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Increasingly demand for high-end specialty teas is pointing to a bright future for the US industry, according to a new report

The fourth edition of the ‘US Tea Is Hot’ report notes there is currently a worldwide glut of lower grade commercial tea, yet tea producers worldwide are hoping to boost revenues by targeting a growing US appetite for exotic, specialty teas. At the forefront are green, white, flavoured and fortified “functional” tea products.

“Increasing numbers of the 76 million middle-aged baby boomers are switching to tea as indications tying tea consumption to healthier lifestyles is clinically validated,” explained Brian Keating, of the Sage Group International, a Seattle natural products market research company: Physicians are routinely recommending tea to patients needing coffee, soda and juice alternatives.”

On top of tea’s calorie-free, cardiovascular health promotion and reported cancer prevention benefits, the “boomers” are apparently fascinated with an endless stream of global tea varieties.

“For many of these two-income, stressed out families, tea represents more than a commodity beverage, it is an affordable way to relax and revitalise while learning about other cultures. Millions of US households will shift to tea as their preferred daily beverage choice during the next three years,” notes Keating.

Certified organic teas will enjoy a powerful sales boost later this year when new Federal organic food regulations go into effect and consumer awareness of the entire organic food category rises. Additional tea industry “hot” growth areas include white tea, tea as an ingredient in functional foods and cosmetics or “cosmeceuticals,” concentrated liquid teas and high-technology brewing equipment for foodservice and home usage.