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Recommendation

Devising a Tea Menu

by Cynthia Fazekas

Fill your tea menu with a balanced selection

We often get questions about how to select teas for your offering. Whether a café or a tea retailer, the approach can be similar. Decide how many teas you wish to offer. This can be based on space constraints for storage or display as well as how many your staffer can feasibly handle. Regardless of how many teas you decide to offer, you will want to represent a couple teas from each tea category to present a balanced assortment. Some basics below:

Most tea menus will include an Earl Grey as it is a well-known tea and a quality measure for new clients. Additionally, having a breakfast tea will serve the same purpose but without added flavors for those who prefer a straight up tea that they can have with creamer and sweetener. You can build onto these basics with single origin black teas such as a full-leaf Ceylon OP or classic Fujian Golden Monkey.

Flavored black teas offer familiar flavors in a familiar tea type for the mainstream consumer and those just looking for something fun. Perennial bestsellers are something fruity like Mango Black tea and something decadent like Caramel Black tea. Vanilla is also a crowd pleaser.

In today’s tea landscape you cannot get by without a green tea or two for the health savvy customer. Now widely accepted by mainstream consumers, offer at least one flavored green and perhaps one traditional, non-flavored such as Gunpowder or Genmaicha. You can always level up to the more exotic and esoteric such as Dragonwell or Gyokuro as your clients come to trust you for their green tea fix.

Matcha – with its healthy reputation and ease of use, this popular green tea powder is something to be seriously considered. It can also be used in baked goods if you are a tea room with a tantalizing dessert menu. Powdered teas can be messy to work with but the matcha trend is still gong strong!

White teas are also much more popular than in years past. Offer something easy to understand such as White Blueberry or Peach and maybe something high-end and exquisite such as Jasmine Silver Needle to impress.

Herbal blends, also called tisanes, are a must have. They are usually caffeine-free (but not always!) and offer health benefits of their own. You can go with traditional pure herbs such as chamomile or peppermint or see if your vendor has a blend of these to appeal to a variety of needs. Hibiscus and fruit blends are very popular and make wonderful iced teas. Choose one or two to compliment a food menu or to take advantage of current ‘super fruit’ trends.

Speaking of herbals, you might consider including a rooibos or honeybush blend, as they are so easy to brew and also offer a caffeine-free option for those who abstain as well as for children. Fruity or nutty flavors abound, so balance out your menu with these offerings.

While oolong teas, might be a little less well known, they offer the beauty that lies between green and black teas. They range from being closer to black teas in richness to being light bodied and beautifully delicate and floral. Captivate your customer with a flavored version and something pure, to entice the adventurer. Adagio’s Peach Oolong is lovely hot but iced is a smooth, tasty crowd pleasure and a wonderful gateway to the beauty of oolong teas.

Pu erh teas are probably the most esoteric but have become better known in the past few years. A flavored option might be nice to test willingness among your clientele, and see if you get requests for the pure, rich earthy ones over time.

Seasonal blends are a great way to keep your menu fresh and have an answer for the persistent client question: "What's new?" Pumpkin Spice, Spiced Apple Chai for autumn and teas like Watermelon Cooler and White Fuzzy Navel make great summery iced teas. You should consider having a couple teas that change fairly often for something new!

Lastly, consider a wellness tea or two not covered by your herbal section. Special 'medicinal' blends like Throat Therapy or Happy Belly will draw your customer to you in their time of need!