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Revolution in a Teacup

You've heard of the coffee wars, but have you noticed the 'revolution' in tea?

They have at Revolution Tea in Phoenix Arizona, a company at the nexus of marketing the exploding tea category.

Coffee -- what with Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonalds and the like 'slurping' it out in the public markets -- has been the focus, but tea, both hot and cold, has gone through a similar metamorphosis. Although still a largely 'commodity' product, a series of small boutique tea companies have developed over the last five years, all aimed at specific 'cups' in the tea world.

Revolution falls in there with Republic of Tea, Tazo and the like -- high-end, premium tea companies with an eye on quality... and on the opportunities that exist in the 6.5 billion dollar tea business. It's progressed to the point now where it's not good enough to have just good tea -- black, green and white from China -- but it's necessary to have a 'differentiator' (it's a CNBC word) as well.

For Revolution, it's all about its delivery system (see-through loose-leaf tea bags and pyramids), international markets (their biggest market is their smallest country, the Netherlands) and design.

The company was started by one-time trader Larry DeAngelis, a guy who cashed out and went looking for something to do. Tea was it. He found out it was easier to drink tea than it was to start a full-fledged tea company... Enter friend and former business partner David Watson, fresh from building and selling a couple of cosmetic companies. He had the money, DeAngelis the idea, so Watson bought in and brought along with him a design metric that has pushed Revolution onto shelves of mainstream stores all over the world.

It's cool... it's hip... it's tea.

You'll see all this and more on 'On The Money,' Monday night, May 21 in the 'Mike On America' segment.

I'm off to South Carolina to visit Duke's Mayo, then to North Carolina to sip a little Cat Daddy Moonshine and visit DEI.

The whole week sounds like a country song!

Questions? Comments? mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com