A NEW Scottish drinks producer has used university expertise to develop a supercharged tea that packs a punch similar to coffee. 

Hi Tea, which contains three times the level of caffeine found in a normal cup of tea, is now on sale, after being developed with help from experts at Musselburgh-based Queen Margaret University.

The company wanted to create a new beverage that would be acceptable to existing tea drinkers and to consumers who might not enjoy coffee but were still looking for a high caffeine hit.

Laura Ewing, from Hi Tea, said: “The daily consumption of tea in the UK is around 165 million cups, compared with approximately 70 million cups of coffee.

“We believed there was a gap in the market for a tasty black tea which could offer similar qualities to coffee, but we needed to partner with food specialists at QMU to help us carry out consumer research. In addition, we required specialist support to review our ingredients, develop a recipe for tea bags and assess caffeine levels.”

Experts from QMU’s Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation advised on the development of the product by conducting taste testing panels and consumer feedback sessions. 

Catriona Liddle, from QMU’s Scottish Centre for Food Development and Innovation, said: “The trend for tea supplemented with synthetic caffeine has come over from the US. Synthetic caffeine is a common additive in energy drinks, but for this project it was important that a natural UK source was identified.

“QMU was able to source caffeine that was not only natural but had none of the characteristic bitterness normally associated with synthetic sources of this ingredient. A formulation was then created enabling Hi Tea to produce a blend fortified with natural caffeine but tasting like everyday tea.

“In addition, we were able to ascertain the base level of caffeine found in the tea leaves used by Hi Tea and supplement this with the ideal levels in order to reach the target amount.”

Hi Tea is available in tubs containing 30 or 80 organic everyday tea bags fortified with natural caffeine.

The product is 100 per cent natural and has zero calories and sugars. It can be bought at www.hiteaonline.co.uk/products-shop