Sizzle and Sip: Summer 2023's Most Refreshing Beverage Trends
May 30, 2023
As we dive into the summer of 2023, a new wave of innovative, flavorful, and thirst-quenching drinks is making a splash in the beverage landscape. From the exciting mainstream migration of bubble tea to the nostalgic resurgence of sweet tea, from the tangy twist in iced tea to the sunny appeal of mango purée — the drink trends in foodservice are as varied as they are vibrant.
- The mainstream migration of bubble tea
Bubble tea, or boba tea, originally from Taiwan, has long been the secret delight of those in the know. But in 2023, it’s far from a hidden gem. The beverage is steadily sailing from the fringe and into the mainstream, transitioning from the adoption phase to the norm. It’s now proudly served in many chain establishments and popular cafés.
At the heart of this frothy delight are the chewy, delicious pearls. Traditionally, these are tapioca pearls, derived from cassava starch. However, with bubble tea’s rising popularity, chains are adding a touch of novelty to the classic. Enter popping boba—these pearls are filled with various fruit juices and burst open with flavor when bitten.
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- Sweet tea: The Southern staple that’s winning over America
Despite its regional roots, sweet tea is now mentioned on 15.2% of menus across the U.S., indicating its growing popularity and reach.1
However, its menu presence over-indexes in its traditional stronghold in southern states. The South, with its humid climate and rich culinary heritage, has long embraced sweet tea as its quintessential refreshment, from backyard barbecues to Sunday church picnics.
In 2023, the beloved Southern tradition is seeping into the broader American food scene. Restaurants across the country are increasingly adding sweet tea to their menus, tapping into the beverage’s nostalgic and comforting appeal. The rising trend also reflects the broader consumer preference for authentic, regionally-inspired offerings.
- Tartness is shaking up the beverage landscape
As consumers’ palates become more adventurous, there’s been a tangy turn in taste preferences. Tart flavors in iced tea menus have risen by an impressive 73% in the last year, and a whopping 447% over the last four years.1
Tart iced teas, often infused with ingredients like hibiscus, raspberry, cranberry, or lemon, provide a vibrant alternative to traditional sweet or mildly flavored teas. These tangy concoctions offer a zesty twist, bringing a delightful balance between sweet and sour that’s proving irresistibly refreshing to consumers.
Restaurants and cafés are capitalizing on this tangy trend, experimenting with a variety of tart elements to create unique and enticing iced tea blends. For example, some are introducing green teas infused with pomegranate and lime; others are experimenting with black tea steeped with tart cherries and orange peels. This growth in tart flavors shows no signs of slowing down, as consumers continue to seek beverages that offer a blend of refreshment, novelty, and complexity.
- Sipping on sunshine: the sunny appeal of mango purée
The world of non-alcoholic (N.A.) beverages is being painted a vibrant shade of tropical orange in 2023, as mango purée makes a significant splash. Known for its rich, sweet flavor and creamy texture, mango purée is finding its way into an increasing number of N.A. beverages, adding a tropical twist that consumers can’t resist.
In the past year alone, mango purée’s presence on N.A. beverage menus has soared by 26%. But the flavor’s real success story can be seen in its growth over the past four years, with a steep increase of 130%.2
This growing demand for mango purée is part of a broader consumer trend towards flavors that transport them to exotic locations, offering a sensorial getaway in each sip. Whether in smoothies, mocktails, iced teas, or specialty coffee drinks, mango purée lends a rich, tropical note that elevates the beverage experience.
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- The cool appeal of lassi in summer
Dive into the world of lassis, a traditional Indian yogurt-based beverage, and you’ll find an interesting story unfolding. In recent years, these creamy delights have started to make their mark on non-alcoholic (N.A.) beverage menus across the U.S., particularly the fruity varieties.
Mango Lassi, a vibrant blend of ripe mangoes and creamy yogurt, is leading the charge. Currently, Mango Lassis featured on 2% of N.A. beverage menus, an increase of 1% in the last year, and a substantial 9% increase over the last four years.2
The rich, tropical flavors of the mango paired with the cooling creaminess of the yogurt make this beverage both a refreshing and indulgent offering. Its growing popularity aligns with the trend of incorporating exotic, globally-inspired beverages into the N.A. category.
Strawberry Lassi, while still a more niche offering, is demonstrating promising growth. This fruity spin on the classic lassi is currently mentioned on only 0.4% of N.A. beverage menus. However, don’t let its niche status fool you. The Strawberry Lassi has seen an impressive 32% growth spurt over the last four years.2
- Novel sips, classic memories: the lemonade evolution
Strawberry is sailing ahead as the number one flavor on lemonade menus, with a significant 12.7% menu penetration.2 This sweet spin on the classic tart lemonade continues to win hearts and taste buds nationwide.
In the last year alone, mentions of strawberry lemonade have increased by 6%, and it’s seen a surge of 24% over the last four years. The appeal of strawberry lemonade lies in the delightful balance of tart and sweet, offering a refreshing and fruity twist on the traditional summer beverage.2
Meanwhile, sparkling lemonade is bubbling up on menus, adding an effervescent twist to the classic refreshment. Currently, sparkling lemonade is mentioned on 1.2% of lemonade menus, having grown 10% in the past year and an impressive 26% over the last four years.2 This is another great opportunity to add excitement with Simple Goodness™ Fruit Raspberry Crumbles.
- Dirty sodas: your childhood creamsicle just got a fizzy upgrade
The world of mocktails is getting a refreshing stir with the arrival of dirty sodas. This alcohol-free concoction is a new favorite traditionally crafted with Diet Coke, coconut syrup, lime juice, and either half-and-half or non-dairy creamer.
Dirty soda has also become a big hit on social media, garnering a substantial following. Some versions' nostalgic, creamsicle-like taste has captivated taste buds and sparked joy among users: 45% of people who have tried them love or like them.3
Raise Your Glass to the Hottest Beverage Trends of Summer 2023
As the summer of 2023 unfolds, it’s clear that beverage trends are taking a deliciously innovative turn. Whether you’re craving a frothy bubble tea with popping boba or a refreshing glass of sweet tea on a hot afternoon, these trends offer something for everyone. So, help your patrons embrace the flavors, indulge in the trends, and sip their way through a memorable summer.
1 Datassential, The World of Iced Tea report, March 2023
2 Datassential, The World of NA Beverages report, November 2022
3 Datassential, A Glimpse into Dirty Soda report, February 2023