Unilever is hoping to inject fresh value into the commoditised tea market with a "major innovation" under its PG Tips brand.

Next month sees the launch of The New Ones, a range of three black teas made using new patented technology to preserve freshness, said Unilever.

The Fresh One, The Strong One and The Delicate One (rsp: £2.69) are expected to hit £6m in first-year sales and their launch is being backed by a £3.5m marketing push in the first three months part of a £12m spend earmarked for the brand over next three years.

Priced at a 51p premium to an 80-bag box of standard PG Tips, The New Ones produced a much fresher brew than standard tea, claimed Unilever, as the tea leaves received an extra phase of pressing to more effectively lock in flavours.

The range would encourage regular PG Tips drinkers to add more specialist teas to their repertoire, said brand manager Silvia Grattieri. The Strong One contained extra-pressed leaves to create a fuller flavour for a "kick start", The Fresh One contained gently pressed leaves for a "pick-me-up" and The Delicate One would help consumers relax, she said.

Black tea had been lacking innovation for a long time, she added. "It has been heavily ­promoted and both retailers and ourselves are looking to put value back in," she said. "This launch will be a price leader and add value."

Read more
Key Unilever brands in Comic Relief push (12 February 2011)
Unilever defies rising costs to boost annual profits (3 February 2011)
Unilever has got the hots for emotional PG Tips marketing (22 January 2011)