How to Sell Brewed Loose Tea
Tea bags are convenient; this is very true. If you sell only by the single serving then tea bags are the way to go. Tea bags are very easy to clean up as compared to loose teas and their infusers. However, there are drawbacks to single servings that you should consider. First among them is the “Wringer.” These are customers that will re-steep the same tea bag two, three or even four times until all of the flavor is “wringed out” of the leaves. The first problem is that the server or counter person has to be available to refill or top off the cup several times. This potentially diverts your attention away from attending to new customers that are waiting. The second, and more important problem is that you have made a sale for only one cup but invested your time and attention for more.
A better option is to also sell tea by the teapot and market it as “tea-for-two.” Teapots with infusers can be a very inexpensive investment, as low as $8.00 – $12.00 per pot depending on the size (26 fl. oz or 4 teacups OR 42 fl. oz. or 7 teacups). The one on the left is an example. It not only has an infuser but it is French-press style. This helps to wring out all the flavor of the loose tea within.
Selling tea as tea-for-two has several real benefits. The benefits are, (1) tea-for-two allows you to charge for at least 4 to 7 cups not just one; (2) the pot will inherently stay warmer longer than a cup because it has a larger volume to surface area than a single cup; (3) the server is not busy refilling gratis portions; (4) you can vastly expand on the kinds of teas and blends that you can offer because the vast majority of teas available are loose; (5) furthermore ounce for ounce the exact same tea is cheaper bought loose than pre-bagged and (6) loose tea is more environmentally friendly than bags. The main drawback is that the infuser must be emptied into the trash or recycling bin and then the pot and infuser has to be cleaned. But, if you use an electric dishwasher this becomes a much easier proposition.
For the retailer we have loose tea in silvered tins. We can package in 8 fl. oz. tins and in 16 fl. oz. tins. The smaller tin can hold between 0.75 ozs. and 2.5 ozs. of loose tea depending in the bulk density of the particular tea. The larger tins can hold between 1.6 ozs. and 6.0 ozs. The tin’s cap has a pliable interior plastic ring to ensure a seal so that freshness is protected. The cap is shrink wrapped to prevent tampering.
Most of what we call “tea” comes from a single species namely “Camellia sinensis.” Types of teas from this plant differ either by the region of the world in which they are grown, the method of processing or both. Generally, there is a two step process in making tea. After being picked the first step is to allowed the tea to wilt and oxidize; this is followed by a second heating (drying) step. Sometimes the leaves are rolled prior to the oxidation step. Natural enzymes in teas leave left to wither in storage causes oxidation and heating deactivates the enzyme effectively halting oxidation. Teas from this plant all contain caffeine and must undergo a decaffeination process if “caffeine-free tea” is the desired result. Chai tea is a variant of tea where spices are added to impart additional dimensions of flavor. The variations are almost as broad at the number of herbs and spices available. As an unintended consequence other properties, often considered healthful, are imparted to the tea from the spices that are added. Other “teas” such as Rooibos (aka Red Bush), chamomile, mint, lemongrass, Yerba maté or dandelion come from various other plant sources. These are also considered “teas” simply because they are steeped for their flavor components in hot or boiling water.
We stock an assortment of loose teas from various places around the world. We carry teas from Africa, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), India, China, and Indonesia. Our teas are sold in 2 lb. quad-sealed re-sealable foil bags and the minimum order is 1 lb. of any one kind of tea. We hope that you will find our selection of teas to be perfect for you restaurant, tea room or café. We carry the following kinds of teas:
- Black Tea
- Green Tea
- Oolong Tea
- White Tea
- Rooibos Tea
- Flavored & Herbal Teas
Black Tea- sometimes called “red tea” is the most flavor-robust form of tea. It is made by allowing harvested tea leaves to nearly fully or fully oxidize which develops the full-bodied flavor that we commonly find in a typical tea. Unlike some of the other teas black tea retains its flavor for a very long time if stored properly. Brews from black teas are often reddish sienna to dark brown in color.
Oolong Tea- sometimes referred to as “black dragon” tea, oolong is somewhat less oxidized than black tea. The mature tea leaves used to make it are bruised as part of the process. Oxidation of Oolong tea varies but is generally somewhere between 10% to 80%. Also, specific cultivars of Camellia sinensis are used to make oolong. The process used to make this type of tea can vary widely and be intricate depending on the desired flavor profile. That being the case, the flavor of oolong tea can range from “green” to sweet and fruity to fuller bodied.
Green Tea- a more recently popularized tea, green tea is favored by many for its claimed health benefit such as antioxidant properties. It is an unwilted and unoxidized form of tea. After picking the tea leave are heat treated to arrest the natural oxidation process. As a result green tea has a lot of antioxidants. Light in flavor, as compared to black or oolong, it is best described as being vegetal. Brews from green teas are a straw to pale yellow in color but can be green like in some Japanese green teas. Unlike black tea, green tea is very sensitive to aging. This results in a shelf life of about 6 months. It can be extended if it is kept in a cool dark place and the container sealed from moisture.
White Tea- is the least processed tea sold. Made from young white-downy buds it is not allowed to oxidize but is immediately heat treated by immediate sun drying or by steaming or firing and then drying. White tea is never rolled. It has a pale yellow color with a lightly vegetal flavor. White tea contains an equally high amount of antioxidants as green tea. White tea probably contains the widest array of antioxidants depending on how it is processed and for how long. There are many other health benefits that are claimed for white tea with some having marginal support from scientific studies. Its popularity in the United States has been growing.
Rooibos Tea- comes from the Calicotome villosa plant. It radically departs from common tea. Native to Southern Africa, it is naturally caffeine-free and contains antioxidants and vitamin C. It also lacks the tannins found in green, oolong and black teas. Rooibos is generally also oxidized which produces its characteristic reddish-brown color. Rooibos is more sweet because of its lack of tannins and has been described as being mildly fruity.