"White tea comes from the flowering buds of the plant," explains Alex Reist, spokesman for Inko's White Tea (www.healthywhitetea.com). "The buds are covered in silvery fuzz for only a few days each spring and must be harvested at that time."
Celestial Seasonings, Boulder, Colo. (www.celestialseasonings.com), the largest manufacturer and marketer of specialty teas in the U.S., has three white tea varieties in its filter-bag line. Celestial is the grandfather of specialty teas, especially herbals.
Pace University, New York, released research indicating that white tea may top green tea in germ-killing power. "Our research indicates white tea extract can destroy in vitro the organisms that cause disease," writes Milton Schiffenbauer, a microbiologist at Pace, in a recent report on tea. The Pace study also found white tea neutralizes dental bacteria, and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reported that white tea performed favorably in animal studies in preventing bacterial DNA damage.
Driving the cold tea beverage business from its beginnings was the big push for better quality tea by a new generation of tea drinkers. Companies such as Honest Tea (www.honesttea.com), Bethesda, Md., and Arizona Beverage Co., New York, (www.arizonabev.com) popularized flavored teas as cold refreshment with ever-expanding varieties of tea-based beverages in attractive cans and bottles.
Chai, with origins in India, has recently gained a strong foothold. Generally brewed or served with milk, it is a fuller-bodied beverage than most teas, which is why it often shares billing with the premium brews at the coffeehouse.
Tazo (www.tazo.com), Seattle, is a chai beverage leader. Its Chai Latte is Starbucks' chai of choice. Tazo claims its tea products – the line is called "the reincarnation of tea" - carry calming and soothing properties.
In addition to ready-to-drink teas, the century-old teabag has been getting a makeover for the new market. Innovative Beverage Concepts (www.teaology.com), Aliso Viejo, Calif., developed radical new packaging for its Teaology line of green teas. Marketed as "modern technology in tea," the company calls its line "the first instant pocket-sized green tea beverage," referring to the travel-friendly wallets and sealed foil sachets that package the four-flavor line. Binh Tran, logistics manager, explains that the product can be mixed instantly with cold water.
Beverage makers clearly are only beginning to tap the potential of the vast tea market.
|Teaology set out to create unique green tea blends and ended up developing special packaging technology to complement the product.