Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grande Mocha Frap? No, Thank You. I'll Have A Grande Tea.

By the end of the 1990’s Starbucks was a household name. They lined the streets in almost every major metropolitan area, supposedly offering some of the most unique coffees and lattes and espressos in a fresh, hip setting. The Starbucks brand became ubiquitous with caffeine. Chains like Saxby’s, Juan Valdez, and Seattle’s Best subsequently began sprouting up around the country trying to mimic Starbucks’ success. Ultimately, they helped make coffee the next “it” thing. Celebrities started toting cups around as their new favorite accessory and businessmen and women lined up before work for their daily fixes.

is tea the new coffee?
photo by Alice Gao

But now, in the twenty-first century, coffee and coffee drinks are no longer so desirable. People are trying to cut back their spending because of the economy, and they're watching out for the calories that all that cream and sugar carries. Instead, an ancient form of beverage that has existed for centuries seems to be taking the spotlight, maybe even becoming the next big thing. That beverage is, of course, tea.

Tea . . . is it the new coffee? Well, it’s significantly less expensive than coffee, carries almost no calories or fats and provides great benefits like antioxidants. In the health-conscious, budget-aware consumer world we live in nowadays, we want something that is cool yet cost effective yet high quality. Im most fields and products, this may be hard to find. But tea seems to have it all. It can be combined and produced in a variety of flavors, from orange to plum to ginger to chocolate, is available in large quantities, and is simple to find and make.

To emphasize this, many new century figures - pioneers of the hip - are turning to teas instead of double espressos. Digg.com founder Kevin Rose, according to a recent article by Wired.com, began spending up to a thousand dollars a month on tea for his employees. He acknowledges the benefits of the beverage and the potential it has in making people productive and energetic which, unlike the caffeine in coffee and energy drinks, is something that seldom wears out. Being a product that is natural and literally from the Earth, many people are drawn to the prospects of specialty teas. There’s no need for hundred dollar coffee makers or gallons of creamer when all you need is a tea bag, some water and maybe a teaspoon of honey.

It seems the world is quickly catching up on this. To replace the tired old coffee shops, tea bars are popping up all across the country, from the Silicon Valley to right here in Philadelphia. Tea, it appears, is fast on its way to becoming the new, healthy social lubricant. Even coffee retailers like Starbucks have picked up on the trend and now offer a wide range of teas along with the standard lattes and mochas. Here in Philadelphia, one can also find quite a few specialty shops offering nothing but organic, wholesome teas. Remedy Tea Bar (16th and Sansom Streets) owned by sisters Kristen and Courtney has become a gem in the city, providing innovative ways to make tea appealing to both skeptics and long time connoisseurs. The Hill Tea Bar (6 East Hartwell Lane) in Chestnut Hill offers a scenic English garden in which to sip your tea, in case the bustling city crowd isn’t you thing. Midtown Village’s chic T-Bar (117 S. 12th Street) serves the yuppie and hipster crowds with rare and distinct blends, as well as offers great tips and recipes for do-it-yourself drinks. And, of course, there is always the simplest option - buy a box of tea for a few bucks, brew it at home, sit back and enjoy.


  1. Um, know your facts. Seattle's Best and Starbucks are the same company. Everyone knows that.

  2. Seattle's Best wasn't acquired by Starbucks until 2003, so the sentence about it in this piece is still valid. Sorry for any confusion it may have caused.



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