What's to Drink? (What's New?)

Article excerpt

It might seem that there's a Starbucks on every other corner, but that may be deceiving since there are growing signs that more and more Americans are turning away from coffee and leaning towards tea and other beverages. Herbal drinks in particular are making strong inroads, especially with many people expressing a conviction of their efficacy in promoting good health.

London Fruit & Herb Company, a British firm whose products are distributed in the U.S. by Fortunes International Teas, McKees Rocks, Pa. (www.libertyrichter.com, 1-800-494-8839), has combined green tea with fruit flavors--orange, peach, blackcurrant, and raspberry--as well as with black tea and jasmine flowers, to produce delicious brews that are naturally high in antioxidants, which have been credited by many sources to aid in prevention of cancer. For those who fear tea will keep them up at night, a line of caffeine-free blends rightfully bragging that they are bursting with fruit flavor offers a refreshing break. It features such mouth-watering sounding combinations as Apple & Cinnamon Twist, Lemon & Lime Zest, and Strawberry & Vanilla Fool, plus Blackcurrant Bracer, Peach Paradise, Raspberry Rendezvous, Orange Spicer, and Blueberry Bliss.

When it comes to an all-out assault by the green tea juggernaut, at the forefront is Ito En (North America) Inc., New York (www.itoen.com), the U.S. branch of Japan's leader in green tea beverages. Its Teas' Tea line of bottled tea--Pure Green, Golden Oolong, Green Jasmine, and Green Hoji--is sweetened, loaded with vitamin C, yet sugar- and calorie-free, thus a magnet for those watching their weight and figures. At the same time, stepping into the juice market, its Gotta Juice creates intriguing combinations that, surprisingly to us, blended fruits and vegetables for an intensely refreshing taste, even without sugar. Red Bliss is a tart/sweet blending of tomatoes, white grapes, and apple and lemon juice; Carrot Joy melds apple, lemon, and carrot juice; Green Green combines green vegetables with fruit; and Amber Garden is a medley of garden fruits and vegetables. The freshness of the ingredients at bottling time adds to the nutritional quotient.

Toddy Products, Houston, Tex. (www.toddyproducts.com, 1-713-225-2066), manages to straddle both the tea and cappuccino camps with low-caffeine Apricot & Green Tea and Toddy Chai concentrates (just add seven parts water), the latter blending China black tea, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamon, and honey for a stimulatingly spicy drink. …