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Coffee and Tea Reports from the Front Lines

Yerba Mate Tea May Be Healthier Than Green Tea

South America — A University food science and nutrition professor has found yerba mate tea to have more antioxidants than green tea. Yerba mate is less studied than green tea, but a growing body of scientific research on it has been published recently. In test tubes, the tea hinders growth of some kinds of cancer cells, but so far there is no proof of cancer-retarding properties in humans.

The South American tea is sold by companies that say it’s full of nutrients that fight disease, provide energy and aid weight loss. Research does show that yerba mate has positive effects on cells in test tubes, animals and some human studies.

Research by University professor Elvira de Mejia and her graduate students Caleb Heck and Laura Kim shows that the tea contains a greater concentration of antioxidants than green tea. Although yerba mate has more antioxidants than green tea, it has little or no catechines, a green tea ingredient linked to lowering the risk of prostate cancer. “The difference is small, and depends on the brand and how you brew it,” de Mejia said.

Yerba mate has become increasingly popular despite its grassy taste because of health claims ranging from cancer-fighting ability to prevention of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. “Yerba mate tea has the same energizing effect as coffee, but has a smoother balance stimulant effect and it lasts longer,” Heck said.

Whittard of Chelsea Opens First Boutique in Boston

United States — According to a report published by Comunicaffè International & Comunicaffè, Whittard of Chelsea opened its first tea boutique in Boston, Massachutes and plans a major U.S. roll-out in the hope of getting a foothold in its competitive hot drinks market.

Whittard director of USA operations Andrew Richardson stated, “The aim is to provide U.S. coffee drinkers with a quality alternative across the nation. We think there is a significant and growing market for Whittard of Chelsea’s brand and products in the states. We have seen the success that branded speciality espresso bar chains have achieved in the U.K. and we intend to do the same for tea over there.”

The tea and coffee specialist said it plans to open a further three U.S. outlets this summer. It will open 30 stores on high streets, in shopping malls and lifestyle centers by the middle of next year. Shops are also being considered in Canada. Richardson added, “Our new boutiques will complement U.S.–style tea shops, but will have a quintessential Englishness about them, making them highly unique.”

Americans Double Spending in Coffee Shops

United States — Five years ago the U.S. coffee market was worth US$19bn, and reached US$29.3bn last year. This trend is only going to get bigger, according to independent market analyst Datamonitor (DTM.L), with coffee sales forecast to grow by an additional US$10bn, to US$39.5bn in 2011.

Coffee consumed away from home is unequivocally dominating consumers spend, and is set to account for three quarters of all sales in the next five years. The big winners are coffee shops whose sales have grown over 19% a year for the past five years. “The growth of coffee shop culture has been pivotal in educating consumers about different blends and varieties of coffee.

Consumers are increasingly demanding more sophisticated offerings from other outlets such as quick service restaurants and packaged goods manufacturers,” stated Matthew Jones, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor and author of the report. While packaged goods manufacturers have been slow to recreate the coffee shop experience in consumers homes, quick service restaurants have responded effectively by launching gourmet coffee lines, and selling ethically sourced coffee.

Coffee to Take Flight in Space

United States –– In June, a quarter-pound of coffee beans will be carried to the edge of space in a high altitude balloon. The beans will ascend to an altitude of 20 miles while being exposed to extremes of cold, vacuum and cosmic rays. At the end of the mission, the vehicle carrying the coffee will descend to Earth by parachute.

After landing, the coffee will be auctioned off on eBay to raise money for space education. The mission, called Away 33, will be the 91st flown by JP Aerospace, which is an independent space program staffed by volunteers dedicated to bringing space travel to everyone.

JP Aerospace is also on the lookout for coffee companies that have a special blend they want carried aloft. “The space barristas at JPA are more than happy to oblige,” says John Powell, president of JP Aerospace.

Vietnam to Have Tea Auction Floor

Vietnam – According to a report published on VietnamNet, The Vietnamese Government has agreed to a project to build a US$522,180 trading floor where made-in-Vietnam tea products are to be auctioned in a bid to boost the country’s lagging tea industry.

Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem ratified a feasibility project to build the “tea auction floor” for the first time, using money from a non-refundable aid granted by the French Development Agency (AFD).

According to the Vietnamese Tea Association, the floor would also allow domestic tea companies to promote their products. It hopes tea companies from around the world will set up representative offices in Vietnam.

The price of Vietnamese tea is only half compared to tea from Sri Lanka or India though the quality is roughly the same, the association said. Tea prices in Vietnam have also fallen 50% in the past seven years.



Tea & Coffee - June, 2007
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