An example of how to serve great tea in a coffee shop:
This example is from Barriques in Madison, WI, at the location on W. Washington, just SW of the capital. This is a great coffee shop (read my review on Yelp). Note my cell phone--yes, I really do time my steepings when I write reviews.
This setup is great. What are the ingredients?
- Top-notch loose tea - in this case, Rishi Tea. The pictured cup above is an Iron Goddess of Mercy (medium roasted) from Nantou, Taiwan; Barriques has quite a selection of Rishi, I might add.
- Use of a basket infuser - leaves room for the leaves to expand rather than a teaball or other constraining tea infuser.
- Serving of the tea in a separate vessel - in this case, a glass teapot, which is given to you after you order the tea. This allows you to control brewing to taste. Barriques is generous with the leaf, allowing you to make multiple infusions.
- This setup is sustainable - not only is Rishi Tea a leader in sustainability among tea companies, so the tea itself is an excellent sustainable choice, but note the absence of anything disposable. The only thing missing in the case of Barriques is that they do not compost their tea.
Can we encourage more Coffee Shops to do this?
Yes. The key ingredient here is to let coffee shop owners (which includes both individual owners of independent coffee shops, and the management of chain coffee shops) that it's realistic to serve loose tea in coffee shops. A few key points are to let them know:
- It's already being done successfully.
- The quality of the resulting cup of tea tea allows you to charge more (covering the cost of the additional labor in serving the tea and washing the dishes) and still have a happier customer.
- Loose tea can be very inexpensive which can increase the profit margin and offset any additional labor costs.
- Although loose tea takes longer to prepare, it's still negligible in comparison to many of the more involved espresso drinks.
- Using loose tea means you stock loose tea, and can sell it--expanding into a new niche (being a tea shop), which can bring in additional business.
- Basket infusers + disposable paper tea filters give optimal "for here" and "to go" options.
- Serving high-quality loose tea in teapots bumps your shop up a notch or two in sophistication, which can have indirect positive effects on the rest of your business.