If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d rather lick a sidewalk than drink a cup of coffee. I’ll probably always be a devout worshipper at the altar of tea. But even so, I can’t help but be a bit skeptical about the notion that seems to be cropping up lately that tea drinking here in these great United States will one day outstrip coffee drinking.

It’s an idea that popped up recently in the Los Angeles Times, in an article whose headline exclaimed, “In the Beverage Industry, it’s Definitely Tea’s Time.”

English Breakfast Blend No. 2 (ETS image)

English Breakfast Blend No. 2 (ETS image)

It suggests that more Americans are “citing concerns about over-caffeination and high prices,” which is apparently prompting a “cultural shift” in the general direction of tea.

Domestic tea sales are said to have increased a respectable 32% in a five-year period ending in 2012, a year in which they totaled $15.7 billion, a figure that’s expected to jump to $18 billion in another two years. The article goes on to cite tea endorsements, branded lines and whatnot from celebrities as well as an increasing interest in tea by giant beverage firms to support its position that tea is becoming the next big thing.

Also noted, the increasing interest in tea by a certain giant corporation that’s become almost synonymous with coffee over the course of the last decade or two. For another take on these themes take a look at this article from a financial Web site. It looks more closely at this coffee giant’s renewed focus on tea.

All of which is well and good and as a tea fan I don’t see how there can be much of a downside to this – except possibly for higher tea prices. Even so, I can’t help feeling, deep down inside, that tea drinking here is not about to overtake coffee drinking any time soon. And while my opinion might not be much to go on consider that near the end of the Los Angeles Times article it’s noted that the wholesale market for tea is still only about one-tenth that of coffee. Which sounds like a classic case of counting one’s chickens before they’ve hatched but what do I know.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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