It has been a long time coming but the same wave that transformed coffee has reached the shores of the world of tea. With the media staking bold claims such as ‘the British Cuppa is officially dead’, tea houses cropping up all over the United Kingdom, and stats revealing steady growth in premium tea sales – 12% in 3-years says data from Kantar: June 2017 – now is the time to sit up and pay attention to your tea menu if you want to stay ahead of the curve.
If your tea menu needs a little attention or a complete overhaul, here are 8-ways to ensure you’re creating an effective and interesting tea offering:
Keep it concise.
The variety of tea can be overwhelming, so it’s best to keep a simple tea list with three or four permanent teas. In addition to this, you should rotate one or two seasonal or special teas every few months to keep it fresh and provide opportunity for storytelling and education around the different tea types.
Create the right balance.
Green and herbal teas are driving the move away from traditional black tea served with milk, but you still need to keep some traditional options for customers. A balanced selection might include Assam Breakfast, Earl Grey, Green, Premium Green, Oolong (or other specialty) and two different types of herbal teas.
Offer teas at different price points.
Maximise the margin made on each type of tea and guide customer interest towards premium, rare and seasonal teas. In a luxury context, pricing has been known to range from £5 per cup for an excellent daily drinking green, to £15 for a special oolong – such as famous Wuyi Big Red Robe – offering these establishments plenty of opportunity for upsell and higher margins.
Create a menu that gives people an opportunity to try an amazing example of a comforting classic and then encourages them to explore the world of tea. Usually this is through flavours that people already understand such as floral, grassy, smoky or woody – be prepared to make recommendations.
Make it seasonal.
At an establishment where tea is understood and where guests are open to trying more refined flavours, offer a short tea menu of seasonal specials that really reflect the tea origins and seasons. This might mean adding refreshing spring Chinese green teas in April and May, or warming roasted oolongs from Taiwan’s winter crop in October to November, where the taste profile of the tea matches the seasonal climate.
Perhaps try optional extras such as making premium teas with mineral water for a surcharge. Highlight what temperature each tea is made at and how this affects the flavour profile of certain teas.
Train staff to promote your offering.
There is little point simply asking the customer what tea they want as the answer will most likely be something simple such as ‘breakfast or green tea’. To encourage them to try one of your carefully selected teas, either train waiting staff to talk through the options or always present the menu before taking the order.
Align your offering to your brand.
The variety of teas means there is a great opportunity to curate your offering in line with your brand, or with subjects that you know are important to your customers. For example, if you’re an establishment with a healthy eating focus, herbal infusions and Matcha tea should resonate successfully; if you’re an artisan coffee house, complex oolong teas will surprise the coffee drinker; or if you’re more of the traditional persuasion, premium or supreme examples of classic teas add something extra special to the experience.
Sally Gurteen – @thecafecat
Sally works as the Master Storyteller for JING Tea, dealing with and curating the best stories she can find from the tea gardens and beyond. She has also previously worked with a major coffee house and numerous food and drink brands.