In The Grocer's Focus on Tea and Coffee (11 November 1995), the ­issue of falling consumption of tea was high on the agenda, although the signs were that decline was being arrested.

Sales of tea had dropped steadily since 1987, but ACNielsen data showed that for the first six months of the year value had increased by 0.8%.

Early industry forecasts were predicting that this would lead to an overall 2% growth in tea sales for the year.

Coffee, meanwhile, was also growing in value, although much of this can be attributed to a 40% increase in the price of coffee beans following a heavy frost in Brazil the previous year.

Poor weather in producing countries in 1994 and a hot summer in 1995 in the UK, however, took their toll on the volume of coffee sold.

Fruit and herbal teas were driving the market as the ­sector shrugged off its niche image.

Julia Mooney, UK marketing manager at Twinings, advised: "If you want to grow hot beverage sales you should look at fruit tea. It offers a dynamic taste alternative, has perceived therapeutic benefits, appeals to younger consumers and, most of all, it sells well."

Speciality teas were also proving popular and moves by the major players, such as Typhoo's Plantation Freshness guarantee and increase in the amount of assam used in the blend, were having an impact.

These trends were also ­being mirrored in the speciality ­coffee market, where producers were finding consumers were ­becoming more discerning.

Said Angus Campbell, MD of Rombouts Coffee: "The move away from original coffee to Colombian, Java and so on is remarkable. It is fair to say that the typical Brit is now far more discerning. Consumer interest in different types has grown very quickly."