Starting And Opening A Tea Room – Choosing Which Teas to Offer

Starting a tea room, like starting any business, is a complex and involved endeavor. This article focuses on one particular aspect of opening a tea room: choosing which teas to offer. While the decor and ambiance of your tea room and the quality of the food are both of paramount importance, the quality of the tea itself is a critical and often overlooked aspect of starting a successful tea room.

If you are already a tea connoisseur, then you may not even need this article or much more advice on this topic. But if you are a more casual tea drinker, read on: you want your knowledge and expertise in the area of tea to be several steps ahead that of a typical visitor to your tea room, so that you can leave a lasting impression on your customers with the quality of what you offer. A little background  research and sampling of some different varieties of tea can help you to make the best choice of what teas to offer.

Buy top-quality loose-leaf tea:

Tea, even that of very high quality, is relatively inexpensive as food and beverages go. If you’re opening a tea room, the cost of the tea is likely not going to be a limiting factor in starting or operating your business. By contrast, the cost of the food, other supplies, the cost of decorating and setting up your room, and the labor involved in preparation and service is going to be a much larger cost.

It goes without saying that loose-leaf tea is classier and is a must, regardless of whether you are going for a more formal or more casual atmosphere.

One final tip: just because you’re operating a business, you do not need to buy wholesale: in fact, in many cases, for small businesses, it may be better not to. Why? The freshness of your tea is crucial, so you want to buy in small quantities that you will quickly use up. Furthermore, because the cost of the tea is not a limiting factor, you are going to be harmed more by buying a low-quality bulk product than you will be by paying a little more for something sold at retail prices.

British-style? Or worth considering other styles and tea cultures?

Most tea rooms cater to people with British tastes in tea. The tea culture in England focuses on black teas, and the favorites are Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, and some flavored teas, especially the classic Earl Grey, or fruit-flavored black teas, like blackcurrant. Another important black tea, from China, is Keemun, and less common, the smoky Lapsang Souchong. There are a few herbal infusions, such as chamomile (often spelled camomile in the UK) which are also staple offerings of British tea culture, even though they are not true teas.

However, there are other tea traditions which are rich, complex, and diverse, which you may want to explore. China and Japan both produce outstanding green teas, and both China and Taiwan are known for their oolongs, teas that are often described as being somewhere between green and black in their overall qualities. Rooibos, a caffeine-free plant from South Africa, has also become more popular in recent years. Depending on what type of flavor and culture you are looking to emulate or create in your tea room, you may want to branch out with your offerings, exploring some of the other tea cultures and the varieties like green and oolong that they have to offer.

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