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By Laura Klein

Americans enjoyed 50 billion servings of tea last year, which translates to 2.25 billion gallons, according to the Tea Association of the United States. Tea has become a multibillion-dollar industry, with sales growing by approximately 12% a year. Sales are expected to reach $10 billion by 2010 — a huge increase from last year’s $6.1 billion.

The World Tea Expo, an industry trade show held in March, drew a record crowd of 4,122 tea companies and retailers from dozens of countries, reflecting the “exponential growth the industry is experiencing,” according to George Jage, the Expo’s founder and president. Consumers now recognize tea’s health benefits (see our recent story, Organic Tea: A Brewer’s Paradise), and connoisseurs savor the wide variety of teas now available.

So, what’s happening in the burgeoning tea trade? Here’s a crash course in tea trends for readers who enjoy the finest offerings in organic living.

1. Name Your Favorite

When you shop for organic food, how do your tea choices compare to the average American’s? In the flavor department, see where your organic tea selections weigh in. According to the trade journal Tea & Coffee, Americans’ top 10 flavored teas are:

  1. Tropical
  2. Passion fruit
  3. Chai
  4. Raspberry
  5. Strawberry
  6. Black currant
  7. Mango
  8. Peach
  9. Lemon
  10. Earl Grey/Bergamot

The Tea Association notes that 85% of the tea we drink is iced. As for varieties, 87% of us choose black tea, while 12.5% opt for green tea.

2. And Speaking of Chai…

You can’t visit a mainstream or organic food market without seeing chai-flavored everything. Consumers are swooning over the fragrant blend of tea, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves — a favorite in India for hundreds of years. Many of us prefer our chai with a touch of milk. Masala Chai is one of the top sellers in Organic Authority’s Online Store.

Chai has also found its way into organic bath and beauty products. The Organic Bath Company makes Honey Chai Body Butter, Exfoliating Body Scrub and Super-hydrating Body Lotion, among other products. Sensibility Soaps has introduced a new organic line called Nourish, which includes Chai Vanilla Body Wash and Body Dressing.

3. On-the-Go Convenience

One of the largest segments of the tea industry is ready-to-drink single servings. According to the Tea Association, sales have increased tenfold over the last decade, reaching $2.4 billion last year.

Popular organic choices include:

4. Accessorize Your Tea

Still brewing tea in an old-fashioned pot and pouring it into a generic mug? The tea accessory market is a culinary playground for organic food fans who are particular about their morning brew.

Check out the Wisdom Wand, profiled in Organic Authority’s blog in November. It’s a handcrafted, heatproof glass straw that boosts flavor by filtering and brewing loose tea right in your cup through specially designed strainer holes.

Timolino’s Travette Tea Maker features a roomy tea basket infuser that removes bitterness, producing a highly fragrant tea. The basket ensures loose tea has the space required to properly release flavors during infusion.

5. Tea for Kids

Traditional Medicinals, a manufacturer of organic teas, has introduced Just for Kids, a medicinal line for children. There’s Organic Throat Coat (sweet and spicy), Organic Tummy Comfort (chamomile, lemon balm and peppermint), Organic Nighty Night (hibiscus and chamomile) and Organic Cold Care (chamomile and peppermint). Teas are pharmaceutical grade and kosher certified.

Visit Organic Authority’s Tea Boutique

At Organic Authority, we recommend organic Rishi Tea for its superior flavor and quality. Our top sellers are: