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Tea Economics: How to Boost Restaurant Tea Sales

April 10th, 2019

For decades, the tea selection was found on the back page of a restaurant menu. Almost an afterthought, tea was perceived as a drink for our grandmothers, or to soothe a sore throat. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. From fragrant Earl Grey, to the umami-rich Fukamushi Sencha, there is a tea for every occasion and personality.    

It is time to showcase the beauty of this beverage. Don’t allow all the work that you’ve invested in selecting your loose-leaf tea offerings go to waste, instead bring your selections front and centre. List the tea names, ingredients, tasting notes, and even suggested pairings.    

Your menu already offers a variety of opportunities to elevate your tea selections, including feature tea cocktails, low ABV or 0%  feature drinks, speciality lattes, and iced teas.   

When creating your restaurant tea menu, don’t forget the children’s section! Rooibos and other caffeine-free herbals are a sugar-free, healthy alternative that children and parents alike will enjoy.  

Are you missing conversion opportunities?

Did you know that every single customer that requests water could be a potential tea customer?   

The motivations between water drinkers and tea drinkers can be quite similar. So, how do we convert these water drinkers to tea? Highlight the benefits of tea though a feature menu, and provide chilled options for those wanting a beverage that provides refreshment.   

Quick Comparison between Water and Tea:

Benefits  Water  Tea 
Health  Energizing  Energizing, high in antioxidants,  
Hydrating  Replaces Fluids  Replaces Fluids 
Zero Calories  Yes  Yes 
Flavour  Neutral flavour  Variety of flavours-Tea for every mood and every occasion 
Sustainability   Plastic or Glass Packaging (depending on the type of bottle chosen)  Minimal footprint especially if using loose leaf tea and an inhouse filtration system for your water 

Water is not the only conversion opportunity.  Offer a cup of chai to a coffee drinker who is looking for a spicier change, talk about terroir to a wine connoisseur, or add some sparkling water to your iced teas for a dynamic substitute to soda. 

Engage your (tea)m!

For restaurant owners and FOH managers, creating a new tea menu is exciting. But, don’t forget about your staff. Engage your team in the tea experience including having them see, smell and taste each new type that you offer.  This process will help them understand your business’ tea offerings and make it easier to engage in a tea conversation with their customers.  

It’s a great idea to take the time to discuss and taste the difference between loose leaf and standard tea bags, so that your employees can speak to quality with confidence 

Loose-leaf or orthodox teas are specifically created to highlight aspects of the tea leaves. The production method of these teas is both labour intensive and time consuming, including being often produced and plucked by hand.  The result is well worth all the effort. Orthodox teas reveal the nuanced and unique flavours hidden within the leaf, which means that they are wonderful on their own or with a light amount of sugar or honey. 

The traditional tea bags that you and your staff may have grown up with were most likely CTC (crush, tear, curl) teas. These teas are produced quickly and provide a more homogenised flavour to the tea profile.   Due to the stronger, sometimes more astringent flavour, these teas are often mixed with milk or other flavourings to mask the bitter taste.  

When highlighting your tea menu, talk about your tea program with your guests. Present the teas to them (we offer convenient sniffer boxes for this purpose) so that they may both see and sniff the whole leaves. But don’t stop there share the story behind the tea from the work involved with plucking those tea leaves, to where the ingredients were sourced to create that final blend.  

High quality, loose leaf tea is an investment in your business.  These teas offer an opportunity for elevated beverages, creative pairings or to simply leave a positive impression at the end of your customer’s meal.