South Korea's tea imports spiked last year as demand increased for healthy and diet foods, customs data showed Sunday.
According to the data by Korea Customs Service (KCS), South Korea imported 8,234 tons of tea last year, up 97 percent from 4,171 tons imported in 2009.
The imports were valued at US$48.38 million, which represented a 187 percent rise from the $16.86 million tallied four years earlier, the data showed.
Imports of yerba mate tea surged from 47 tons in 2009 to 446 tons in 2013, while those of green tea also jumped from 15 tons to 34 tons.
Instant coffee imports increased from 5,003 tons to 6,990 tons over the same period, but the amount is quite smaller than in 2011 and 2012, when the country brought in 8,486 tons and 8,937 tons, respectively, the data showed.
"As demand is on the rise for healthy foods, imports of tea products also continue to rise," a customs official said.
"However, imports of instant coffee products seem to be shrinking as popularity is growing for high-end coffee brands." (Yonhap News)