When you drink your next cup of tea, did you ever stop to think about what made you reach for a cuppa?

We may not realise it, but social media has revolutionised the way we talk and think about what we eat and drink.

According to a recent Innova Market Insights consumer study, one in ten consumers in the US, Canada, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands and Australia are influenced by social media in their food and beverage purchases. That number increases to a whopping one in five in China and India. In SA, the case is bound to be similar with more than 23 million users spending almost 3 hours on average a day on social media.

Every day, people all over the world post a gazillion snaps of the most beautifully styled dishes and drinks – created by either themselves or served to them with an aim to wow followers who are often left with a sense of envy and cravings for these foods and beverages.

It’s a phenomenon that is also having a big impact on tea consumption worldwide says Adele du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council.

“Before the social media boom, coffee was king, but these days tea is catching up to the popular brew. Aside from Facebook and Twitter, tea has been hash-tagged in over 29 million Instagram posts alone – arguably turning one of history’s oldest drinks into what may be the beverage industry’s sexiest new offering.”

She says, the tea-drinking demographic is also widening as influencers on social media encourage followers to live healthier lives, by becoming more mindful about their lifestyle choices and the impact it has on the environment.

“Many consumers are looking to cut back on coffee and are tending towards caffeine-free drinks with natural plant-base ingredients. This opens the door for botanical and herbal teas, such as Rooibos offering health-boosting benefits.”

According to industry experts, consumers have maxed out on other beverages and enjoy the variety of flavour combinations that teas offer them. Beverage giants have responded by launching tea-infused waters, soft drinks and energy drinks. Ready-to-drink, tea-flavoured alcohol options are also proving popular.

“So too, the increasing interest in ethnic cuisines is drawing food bloggers to unique flavours such as Matcha and Rooibos teas. Every time celebrity chefs, such as Gordon Ramsey or BBC’s Siba Mtongana posts a Rooibos recipe, it reaches millions of social media followers who share it with their followers.

“Popular platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook have made our homegrown Rooibos accessible to the more than 3.48 billion users that are currently active on social media, which in turn is strengthening the demand for the tea globally.” she remarks.