Tetley customer marketing manager Simon Attfield is fed up with people sounding the death knell for tea.

He says: "Every year we hear it's the end for tea, but in truth the tea market is flat. In fact, it is coming back into favour because it is a naturally healthy product and consumers are starting to realise this. Plus, per drink, it is the cheapest alternative around, aside from tap water."

The health credentials of tea are boldly communicated on Tetley packs. Messages include 'naturally rich in antioxidants' and 'tea has half the caffeine of brewed coffee'.

Innovation in standard tea from Tetley came earlier this year with the introduction of Tetley Extra Strong, an extra strong blend made from teas from Assam and Africa, which was launched for the 40% of tea drinkers who like to drink it strong. And, according to Attfield, the product is doing better than expected.

Value has been added to the standard tea market of late because of the drought in Kenya, one of the key tea-growing regions.

"The Kenyan drought has led to price increases of 1.3% in the past four weeks and we anticipate the increases will be with us for some time because of the damage the drought has done to some of the bushes," says Keith Packer, sales director at Typhoo.

He adds that it is up to retailers whether to pass these increases on to the consumer.

The Typhoo brand has been basking in market growth, thanks to its first TV advertising in three years. The brand is spending £5m this year on its 'you only get an oo with Typhoo' TV advertising, with the latest adverts being re-aired in November.

According to Kelvin Williams, Typhoo chief executive, the new adverts have a two-pronged approach - to get across the refreshment qualities of black tea and also attract a younger audience.

"We need to get younger people to drink tea," he says. "The adverts have a comic element to them with the 'oo' bit - it makes them stand out from other brands."

Packer reckons the brand is also benefiting from its new ownership. Last October Premier Foods sold Typhoo to Apeejay, which he says has given the business a new focus. "Apeejay's main focus is tea, so we are benefiting from its expertise."

In fact, he's very positive about tea in general. "Mainstream black tea is on the road back to growth. According to the TNS National Drinks Survey, the number of 20 to 34-year-olds drinking tea has increased for the first time in 30 years, and that's great news.

"Tea had a dusty old image, but youngsters are moving away from fizzy drinks, looking for an alternative and recognising that tea offers healthy refreshment. It is really positive news that tea is becoming fashionable again."

To keep this momentum going, Packer promises bags of innovation from Typhoo. "We're going to be as innovative as we can with high-quality delivery, packs and formats. And we're going to use innovation to build the brand. We'll also use promotions to add value and ours will be different to what the other brands are doing. We want to innovate and add value rather than revert to things such as bogofs."

PG Tips is another brand that has had a run of promotional activity recently and owner Unilever reports that it has been a huge success. The company says its Wallace & Gromit free mug offer led to a 500% uplift in sales in some stores.

The battle for market share between regional tea brands is also getting hotter.

Lancashire tea is gaining a nationwide presence for the first time, with recent ­listings in Asda and Nisa-Today's helping it to compete with its better-known Yorkshire rival. n