January 2009 Issue
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Tea Scrying 2009

by Cynthia Fazekas

What a year 2008! Many of us are still scratching our heads or reeling from all the upheaval and uncertainty. Hopefully, the worst is behind us and as we move into 2009 we can focus on healing, rebuilding and re-growth.

So what can we expect as tea trends in 2009? Good question! Our predictions are that businesses that provide fine tea as an affordable luxury and as an escape from worries and woes will continue to thrive. It is a little harder to determine what teas will be popular this year, but we will consult our tealeaf oracle and give it a shot.

Exotic fruit flavors will likely continue their steady rise in popularity. Flavors such as jackfruit, guanabana, and dragonfruit will intrigue consumers and give them a new way to try on a new fruit, so to speak.

Old favs! Earl Grey, like a comfy old sweater still reigns supreme in most tea assortments. It and standards such as Irish and English Breakfast still provide familiarity and a sense of security for those just making the leap from run of the mill teas to finer whole leaf teas. Try to always have at least one of them in stock!

Chai - This spiced beauty never seems to run out of fans and the possibilities are endless when you want to play around with spices. Traditional Masala Chai made properly will always find a way to warm a chilly day and newer version with dessert-like qualities such as chocolate or nuts added can make a fine treat.

Coconut seems to be a highly sought culinary ingredient these days and with its popularity in Thai dishes and desserts growing we also so see its star rising in tea blends that contain it. It has an element of tropical exotic while still being comfortably familiar.

Savories - Haute cuisine followers have likely noted combinations of sweet and savory flavors becoming more popular. Old culinary rules are being challenged and new intriguing pairings are breaking down old rules. Don't be surprised to see more flavors considered nontraditional in teas on the horizons. Look for blends such as tomato basil green tea or cucumber white to become more prevalent.

Oolongs - For a long time it seemed as though there was confusion about what oolongs were. Their broad range of character and that they are not green tea or black tea confused people. The "tea for weight loss" wuyi craze provided a format for tea sellers to talk about oolong, clear up some myths and expose consumers to the wondrous and diverse beauty oolongs have to offer. Look for them to continue to grow in popularity.

Now we put our crystal ball teacup aside and wish you well. Happy New Year and may 2009 be a peaceful, wonderful year for you!