Trouble brews for city’s coffee

A tea party is poised to invade Manhattan, but it’s not the kind that carries Sarah Palin signs.

Over eight new teashops have opened in New York City in the past year, and more are in the pipeline.

“The tea market is growing astronomically,” said Kim Dossin, assistant manager of TeaGschwendner, a Germany-based teashop that opened at Rockefeller Center and on the Upper West Side this year. More outposts are planned for 2011. “It’s amazing how many office workers come down and grab tea now.”

The health benefits of tea, combined with slightly cheaper commercial rents, and an alternative to coffee, are fueling the trend.

“The coffee market is oversaturated,” said Jacques Doassans, who just opened The Tea Set in the West Village in September. “We’ve done everything you can do to coffee. And I get so many people in here telling me ‘I just quit coffee.’”

But despite the surge in popularity, “you can’t pay the rent on tea alone,” Doassans warns, especially in Manhattan. Businesses that combine tea with something else — he sells champagne alongside afternoon tea — are the most likely to succeed, he predicts.

“A tea place could be super boring,” said Doassans. “People want to have fun. Here, you drink tea and you leave tipsy. It’s very New York.”

Tea time now open to children

The lack of caffeine in herbal teas opens up a new market Starbucks often can’t serve: children. TeaGschwendner markets to children with fruit tea flavors like Gummy Bear fruit tea and Mr. Ollivander’s Magic Potion. “We have 5- to 7-year-old children in here and they know their green teas,” said Dossin. –Metro



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