Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 provides the basis for consumer information in the EU. THIE supports the aim to provide clear information to consumers on products. Accordingly, the THIE Compendium of Guidelines for Tea as well as the Compendium of Guidelines for Herbal and Fruit Infusions list further details with regard to the labelling of these product groups.
Depending on the processing steps employed, common denominations of tea are for example “Black Tea”, “Oolong Tea”, “Green Tea” or “White Tea”. Geographical indications are only used if the tea originates exclusively from a particular district of origin. In this case a tea might be labelled as “Chinese Green Tea” for example. An example of a protected geographical indication is “Darjeeling Tea”. If the term “blend” is mentioned in the denomination it indicates that the tea comes from different origins. Well known blends of black tea are “English Breakfast” and the “East Frisian Blend”.
Herbal infusions are usually denominated by the name of the type of the plant of part of plant used, also in combination with the word “tea” or “infusion”. Examples are “Peppermint Tea” or “Chamomile infusion”. “Rooibos” or “Red Bush” is a protected geographical indication for herbal infusions made from the Aspalathus linearis bush, which originates in South Africa. General terms like “fruit tea” or “herbal infusion” are used if the product is manufactured from several types of plants.
In case of flavoured teas or herbal infusions an indication of the flavour is given.
Tea as well as herbal infusions are mainly consumed as hot beverages. However, consumers have also discovered the great taste of cold brew teas and infusions. Nevertheless, not all products are suitable to be brewed with cold water. Cold Brew products carry a special indication that they may also be prepared with cold water. Consumers should always follow the preparation instructions on pack to ensure the product is safe for consumption and to bring out the flavour for the best taste experience.
EU rules on health claims have been established by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. This regulation is the legal framework used by food business operators when they want to highlight the particular health benefits of their products on the product label or in advertising. The objective of those rules is to ensure that any claim made on the label, in presentations or advertising in the EU is clear, accurate and based on scientific evidence. Unfortunately, the claims proposed for botanical products like tea and herbal infusions have yet to be evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority because the European Commission and the Member States could not agree on a procedure for the evaluation of such claims. THIE has submitted a large list of claims referring to the beneficial properties of tea and herbal infusions together with the substantiating evidence. It is most regrettable that no real progress has been made by the authorities for more than 10 years now. This restricts the possibilities to highlight the beneficial properties of teas and herbal infusions considerably and leads to unfair competition in relation to other product groups.