In the cafes and tea rooms around Australia, I love seeing new groups of young fashionista’s who seem to dress in a mix of 1950’s chic meets; “Alice in Wonderland”, a pinch of “Willy Wonka” and a splash of colour from -“The Wizard of Oz”. I also think there might just be a few Edward Scissor Hands out there as well!! Their bright colourful outfits and vibrant demeanor bring a breath of fresh air to these cafes and tea rooms, pushing out the bohemian, all black, slightly grunge look of past years.
Recently I was invited to help with the start up of a student tea society at Sydney’s UNSW. I’ve been involved in several of their events and I am always encouraged by their enthusiasm and interest in the simple tea leaf. Today I believe the society boasts a few hundred members.
All around the world a renewed look at tea, and especially quality leaf tea, is blossoming. Gone are the days when a sad looking teabag is presented on the saucer with a cup of hot water, served by a begrudging waiter. Armed with knowledge due to globalization, the power of the internet and our new smart ways of communicating, the public and particularly the younger generations, want more from their tea and are not scared to look out there for what they want.
The hospitality industry needs to stand up and take a look at this market; tea drinkers are willing to investigate, demand, and pay for quality. Do you honestly think that the large multi-digit figures being paid for tea companies around the world doesn’t say something about the future of tea? But unlike many hotels who offer high teas at exorbitant prices, please don’t think that quantity equates to quality. Offering large quantities of badly chosen cakes and savories to go with tea and then a teabag dangling in a trendy teapot, just doesn’t make the mark. Consider some tea training for your staff, question the choice of cakes you’re offering, and the suitability of presentation. If you get it right your customers will enjoy and quietly comment, between friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and every other form of communication. Get it wrong and someone else will be there to take your customers from you.
Around the world tea loving people are creating new and exciting ways to investigate, learn about, and enjoy their favourite brew. In Los Angeles a Tea Lovers Festival was held in May, with various events throughout the month. A visit to London just wouldn’t seem complete without taking at least one afternoon/high tea at one of a select group of establishments, such as The Ritz, Browns Hotel or Claridges Hotel. If you’re looking to entertain a young gentleman and don’t want all that chintz, check out Sanctum Soho Hotel where they serve a slightly different understanding of high tea. A quick stop in London needs clever ideas and here’s one where you can have your afternoon tea and take in a tour at the same time – take a look at this cleverly converted London double decker bus; “BB Bakery & Afternoon Tea Tour.” Back home in Australia, Sydney is having its first festival dedicated to tea in August 2014; the Sydney Tea Festival; I’m sure it will be a great success and enjoyed by many tea lovers and it could also be a chance for perspective tea establishments to see what they are missing out on.
You can see a little of why I get so excited about young people being involved in this age old and much loved brew, tea.