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Tea in hospitality: On rising trends, maximising profits and inspiring innovation

Speciality and loose leaf teas are on the rise. In hospitality, reports have shown that tea is now a leading category in hot beverages - occasion for tea saw doubled growth in 2016. Since the announcement that corporates in the city of London are banning alcohol as entertainment, restaurants are looking to tea as a new way to drive profits through beverages.

Our Head of Hospitality, Felicity Fowler, has noticed an increased demand for innovation, especially with tea and food pairing, with opportunity for consultation with our 80+ Michelin-starred restaurants and 5* hotels keeping our teams very busy in 2017.

In his predictions for food trends 2017, our partner Richard Ekkebus, Culinary Director at Mandarin Oriental reported:

“The importance of tea in gastronomy will increase not only as the perfect non-alcoholic option, but the tea ceremony along with the storytelling part of tea is what captivates me: the various tea families and amazing single origins that come on the market in small batches. “

Felicity explains "With a tough outlook in hospitality due to food inflation rates, challenges of staff turnover and unpredictable guest occupancy, it's now more important than ever to create an exceptional tea program that guests enjoy, are happy to pay for, and that attracts new customers to your venue".

On that note, here are 5 tips to create a tea program worth paying more for while controlling your costs to maximise profits:

Choose the right loose leaf tea

Teabags are great for hotel rooms or for a cuppa at home but, in hospitality, serving loose leaf tea not only allows you to control your costs but gives you access to a much wider choice of teas. When choosing your teas, don't be afraid to taste them blind vs competition, the flavours should sing and teas from great terroir should have complex character. Choose teas with a known provenance that will differentiate you from the high street and guests would be willing to pay for.

Make the tea precisely with one-cup brewing

Large teapots might sound appealing but in fact, you're spoiling the tea and wasting tea leaves. The leaves over-steep in the water, bringing out all the bitter and astringent notes from the tea, the water cools down quickly and much of the tea gets wasted. Instead, weighing your tea, using one-cup brewing methods, and following recipes carefully, saves you money and guarantees a delicious cup for your guest every time.

That’s more, with high quality, whole leaf teas, you can re-infuse your tea leaves multiple times meaning you still get your large quantities of tea but all are perfectly made and delicious in taste.

Plan your tea menu wisely

Green and herbal teas are driving the move away from traditional black teas with milk, but you still need to keep some traditional options for customers. Offer teas at different price points and guide customers toward rare, premium and seasonal teas. A tea menu for Middle Eastern or Chinese guests might differ considerably so make sure your menu is adapted to your clientele to deliver them the best possible experience.

Learn how to sell tea

You should expect your tea partner to train your staff not only to make tea well but also to understand the basics of how to recommend tea for their guest and upsell teas that they will enjoy and want to try again. Train staff to promote your offering and help the customer appreciate the tea experience that little bit more.

Serve the tea beautifully

Tea is usually served at breakfast, at the end of a meal, or as the centre piece of an afternoon tea, so getting it right can leave a lasting impression. Using glass teaware to see the leaves unfurl, or a tray on which to display the teaware, creates that beautiful "instagram moment". Serving the tea in the brewing vessel with a sand timer and instructions for your guest to decant the tea, creates a memorable experience for the them, and even saves time on service for your back-of-house team.

These 5 tips are the basics of ensuring you have a solid tea program. One other way of maximising your profits from tea is in creating innovative exciting experiences. Tea and food pairing menus can be a wonderful alternative to wine and tea – with our partner Club Gascon enjoying a 400% increase in tea sales* since developing their tea menu - and tea is being used more and more in mixology where smoky and subtle floral notes underpin exceptional cocktail menus. By creating seasonal menus or events, you become a destination and attract external guests and generate interest for your venue.

The above list might feel daunting. However, with our experience and knowledge, we can support you by consulting on tea ranges and menus, training staff back and front of house, and providing teaware, helping you to create an exceptional experience that your guests are happy to pay more for, while you control your costs.

Get in touch with our team at

Written by: Sally Gurteen, Master Storyteller at JING

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