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Tea Drinking Gaining Popularity Over Coffee

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Coffee has long been one of the most popular drinks in the US but, experts say, there is a change brewing.

A beverage steeped in history, tea drinking seems to be rising in popularity but are South Floridians ready to trade their coffee break for tea time?

Angela Betancourt used to rely on java to jump start her day.

"It would take five or six cups of coffee for me to even feel any effects," said Betancourt.

Angela, though, decided it was time to take a coffee break switched over to tea.

"It's exciting to go out there and try the different kinds."

For millions of Americans, like Angela, tea time is emerging in popularity and appears to be becoming a trend.

Gorge Jage, founder and director of the World Tea Expo, says tea sales are expected to grow about 50-percent in the next three years in the United States. Experts believe that by 2017 the ancient brew may even outsell coffee.

"The big reason tea is exploding in popularity in the United States right now is the number of places that tea is accessible. But not just tea, but good tea, and premium tea and specialty tea," said Jage.

Tea joints are popping up nationwide, and tea menus are even expanding at retailers normally known for their coffee.

Dr. Donald Hensrud with the Mayo Clinic says the health benefits of tea have been studied extensively.

"It does seem to be related to a decreased risk of diabetes, possibly some cancer protection, possible benefits on blood pressure, and there does seem to be some data on decreasing risk of stroke," said Dr. Hensrud.

While tea certainly has its health perks, some experts say that coffee, too, has its benefits.

It's no secret that coffee drinking, think Cuban coffee, is part of the local culture, but some South Floridians CBS4 talked to also partake in tea drinking.

"Coffee in the morning for me is better than the tea. It works for me because it wakes me up. Tea after three or four, it's real relaxing," said Paulina Galvez.

Dr. Hensrud said it all boils down to what you enjoy as most adults can safely consume up to 300 MG of caffeine per day.

"Black tea contains about half the amount of caffeine as coffee so eight ounces about, a little less than 50 mg and green tea about 25 mg," said Dr. Hensrud.

The lower amount in caffeine in tea makes it possible to drink greater amounts without feeling side effects.

"Like anything, drinking too much tea is possible, but most people probably don't get there," Dr, Hensrud said.

While more research needs to be done on just how much tea reaps health benefits, Dr. Hensrud believes it may be as little as two cups a day—depending on the specific condition.

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