Ground breaking innovation in tea production

Unilever R&D has pioneered a process that extracts natural ‘essence’ from pressed leaves to enhance the flavour of the tea blend.

Unique patented process

Lipton Yellow Label – the world’s number one hot tea brand – was relaunched earlier this year with a new blend that features a groundbreaking innovation in tea production. Using a Unilever patented process, high-quality tea leaves are pressed during production to release a natural ‘essence’ – or juice – which is full of fresh tea flavour. The essence is then added back to the leaves before drying and packaging.

By varying the point at which the leaves are pressed during processing, the taste profile of the finished tea can be altered. For example, in the UK, there is a variant of PG Tips called The Strong One where the essence is extracted towards the end of processing to give a satisfying flavour with reduced bitterness and astringency.

Inspired by olive oil

The new tea essence process was developed by researchers from the Beverages team at Unilever R&D Colworth. The dedicated team were inspired to experiment with the concept using the same techniques involved in cold pressing of olives to express high-quality oils. From this came the new process that’s now operating at the Lipton Tea Gardens in Kericho, Kenya.

Widening the appeal

Yellow Label is probably the world’s most famous tea but we want to continually offer consumers new taste experiences from their favourite brands. The latest blend is designed to be enjoyed by regular Lipton Yellow Label consumers as well as a new generation of drinkers. And this world-first means we’re now able to develop products in ways that have never been seen before.

Sustainable sourcing

In addition to introducing new blends, we continue to work towards our sustainable sourcing targets.

By the end of 2012, 75% of our Lipton tea bag blends contained a proportion of Rainforest Alliance Certified™ tea, and overall, 39% of the tea purchased for all our brands was sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

By 2015 we aim to have the tea in all Lipton tea bags sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ estates, and by 2020, 100% of Unilever’s tea, including loose tea, will be sustainably sourced. We are on track to achieve our 2015 milestone and 2020 target.

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