Tea Bags Really!


Back in April 2012, while working for The Tea Centre, I put out an article on their E-news letter to start some discussion around teabags and their use in cafes, restaurants and hotels. I asked people out there to comment on whether their local eatery used teabags or loose leaf tea. Even though I’d had this conversation over the counter, with many customers at The Tea Centre shops. It still shocked me when people started to engage and wanted to vent their spleen about the use of teabags in these establishments.

This was recently brought straight back to me; when I visited my local cafe – Poppy’s at the iconic Australian War Memorial in Canberra. This cafe has been a regular haunt of my wife and I; as part of our pleasant weekend walks. It was perfect to take a break and enjoy a pot of loose leaf tea at this cafe. So; when we visited recently after it’s new refurbishment; we were shocked to now be served a pot with a teabag label dangling out. By the way, the teapots have now; had their infusers removed to accommodate the teabag use….. wow!

With the present and dramatic increasing interest in loose leaf, traditional, and blended teas – plus herbal and fruit tisane – you wouldn’t think that these establishments would be reverting back to the bad old days of cheap, nasty, off-the-shelf teabags. With the abundance of quality, imaginative, and downright excellent choice of tea and tisane suppliers out there, isn’t it time that these eateries stepped up and stopped being so narrow minded and lazy when it comes to tea? Can you imagine the shock on customers’ faces if they were presented with a coffee made from instant coffee granuals? They would walk out! Well this analogy is the same – offering a tea drinker a teabag; is no different than offering a coffee drinker an instant coffee. It just shouldn’t be done!

But I don’t want to tar all tea serving establishments with the same lazy brush. I regularly meet, consult to, and visit establishments; that are incredably imaginative, full of foresight and, most of all, understanding of their customers’ desires. It’s great to see a well thought through tea menu or list, and then for your choice to be served corectly is a joy; which will have you returning time and time again.

I would like to say to the owners and operators of eateries everywhere, please take a moment to consider how and what you serve your tea-drinking customers. Does it reflect your establishment? If the answer is “no”, then do something about it – after all you could increase your sales and create a loyal tea-drinking customer base, which surely is why you started the business in the first place. Remember, tea drinkers come in every shape and size, from every age group, demographic, cultural, ethnic and religieous possuation. So, what ever type of establishment you have, you can in some way cater for the tea drinking customers. Ask yourself why Starbucks is no longer known as Starbucks Coffee. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water, with average yearly sales in the ten’s of billions, and a pot of tea generally costs less than a cup of coffee to produce but sells for more. So take that moment to think about how your establishment fits in to this global phenomena.

I would love to hear from everyone who has an opion on this matter, lets start the conversation up again!

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