Current research available at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada predicts a rise of 40 per cent in Canadian tea consumption by 2020. Those are big numbers by any standards. However, more interesting yet is the fact that this prediction applies to premium tea only. Knowledge is power and an educated consumer is the most powerful driving force. No longer will mediocre tea “dust,” commonly sold as Orange Pekoe grade, suffice. Grocery store shelves will see an increase in loose leaf consumption. Tea isles have grown significantly over the last few years and quality will triumph.
The demographic of tea drinkers is amongst the widest in any industry. Younger generations are drawn to tea shops and with that, are exposed to a quality rarely found in grocery stores. Anyone who has made the journey from bad tea to good will tell you that going back is impossible. Middle aged consumers and baby boomers are interested as much in the superior taste as in the health benefits of premium tea and really, for a few cents difference per cup, why wouldn’t consumers pick a far better product?
Restaurants cashing in
Many restaurateurs understand that loose leaf tea is as easy to produce as tea bags and delivers a superior product and dining experience. However, there are still traditionalists that argue it takes longer to produce loose leaf tea than bagged. But does it really? Let’s say it does take longer, perhaps five seconds more, but produces a far better product. The superior product should be reason enough to justify a miniscule investment of time.
The quality aspect is amplified by another: Profit. Restaurants can easily charge premium prices when they serve quality loose leaf tea. In addition, tea sales volumes have been seen to rise as well. Many restaurant owners and managers claim, “we don’t sell much tea,” when referring to their existing tea bag selection. Of course not! If a restaurant were to sell instant coffee instead of coffee made from freshly ground Arabica beans then coffee sales would suffer.
A restaurant that does not serve high-quality tea is going to be as hard to find as one that still has glass coffee pots sitting on the server’s stations, burning away with the tarry stench of three-hour-old coffee.
Whether it is in a boutique store, tea shop, major retailer or restaurant, the message from the consumer is clear: Serve good tea.See also:
About the author
Frank Weber has been consulting restaurants, tea shops and retailers for 15 years. He is the owner of the Toronto-based tea wholesale company Tea Squared. He has long been a source of information, advice and inspiration in the tea industry and has contributed to many educational and tea sommelier programs.