From bubble tea to tea ceremonies, tea has deep roots and profound cultural significance across Asia1. Just ahead of the United Nations’ International Tea Day on Saturday, May 21, we looked at trends on Google Search around the world and found bags of insights into what the world is searching for when it comes to this brew-tea-full beverage.
Assam, green or bubble: tea is the world’s most-consumed drink apart from water, so even if Earl Grey isn’t your thing, there's most likely a brew out there that fits you to a T. But which types of tea are the most popular?
- Bubble tea
- Green tea
- Black tea
- Milk tea
- Masala chai
- Iced tea
- Hibiscus tea
- Ginger tea
Worldwide top-searched types of tea, past 12 months. Source: Google Trends.
Green tea used to be the most popular type of tea on Search — until last year, when bubble tea bubbled up to become the most-searched type of tea around the world. The rise has been remarkable, with search interest for bubble tea more than tripling in the last five years, an increase of +220% worldwide. We’ve seen a similar trend with matcha; the beverage is now the world’s third most popular type of tea after search interest went up by +70% in the last five years.
Bubble tea, green tea, and matcha trends on Google Search, worldwide 2004-present. Source: Google Trends.
None of this can take away from green tea’s impressive run at the top of the most-searched tea rankings since 2004 (when Google Trends data started). Matcha — the second most searched type of tea worldwide in the past 18 years — is no match(a) for green tea, which has been searched twice as much. In four of the five areas in Asia-Pacific that search for tea the most, green tea was the most-searched type, except in Taiwan, where black tea was most popular, followed by matcha, then green tea.
Versatilit-tea: tea recipes
Perhaps what makes tea so popular is that there are so many different ways to make it. The trend for tea recipes — adding ingredients like honey, lemon or ginger into the pot — is huge in Asia-Pacific, with half of the 10 countries or regions that have searched most for tea recipes over the past 12 months coming from the region.
- Hong Kong
Top 10 countries / regions searching for tea recipes, past 12 months. Source: Google Trends.
Tea recipe trends from the past twelve months on Google Search, in Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore. Source: Google Trends.
As a personal side note, as someone born in the U.K., I thought the British were obsessed with tea, but search interest for tea in Vietnam was +20% higher than my home country in the last 12 months, and Taiwan searched 2.3x more for tea than the U.K. (+130%). Hong Kong’s and Thailand’s level of search interest was +80% and +60% higher, too, respectively.
Those were just a few trends we spotted, and you can of course use the free Google Trends tool to find your own. But however you take your tea, or your trends, we hope you take oolong time this International Tea Day to enjoy it.