Josh and I were chin wagging one day and he had me rolling on the floor laughing my socks off when he mentioned that tea is coffee’s ugly cousin. He is right of course: many retailers do not think there is a market for tea and I have been invited to write to you today to challenge that notion. Let me explain.

I don’t know if you know cafés and restaurants owners reading this, but if customers spot that box of square tea bags sitting behind the counter, they would rather order a coffee, a hot chocolate or bottled water.  So you see, it’s not that there isn’t a demand for tea it’s just that they’d rather do without if the qualiTEA isn’t available.

When you pay for a coffee, you get a smiling Batista who lovingly grinds the coffee beans; pops the grind into the basket and with a gentle levelling with the tamper, the basket is placed into the coffee machine, with a pre-warmed coffee cup taken from the top of the machine to capture that perfect extraction. The steam wand makes a soothing whirring sound as the barista slowly brings the milk to the correct temperature and is beauTEAfully poured into the cup at an angle to create a heart, a fern or some other latte art beauTEA. There is so much love, care and attention in mayking the coffee and the baristas stands proudly with a beaming smile as he or she presents you with his/her piece of art in a coffee cup.

What happens when you order a tea? A tea bag is shoved into a cup, hot water is hastily added, wam bam thank you mam and then you’re charged $3-4 for the privilege! As Black Eyed Peas would say ‘Where Is The Love?‘  How about the warming of my cup? How about serving my tea at the right temperature? A frequent excuse I hear from restaurant/cafe owners is the hassle in cleaning up the tea leaves, but if you think about how many pieces of equipment the coffee grind needs to be cleaned from, compared to that of tea (i.e. the tea cup and the teapot), it’s really not that many is it?

Remember the days when Instant coffee was the only offering, say 10-15 years ago? And look at where we are now with the many varieTEAs of coffee beans, coffee types and coffee-mayking techniques (love the pour over and the odd cold press). Australia’s love for tea has been forgotten, temporarily taken over by the Venti quad shot, 1 pump Vanilla, 2 sugar in the raw, soy, non-fat, extra dry cappuccino, but coffee and tea can exist alongside each other, and there are a growing number of places that do it well in Australia.


Memorable Customer Experience at Rush Bar Dining Express, Brisbane CBD

Still not convinced? Starbucks has acquired two tea companies in the past; Oprah Winfrey has released her version of a chai; Coca-Cola have their version of iced tea in the US market and here in Australia, T2 was bought by Unilever and has plans for global expansion for the Melbourne based company.   And Heston Blumenthal is also waking up to the tea leaves by endorsing a temperature controlled kettle.

So y’see things are changing in Australia, ever so slowly: cup by cup. My mission is to have a better cup of tea in everybody’s cupboard and if cafés and restaurants join with me in my TEAvolution, they’ll not only have #tea lovers coming out of the woodwork, but it will add to their bottom line if they train their staff and get them excited about this 4000 year old product and serve it properly.  Tea might be coffee’s ugly cousin, but it doesn’t have to be and if you want to find out more why not send me a TEAmail? Thank you for listening.

May King Tsang is founder of MayKing Tea and co-founder of the Australasian Specialty Tea Association.


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