The Year in Tea – A Retrospective

The year in tea closed with a bang, of sorts. If you pay even a little bit of attention to the tea industry you probably already know that. Even if you know nothing about tea you might have heard about the wheeling and dealing between some of the big players in tea retailing and those looking to establish a firmer footing in the business. No need to rehash that since I recently wrote about it here, but I thought it should merit at least a passing mention.

May your New Year be full of tea! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
May your New Year be full of tea! (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Speaking of big players, Billy Corgan, guitar player and front man for the Smashing Pumpkins, grabbed his fair share of headlines and did his part to raise tea’s profile a bit when he opened a tea café in the Chicago area this year. If you’re still not convinced that tea and rock and roll go together, note that there are also a few other rock and rollers who have taken to tea retailing, as I wrote in an article earlier this year.

This would be as good a time as any to roll out a few facts and figures about how the tea industry grew this year and how it will continue to grow in the upcoming year, but I won’t. It did and it will, and the fact and figures are out there if you want them. But for my money, one of the best indicators of the robust health of the tea industry is how many new merchants seem to be hanging out their shingle every day.

I almost always click through to these merchant sites every time I run across a name I don’t remember seeing before. If I were more organized, I’d have attempted to keep track of them, but I’d be willing to bet that I came across at least one new tea seller every other day throughout 2012, and even that’s probably a low figure.

And not to be a downer, but this brings to mind one of my favorite topics, one that I also wrote about here this year. That’s how so many of these aspiring merchants don’t seem to have caught on to the fact that there are hundreds of others doing the exact same thing and maybe they should think about how to distinguish themselves. If they want to be around at the end of 2013, that is. Or if they want to celebrate a twentieth anniversary, like the good people at Republic of Tea did this year. Say what you want about their “tea company as a country” gimmick, but they must be doing something right.

So, tea’s doing just fine for itself, thank you, and it will continue to do so as we break out our noisemakers and stronger drink to ring in the New Year. But if you ever got to wondering how all this came to be, I offered up a few thoughts earlier this year in an article called How Tea Became Hip.

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