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Pricey tea a growing niche crop in US, even Canada

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. – A growing number of North American farmers from Mississippi to British Columbia are growing tea for the high-priced specialty market.

Tea consultant Nigel Melican (MEL-ih-can) says they can make money because more people are willing to pay premium prices for what they consider top quality.

The Tea Association of the U.S.A. says that market is growing 8 to 10 per cent a year.

Prices range from about $8 for a box of 12 tea bags to nearly $700 a pound. Grower Jason McDonald of Brookhaven, Mississippi, began to farm tea after Hurricane Katrina wiped out his timber. He says he doesn’t expect prices to remain that high.