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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 04:07 GMT 05:07 UK
British tea drinking 'on the wane'
Prince Charles drinks a cuppa
Britons drink more tea than almost anyone else
The traditional British love affair with tea is on the wane, according to research.

Sales of tea bags have fallen by about 10% over the last five years, although the average Briton still manages to drink 1,000 cups a year.

People are also drinking less coffee - both instant and ground - market analysts Datamonitor report.

But it found a dramatic rise in the popularity of "healthier" drinks, with herbal tea sales up by a third over the last five years.

And as Europe's summers get warmer, iced tea is also increasingly popular - with 42 million cans sold in the UK last year.

Biggest losers

According to the survey the average person now drinks 2.2 kilograms of tea a year - well down on the 2.6 kgs consumed in 1997.

A stereotypical decaff drinker is a recovering caffeine addict
John Band - consumer analyst

It says cut-price supermarket brands, not the market leaders, were the biggest losers from the change in tastes

Despite the drink's waning popularity, Britons are still the world's second biggest tea drinkers - behind the Turks but ahead of the Indians.

The survey also reveals that Scandinavians are the world's biggest coffee drinkers, far ahead of the Italians and Americans.

The report says: "In coffee and tea markets around the world, people are moving away from cheap instant drinks towards drinks with a healthier, less processed image."

'New age puritans'

The role of "skilful marketing" has been important in popularising herbal teas in the UK, according to Datamonitor.

It says: "Fruit teas were once looked down on as a drink for new age puritans, but have gradually acquired mainstream credibility as a healthier alternative to tea or coffee."

But the researchers say it is unclear whether health concerns alone are behind Britain's changing tastes, as sales of decaffeinated coffee and tea were also down.

Consumer analyst John Band said: "It's more about image.

"A stereotypical decaff drinker is a recovering caffeine addict, while a stereotypical fruit tea drinker is perceived as 'stable', 'modern' and 'with it'."

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