea in the UK, too.

The next biggest tea-drinking country is Iran where residents consume 1.5 kg of tea per person every year. In Iran, tea is served strong with a few lumps of sugar. In fifth place is Russia, where over 80% of the population drinks tea. However, they do not consume as much per person, with a yearly consumption of 1.38 kg per capita.

Health Benefits of Tea

Many Canadians are drinking more tea because of the health benefits linked to the beverage. So what are the health benefits of tea?

  • White tea is high in antioxidants and may be effective in preventing or fighting some forms of cancer. It may also be good for your teeth because it contains tannins, catechins, and fluoride.
  • Herbal teas contain a blend of spices, herbs, fruits, and other plants together with tea leaves. They are a caffeine-free option for people who prefer not to drink caffeine. The benefits of the tea depend on the ingredients used. For example, peppermint tea can help if you have an upset stomach, chamomile tea can help you sleep, and ginger can help relieve joint pain.
  • Green teas are high in flavonoids which can boost heart health, lower bad cholesterol, and reduce blood clotting. It may also have a possible impact on some cancers, including liver and breast cancers.
  • Black tea has flavonoids that can combat inflammation. They also support a healthy immune system. It can also be used to reduce swelling and relieve pain if you have cuts or bruises by pressing a steamed and then cooled tea bag on them.
  • Oolong tea is another traditional Chinese tea. However, it is not as well known in the West as other types of tea. Oolong tea has l-theanine which could help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Summary

Tea is the third most popular beverage in Canada after coffee and water. The majority of tea-drinking Canadians are medium tea drinkers, which means they drink five cups of tea per week on average.

While tea drinking is becoming more popular, tea consumption in Canada is still far below the consumption in the biggest tea-drinking countries. For example, in Turkey, which has the highest tea consumption in the world. The Turkish people consume over 3 kg of tea per person. In Canada, the consumption per person is just under half a kilogram.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most Canadians are medium tea drinkers, meaning they drink five cups per week on average.

Turkey has the highest tea consumption per person in the world with over 3 kg of tea consumed per person per year.

No, Canadians drink more coffee than tea with 71% of coffee drinkers and 48% of tea drinkers.

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