By  on June 15, 2007

Tracy Stern's sprawling global tea empire, which integrates tea into beauty, fashion and home decoration, is expanding its beauty offerings beyond beauty-based teas with her BeauTea collection of bath, body and skin care products.

Stern had been blending teas in her kitchen for years, but it wasn't until four years ago that her business took off with the launch of her signature SalonTea line. The collection features seven teas, whose blends were each inspired by 18th-century characters, such as the Society Hostess, Artist, Fashionable Dandy, Writer, Musician, Romantic and Lover. Stern's passion for tea started when she began collecting tea cups as a child and tea pots throughout college. Her first Royal Tea Room, which opened in Tampa in 1996, featured all of her original tea pots.

"For me, it's about a lifestyle revolving around tea. It's about friends coming together," said Stern. "I've always loved the romance, history and fantasy behind it. There are even beauty and health benefits like cutting fat and lowering cholesterol."

The tea-infused beauty collection includes green tea, an ingredient whose antioxidants and nutrients boost the immune system and eliminate toxins. She also introduced a new tea line under the BeauTea brand that featured five teas designed to address specific problems: Awakening, Toxic, Natural, Slimming and Sleeping Beauty. Other items in the collection include foot, bath and eye teas, in addition to tea-infused perfume, eye gel, moisturizing lotion, soap and lip balm.

"Applying tea products topically will only get to the first layer of skin, so I believe in incorporating tea as part of both your inner and outer beauty routine," said Stern, who added that she drinks up to 12 cups of tea daily. "Drinking tea to me is like taking your daily vitamin."

Late this fall, Stern plans to launch a line of tea-based cosmeceutical products, blending white tea with ginger, in a foaming cleanser facial wash, serum and moisturizer.

According to industry sources, SalonTea and BeauTea generate roughly $1.5 million. The company hopes to triple its overall business by year's end with the brand's global expansion.

BeauTea, which originally launched online on the company's Web site, is now available in high-end spas such as Bliss, St. Regis and W, in addition to Harvey Nichols in Dubai, where the company plans to open a boutique in the fall. Stern also has plans to open tearooms in various Dubai hotels this fall. The company also will expand distribution in the fall in London, France and the Middle East in stores such as Nina Campbell in London and Franck et Fils in Paris. In New York, Stern is preparing for the opening of her first freestanding tea party store in SoHo, with plans for future stores in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Paris. In addition, a direct-mail campaign is planned over the next six months.

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