The Adventures of a Tea Trainer by Lucy Chappell
Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage on the planet, besides water.
Here in the UK it is coffee that now dominates the market as our preferred ‘go-to’ hot beverage, or is it? The perceived coffee take-over is patently evident in every town and city throughout the UK, with our high streets and shopping centres all sporting at least five coffee chains plus one or two independents. This wave and that wave of coffee innovation and trends have been and gone and now nitro coffee and cold brew rule. Menus are awash with speciality coffees and take up more than three quarters of menu boards, with tea being squished in the corner with a fleeting mention of ‘English breakfast, earl grey, speciality tea/please ask for more options’…groan!
So, it would be reasonable for you to assume that the daily amount of coffee consumed in the UK trounces tea, and we all know what happens to you and me when we assume. Exactly.
Tea has been the UK’s favourite drink since the 1700’s and it is still very much so. There are 165 million cups of tea supped every day compared to 95 million of coffee.
Ok, I admit that coffee is way more popular away from home but what do you expect when you only give tea a tiny section on the menu? The teapots are chipped, or it’s served in a coffee cup, it’s over brewed, burnt and oh, it’s a just a teabag.
A third of consumers agree that coffee shops do not make an effort where tea is concerned, and this is what puts them off.
Baristas are visually the stars of making a great coffee. We trust them implicitly. There are also fab machines that are shiny and expensive looking so we trust that our cup of coffee is definitely going to taste better than we can make at home. But tea…… well let’s be honest, we are a little bit scared of how our tea will be made so we are much happier making it at home.
This can change and is changing. Consumers are becoming more discerning in their choices and want to see a larger tea menu that includes whole leaf tea (either fully loose or in a mesh pyramid bag) trained staff, innovative crockery, food pairing (that isn’t just cake), ice teas, tea cocktails, tea lattes and the list goes on. With this, tea will become a luxury product once again and prices in shop will rise. For this vision to be realised we must get the basics right, better tea done well. Easy.
This is just the beginning.
- Lucy Chappell is managing director and head of training at the London School of Tea.
- Lucy Chappell will be chairing the two opening sessions of the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo Tea Theatre, which is held in association with National Tea Day. She will also be running a Tea Theatre session every day.