Martino, of Capital Teas, said customers at her shops often ask about health benefits, especially after pronouncements by celebrity physicians such as Mehmet Oz. Whenever Oz mentions a certain tea, Martino said, "people come flooding in looking for that tea."
Erika Sanchez, a manager at the Teaism shop in Washington, said customers do much the same at her shop — and then discover how many different types of teas are out there: "If you're new to the tea world, it can be surprising."
America's rising interest in tea has been attracting international attention.
Sundeep Mukherjee, principal adviser to the Darjeeling Tea Association, said three-quarters of the tea from that region of India is exported, with up to 10 percent going to the United States, a portion that's been rising over the last decade as health benefits become more widely known.
"The tea industry is doing well," Mukherjee said. "This is a product everyone drinks."
Ungar is the medical writer at the Courier-Journal in Louisville.