Canadians And Tea


Toronto, Ontario - According to a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid for the Tea Association of Canada, one in seven (14%) tea drinkers mention the fact that tea is good for their health as a top of mind reason for which they drink tea, indicating this is a positive message to communicate to Canadians about tea. When read a list of the benefits of tea, the most important benefits of drinking tea are considered to be that it tastes good (57%), it is relaxing (56%), it is easy to prepare (47%), and it is good for your health (41%).

Almost one third (30%) of Canadians would be encouraged to drink more tea if the label included the term "contains anti-oxidants". Additionally, it is also important for three-quarters of Canadians that the tea packaging label indicates that it contains `artificial' (71%) or `natural' (80%) flavours.

The main reason that tea drinkers mention for drinking tea is that they enjoy it (30%). Different flavours (5%), a health message (4%) and cold weather (4%) would encourage current tea drinkers to increase their tea consumption, while some non-tea drinkers could be convinced to give it a try if there were different flavours (8%).

These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between January 5th and January 8th, 2004. The telephone survey is based on a randomly selected sample of 1,055 Canadians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within 177 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 2001 Census data.

To drink or not to drink hot tea...

The main reason Canadian tea drinkers drink tea is for the pleasure of it. Just under one-third (30%) mention this as a top of mind reason for drinking tea. Other main reasons that they drink tea are: that it is relaxing/soothing (16%), it's a warm/hot drink (15%) it is good for their health/wellness (14%), it tastes good (14%) and it is an alternative to coffee (11%).


  • Tea drinkers in B.C. (36%), Ontario (30%) and Atlantic Canada (41%) are more likely mention that they enjoy drinking tea than are tea drinkers in Quebec (21%).


  • Women tea drinkers (35%) are also more likely than men (23%) to mention drinking hot tea because they enjoy it, and because it is a relaxing/soothing experience.


Non-tea drinkers' main reasons for not drinking tea are generally not liking tea (34%) and disliking the taste (25%). Preferring coffee (12%) is also an important factor for non-tea drinkers. There are some who have never tried tea (3%) and others who have no reason for not drinking it (5%).


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  • Generally not liking tea is a more prevalent reason for women (42%) than it is for men (29%).


  • University graduates (24%) and those 55 years of age or over (20%) are more likely to say they prefer coffee.


Some Canadians only drink hot tea occasionally. While some say they prefer coffee (22%), others mention that they consider themselves regular hot tea drinkers (15%) - tea just isn't as high on their share of occasions for drinking hot beverages.


  • Those who drink tea with caffeine (26%) are significantly more likely to say they drink tea occasionally because they prefer coffee.


  • Those living in B.C. (18%), Ontario (19%) and Atlantic Canada (21%) state that they do drink hot tea regularly - although tea's share of occasion in their beverage consumption is occasional. The same goes for those 35 years of age and over (35 to 54: 14%, 55+: 23%).


  • Canadians in Atlantic Canada (11%), as well as those 18 to 34 years of age (11%) are more likely to mention not drinking hot beverages often.


  • People with higher incomes (5%) are also looking for more variety in their beverage consumption.


When asked what would encourage them to increase their tea consumption, even though more than half of non-tea drinkers (53%) would not drink more tea, some could be convinced to give it a try if there were different flavours (8%). While tea drinkers mention already drinking much tea (8%), different flavours (5%), a health message (4%), and cold weather (4%) would encourage them to increase consumption.


  • Different flavours (10%) and availability (4%) would increase consumption in Quebec more than in other regions. Those in Manitoba/Saskatchewan (49%), as well as those in Atlantic Canada (54%) are most adamant about not increasing their consumption. Canadians in B.C. (13%) and in Ontario (8%) are also more likely to feel that they already do drink a lot of tea.


  • Younger Canadians (10%) would be more likely to increase their tea consumption if there were different flavours. A health message (5%), cold weather (5%), availability (4%), being sick (3%), and cheaper prices (3%) are also mentioned more often in the young age group. Additionally, health messages (6%) resound more strongly in the lower income category.


. The benefits of drinking tea

When read a list of the benefits of tea, almost all benefits resounded more strongly with current tea drinkers than with non-tea drinkers. However, `good for health' was as important a benefit for both groups (tea drinkers: 42%, non-tea drinkers: 36%). The taste (65%) and tea's relaxing effect (62%) continue to top the list for tea drinkers, along with its ease of preparation (52%).


  • The benefits mentioned scored strong points with Canadians, except for those in Quebec, who placed less importance on all the benefits mentioned. Strongest supporters for almost all the benefits of tea drinking are those living in B.C. `Good for health' scored especially well in B.C. (59%) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (54%), along with the fact that tea contains flavonoids (B.C.: 20%, Man./Sask.: 20%).


