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“Tea & Speciality Tea”
Or: How To Write A Rubbish Tea Menu

For the last few years the tea industry has been obsessed with getting you to list as many blends as possible. “Black tea is dead, fruit and herbs are the future” is the cry.


An awesome set up

Remnants of partially torn boxes and long forgotten mixed boxes of the latest herbs and fruits litter the foodservice industry, taking up space and moving slower than a snail going backwards.

Let’s be clear, the future isn’t herbal or fruity - the future is all about creating awesome tea experiences and doing things properly. But that’s not the point this week.

Our point is that for all the misguided advice from the world’s biggest tea companies we’re almost certain that you didn’t give these blends a fair shot at being popular and taking your drinkers by storm.


We’ve spoken to enough of you to know the effort you put into sourcing - from the vegetables to meat and of course the artisan San Francisco sourdough to accommodate everything. All this to make awesome sandwiches which keep folks coming back.

That’s why you’ve never passed this story to your marketing team and had them knock you up a menu saying:

“Sandwiches & Speciality Sandwiches {please ask for range}”

Our point is that you’d proudly list them out and your customers would respond by choosing from a genuine selection on offer.

But with tea, almost every place we’ve ever visited uses the line “Tea & Speciality Tea - please ask.” It’s uninspiring at best, lazy at worst. Why should drinkers get excited when you’re not?


We’ve spent ages wondering about why this menu line crops up time and time again and we always come back to the same answer.

Coffee shops, offices, planes, garden centres - anywhere serving hot drinks in fact - typically show excitement at the coffee they’ve chosen by sampling, tasting, training and integrating the offer into the wider business plan and telling the story after they open.


“Well sh*! it’s 3 days ‘til we launch, we better get something - call Brakes, nip to the Co-op - just get a normal one and some fruity ones”.

There you have it. It’s not important and so you’re lead by what folks buy to drink at home - which is different to how they choose a cup of tea out and about. Here starts the spiral of doom.


When you actually look at your sales mix this really starts to hit home. Aside from extremely speciality coffee shops most venues will actually serve more tea than coffee {go ahead, check your EPOS data} - so why not take it seriously?

You didn’t proactively choose your blends to suite your offer.

You didn’t match your tea supplier values to your own.

You didn’t devote the amount of menu space to tea based on expected sales.

It’s a wonder people buy tea at all.


A favourite line of ours. There is a really good chance that you’re not reading this as the proud owner of a speciality tea store - we don’t supply any. As such you shouldn’t feel the need to act like one.

Take your values, your positioning and imagine how you want your drinkers to feel and stock teas that are relevant. Pubs don’t need Chamomile & Liquorice, Garden Centres don’t really need Matcha, stadiums don’t need three fruit options for half time.

All we ask is that you think about it - would you really hold it against the your local fish ‘n’ chip shop if they didn’t do sushi? It is fish after all…


A proper menu

We’ll end on a positive.

When you have chosen your supplier and your blends then please, please write them out on your menu. No cryptic guessing games, no wicker baskets full of tea that look to be stolen from local hotels, just a cracking menu outlining your blends and why you chose them.

Hopefully it’s from a fantastic company with a great story to match your own and it’ll really engage your drinkers with what you offer.

You’re well on your way to the Holy Grail - “let’s go there, the tea is great.”

The Brew Times

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