The triumphant call coming from many tea companies right now is that tea is "the new coffee" - and if you believe the hype, next year your skinny mocha might be replaced by a light oolong...

And these days, it doesn't sound that outlandish either - the American chain Teavana is growing more and more popular, and Starbucks has even begun carrying a line of 'premium' teas alongside its coffees.

Blue is the new black? Again?

But will tea really replace coffee? Although we'd be ecstatic if more people start drinking Chinese teas, we're not convinced - our feeling (and hope) is that tea and coffee will sit alongside each other representing different lifestyles and attitudes.

The coffee explosion in the 1990s embodied a new form of lifestyle - fast paced, connected and modern. Coffee, with its high caffeine payload and the ubiquitous takeaway cup, was the perfect accompaniment for the new modern worker who had flexible hours, got emails on their phone, and was always-on-the-go.

Tea is different. Rather than new, fast-paced and sleek, tea represents the same movement that includes the rise of farmers markets and yoga - a search for something natural and authentic to balance our lives. While many people of my generation in the UK were brought up on cheap, sugary and milky tea, it's more likely that a search for something healthier and more natural is going to fuel the boom in real tea.

Plus, while variations in types of coffee are limited (unless you start adding caramel, vanilla and other flavourings etc.), the number of different varieties of tea are limitless. There are literally hundreds of types of tea, and so tea drinking must take a different shape where the customer explores and learns to enjoy many different types.

Drink it while it's hot

So what do you think? Will the next generation be lounging in a tea-bar drinking Iron Buddha while they chat with friends?

Actually, we hope tea follows wine more than coffee. The greatest part of tea-drinking is appreciating a good leaf, tasting the variations that different weather and processing creates, and sharing that with friends. Glugging a cheap shot of coffee in-between the office and the underground isn't really compatible with tea drinking.

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