Tea becomes trendy as industry turns over a new leaf

Tue Feb 2, 2010 3:16pm EST
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Miral Fahmy

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Who wants a cup of tea? It's not just Britons, old ladies and laborers enjoying a cuppa any more, with the world's most consumed drink after water getting a make-over and attracting younger, more discerning fans.

If teatime conjures up images of women in hats nibbling on scones, chances are you've not stepped into any of the hundreds of modern tea rooms and tea bars becoming as ubiquitous as the brew they offer.

These gourmet establishments can be found from the United States to Australia, often stocking hundreds of blends of tea, with British department store Selfridges even reportedly offering an aphrodisiac tea called Love Potion ahead of Valentine's Day.

"The days of tea appreciation are over, now it's all about chilling out with a tea cocktail," said Jutta Waldeck, a tea expert who has been in the industry for over a decade and does consulting work for Singapore-based lifestyle brand Naturalis.

"We need to keep innovating tea so that it remains relevant to the lifestyles of the younger generation."

Naturalis, which sources its teas from all over the world and then blends then in Germany, creates custom blends for hotels and spas, advises on tea lounges as well as lifestyle events that revolve around tea.

They are also offering a tea bar concept where people can customize their blend for an array of loose leaf tea and flavorings.

TWG Tea, a Singapore-based gourmet brand available in Britain, the United States, the Middle East and Asia, set up its first dedicated tea lounge more than two years ago.   Continued...

<p>A Wedgwood teapot, cup and saucer and a silverplate bud vase used on stage during Barbra Streisand's 2004 concert for John Kerry in Los Angeles is displayed at a press preview of items from the auction "The Collection of Barbra Streisand" in Beverly Hills October 12, 2009. REUTERS/ Fred Prouser</p>