  • Health messaging (48%) and variety (39%) is more important to younger Canadians, while affordability is important to both younger (40%) and older Canadians (38%). That tea `provides a break' is more important to middle-aged Canadians (40%), while older Canadians are more likely to place importance on tea being a `pick-me-up' (28%).


  • Taste is more important to de-caffeinated tea drinkers (75%), along with affordability (47%), `provides a break' (51%), `less caffeine than coffee' (49%) and `contains anti-oxidants' (37%). `Good for health' resounds more strongly with de-caffeinated (52%) and herbal (48%) tea drinkers than with caffeinated tea drinkers (39%).


Terms on the label

Almost one-third of Canadians (30%) would be encouraged to drink more tea is the label included the term `contains anti-oxidants'. This is even more so for higher educated Canadians (33%). Just under one in ten (9%) would be encouraged to increase their tea consumption if the label included `contains flavonoids', while one in sixteen (6%) would not be encouraged to drink more tea with either term.


  • The term `contains anti-oxidants' would encourage people with higher education (some post-secondary education: 34%, University graduates: 32%) to drink more tea, more than others.


  • Significantly more people in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (13%) than in other provinces do not know what these terms mean.


  • The `anti-oxidant' labeling resounds more strongly with herbal tea drinkers (37%), and the `flavonoids' labeling is more encouraging for both herbal (13%)and de-caffeinated (15%) tea drinkers.


  • While both labeling options are far more encouraging for current tea drinkers (`anti-oxidants': 32%, `flavonoids': 11%) than for non-tea drinkers (`anti-oxidants': 22%, `flavonoids': 5%), one in five (22%) non-tea drinkers would be encouraged to drink tea with the `anti-oxidant' labeling.


When asked how important it would be to have the terms `artificial flavour' and `natural flavour' on the tea packaging label, for most people, it is important to have this information, especially the mention of `natural flavour'. Seven in ten Canadians (71%) find it important to mention `artificial flavour' on the tea packaging, and 80% find it important to mention `natural flavour'. For either term, more than half state this is very important (`artificial flavour': 53%, `natural flavour': 57%).


  • The labeling of `artificial flavour' is more important for tea drinkers (72%) (especially herbal tea drinkers: 80%), for women (75%), both young (76%) and middle-aged (75%) Canadians, as well as mid (74%) or higher income (74%) households.


  • Including `artificial flavour' on the label is especially important in B.C. (78%), and for those with at least a high school education (high school grad: 69%, some post secondary education: 70%, university graduates: 78%).


  • `Natural flavour' scores high points with tea drinkers (82%) (especially de-caffeinated: 88% and herbal: 86%), women (86%), young Canadians (83%) and those from middle-income families (85%).


  • Labeling of `natural flavour' is most important not only in B.C. (85%), but also in Quebec (83%).


Tea drinking - general habits

Coffee represents half of the hot drinks Canadians have (51% of hot beverages), while tea represents almost one-third (29% of hot beverages) of their beverage consumption.


  • Non-tea drinkers tend to drink more coffee (60% of hot beverages) and more hot chocolate (19% of hot beverages) than do tea drinkers.


  • People in Quebec drink significantly less tea than those in other provinces - fewer than two in ten (18% of hot beverages) hot drinks are tea for those in Quebec.


  • Canadians drink coffee in relatively the same measure across all regions. Hot chocolate is drunk more in Central Canada (Ontario: 13% of hot beverages, Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 14% of hot beverages) and in Quebec (11% of hot beverages), than in Western Canada (B.C.: 6% of hot beverages, Alberta: 7% of hot beverages).


  • Women (33% of hot beverages) tend to drink more tea, while men tend to drink coffee (55% of hot beverages) more often than women (48% of hot beverages).


  • Tea is currently consumed more often by middle-aged (29% of hot beverages) and older (31% of hot beverages) Canadians.


  • Those who drink caffeinated (51% of beverages) and herbal tea (47% of beverages) tend to drink coffee more often than those who drink teas without caffeine (40% of beverages). Canadians who drink de-caffeinated tea are more likely to drink hot chocolate (11% of hot beverages) and other hot beverages (8% of hot beverages) than are caffeinated tea drinkers (hot chocolate: 8% or hot beverages, other hot beverages: 3% of hot beverages).


Tea with caffeine is the number one type of tea drunk in Canada, with seven in ten people (69%) drinking it. Furthermore, almost half of Canadians drink herbal tea (46%).


  • In Quebec, people drink less tea with (56%) or without caffeine (9%) than in other provinces. In B.C. (52%) and Alberta (56%), people drink more herbal tea than in other regions.


