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Tea Time: Industry is Steeping in Success, Giving Coffee Competition

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Although the specialty coffee business and the third wave generation might seem like it's on the rise with all the hip kids forking over big dough for their pour overs, a story in the L.A. Times today says that it's tea that's the hot new drink.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's tea expert David De Candia, who we met on our tour of the RAD Roasting Facility in Camarillo, strongly believes that the tea industry is on the rise, and that the rate of expansion at CBTL is emblematic of the industry as a whole. The SoCal-based company's tea sales have increased to 15 percent from 3 percent in the late 1990s.

And the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf isn't alone. Starbucks Corp. opened its first tea-only shop with their Tazo line last year, expanded upon its already $1-billion business. They are also forking over $620 million for mall-based tea retailer Teavana -- you know, those awesome sample-giving tea shops -- with the hopes of expanding to 1,000 locations from 300 that are currently in operation.

PepsiCo and Coca Cola are seeing profits with their products Brisk, Honest Tea and Fuze. Tea-infused booze is another area that profits are growing, like with Twisted Tea and Arnold Palmer Hard, a mixture of iced tea, lemonade and alcohol.

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Says the Times:

Domestic tea sales at restaurants, grocery stores and shops reached $15.7 billion last year, up nearly 32% from 2007, according to consumer goods research firm Packaged Facts. In the next two years, the market is expected to expand to $18 billion. The tea-drinking demographic is widening. Aging baby boomers and Redbull-swigging youngsters are expected to buy more tea. Asians, long a key revenue source, form the fastest-growing racial group in the country. Rising interest in ethnic cuisines is drawing foodies to Japanese matcha, Indian Darjeeling and African Rooibos teas.

The transition from killer energy drinks to tea would be an interesting move, but it certainly would be a welcome one for the sake of one's health.