Experts: Popularity of tea exploding in United States


Angela Betancourt used to rely on coffee to jump start her day. But to cut back on caffeine, she took a coffee break and switched to tea.

"It's exciting to go out there and try the different kinds," Betancourt said.

Tea sales are expected to grow about 50 percent in the next three years and some think by 2017 may even outsell coffee.

"The big reason tea is exploding in popularity in the United States right now is the number of places that tea is accessible. But not just tea, but good tea, and premium tea and specialty tea," said George Jage with the World Tea Expo.

Tea shops are popping up everywhere, and the clientele is growing.

"We're seeing, especially in the United States, anywhere from 25 to 65, male and female," said David Decandia with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

But is tea a healthier alternative to coffee?

"It does seem to be related to a decreased risk of diabetes, possibly some cancer protection, possible benefits on blood pressure, and there does seem to be some data on decreasing risk of stroke," said Dr. Donald Hensrud with the Mayo Clinic.

But tea isn't the only beneficial beverage. Experts say coffee also has health perks. So Hensrud says it all boils down to what you enjoy. Most adults can safely consume up to 300mg of caffeine per day.

"Black tea contains about half the amount of caffeine as coffee, so 8 ounces, about a little less than 50mg, and green tea about 25mg," Hensrud said.

That makes it possible to drink larger amounts of tea without feeling side effects.

"Like anything, drinking too much tea is possible, but most people probably don't get there," Hensrud said.

While more research needs to be done on just how much tea will reap health benefits, Hensrud says it may be as little as two cups a day, depending on the specific condition.

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