  • Tea with caffeine is drunk more by middle-aged people (72%) than by others; tea without caffeine is drunk more by young people (31%) than by others; and herbal tea is drunk more by young (50%) and middle-aged (48%) people, and women (51%), than by others.


  • About one third of caffeinated tea drinkers (37%) also drink herbal tea. Caffeinated (52%) and herbal teas (57%) are drunk by about half of de-caffeinated tea drinkers. Herbal tea drinkers drink more tea with caffeine (55%) than tea without caffeine (33%).


While herbal tea is drunk by a higher number of people (50%), regular black tea has a higher frequency of use, as more people drink it most often (15%) or regularly (10%). Regular black tea (47%), herbal tea (50%), Earl Grey tea (39%) and Green tea (44%) are drunk by more Canadians than any other types of tea.


  • Regular black tea is most popular across English Canada (drunk "most often" by B.C.: 22%, Alberta: 16%, Saskatchewan/Manitoba: 15%, Ontario: 20%, Atlantic: 15%). Younger people (drunk "most often" by 11%), men (drunk "most often" by: 12%), as well as people in Quebec (drunk "most often" by 5%), drink less regular black tea than others.


  • Herbal tea's strongest following is in Central/Western Canada (drunk "most often" by - B.C.: 11%, Alberta: 16%, Saskatchewan/Manitoba: 14%, Ontario: 10%), while those in Atlantic Canada are more likely never to drink it (65%). Men (drunk "most often" by: 6%) and Canadians drinking caffeinated tea (drunk "most often" by: 5%) are also less likely to drink herbal tea. Younger Canadians (11%) are more likely to say they drink herbal tea "most often" than are middle-aged (10%) and older (6%) Canadians.


  • Earl Grey tea is more popular in Central/Western Canada (drunk "most often" by - B.C.: 12%, Alberta 7%, Ontario: 10%), as more Canadians in Quebec ("never" drink it: 72%) and Atlantic Canada ("never" drink it: 78%) are less likely to drink it. Those who drink herbal tea ("never" drink it: 51%) are also less likely to drink Early Grey tea.


  • Those who drink caffeinated tea ("never" drink it: 44%)are more likely to shy away from drinking Green tea. This type of tea is also least popular among Canadians in Quebec ("never" drink it: 54%) and the Atlantic region ("never" drink it: 75%).


  • Regionally, people tend to drink de-caffeinated tea "most often" in Alberta (5%), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (9%), and Ontario (5%). Women (88%), younger Canadians (79%), and those living in Quebec (92%) are more likely to never drink de-caffeinated tea.


  • As with regular black tea, flavoured tea is also an English Canada phenomenon ("never" drink it in Quebec: 87%). Canadians in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (8%) are more likely to drink it "most often" than are other Canadians. It is also more popular with younger people (drunk "most often" by: 5%).


  • English Breakfast is also a Central/Western Canada drink (drunk "most often" by - Alberta: 4%, Ontario: 3%). Women (22%) and middle-aged (20%) or older (22%) people are more likely to drink this beverage occasionally.
  • Younger Canadians tend to prefer drinking herbal tea (52% drink this type of tea) and green tea (46% drink this type of tea). To a lesser extent, they also drink regular black tea (36% drink this type of tea) and Earl Grey tea (36% drink this type of tea).


  • Middle-aged Canadians prefer herbal tea (50% drink this type of tea), regular black tea (48% drink this type of tea), Earl Grey tea (40% drink this type of tea), and Green tea (43% drink this type of tea).


  • While older Canadians prefer regular black tea (58% drink this type of tea), many also consume herbal tea (49% drink this type of tea), Green tea (46% drink this type of tea) and Earl Grey tea (40% drink this type of tea).

    Tea is mainly an at-home drink for the majority of Canadians (85%). In addition, over one third of adult Canadians (39%) also drink tea when at someone else's home.


    • Higher educated people (Some post-secondary education: 25%, University graduates: 32%) tend to drink more tea at work/in the office than do those with lower education.


    • Younger people (23%) tend to drink more tea at fast food restaurants/coffee or teahouses.


    • While English Canada (B.C.: 89%, Alberta: 92%, Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 91%, Ontario: 87%, Atlantic: 88%) is likely to drink tea at home, drinking tea at someone else's home is not as popular in Alberta (36%), or in Quebec (26%). Tea drinking in restaurants is more popular with people in B.C. (31%) and Manitoba/Saskatchewan (31%), while drinking tea at the office and at fast food restaurants are a B.C. (office: 31%, fast food: 22%) and Ontario (office: 27%, fast food: 20%) phenomenon.

      Please open the attached PDF to view the factum and detailed tables.



      For more information on this news release, please contact:

      Genevieve Binet
      Senior Research Manager
      Consumer Strategy Group
      Ipsos-Reid Corportaion
      (416) 324-2286

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