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Tea making a big comeback

While coffee may always have a firm grasp on American consumers, tea is trending and sales are growing.

The tea category is increasing and expected to have five percent higher annual gains this year than last according to QSR magazine. Joe Simrany of the Tea Council says the reason for this boom is consumers’ awareness of the health benefits of the beverage. According to a December 2007 iModerate Tea Product Study, 53 percent of tea drinkers drink hot tea for these health benefits, including having lower caffeine content than coffee.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, and always preferred tea, and I consider myself a tea nit-wit. Before yesterday, I really didn’t know the differences between whole-leaf tea and cut, tear and curl teas. I had no idea that all tea came from the Camelia Sinensis plant and that beverages made from anything besides the tea leaf (like chamomile) have to be considered an herbal infusion. Linda Appel Lipsius, chief operation officer of Denver-based Teatulia was quick to correct my assumptions. Teatulia came to the NFM offices yesterday to give us a demonstration on their teas and explain the health benefits of the hot drink.

“I have two types of customers – the tea-curious and (what I affectionately call) the tea-geeks,” Lipsius says. When first starting Teatulia, Lipsius said she didn’t think she’d get any converts over from coffee, but in recent years that’s changed. Tea is now trendy, and natural products shoppers are the biggest trend leaders. According to that same iModerate tea study, 42 percent of tea drinkers shop at a natural foods retailer at least once a month.

Want to do your own crusading for tea? Learn how to sell more tea here and help your customers figure out the difference between a tea and a tincture here.

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