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Offering Tea To Go

Tea traditionally has been thought of as a beverage to sip slowly and enjoy in a relaxed sitting, but has become quite the fleet-footed dance partner to coffee, its on-the-run hot beverage sibling. By not offering tea-to-go, you might miss out on quick sales and a tempting lure to additional foot traffic.

For many coffee sellers, comfy chairs and trendy tunes give the place its cool ambiance, but it is the take-out traffic that usually keeps the lights on. It's easy to understand why. There are only so many bodies that may comfortably occupy those overstuffed chairs. And each may consume only so many cups. Without the enormous revenue generated by take-out clients, many of these establishments would surely prove unprofitable and need to close.

Whether you realize it or not, your tea business is competing with the coffee chains for all the scarce resources: space, talent and funds. And developing a healthy tea "to-go" business is a good way to increase your chances of success.

Perhaps the simplest way to implement this service it to have a subset of the tea you offer prepared in advance, and dispensed from a hotpot. Some tea shops have had success by offering eight teas selected each day from among the hundreds on offer, and promoted as the "daily brews." These are intended to be primarily for people new to gourmet teas that are likely to be overwhelmed in deciding among the hundreds of teas a tea shop can offer. Choosing one from among eight is a much easier and speedier task.

The "daily brews" option also provides an easy opportunity to dispense samples. Potential customers may easily sample a few varieties, and will surely select one that they enjoy best.

The one problem with this approach is the relatively short shelf-life of the green and white varieties. These tend to lose flavor quickly, and might be best brewed to order. One way around this is to offer just four ready-made teas. Only one of which is green, thus ensuring that tea does not linger in the pot for too long.

It has become common practice to offer tea to-go in paper cups with disposable tea filters holding the loose leaves. The customers are instructed to remove these five minutes later in the case of black teas, and three minutes for green teas. These tend to be people better versed in the world of gourmet tea, with the confidence to venture outside the limits of a basics set. Full-leaf tea sachets (aka pyramid teabags) are also a convenient and popular choice to speed along the process. No measuring or leaf spillage. Just pop a sachet in a paper cup, add hot water and the guest is happily on their way.

If brewing to order, a gravity style teapot like IngenuiTEA is easy to use. You simply need leaves, a timer or two, and hot water access of two temperatures to accommodate the range of teas offered (usually 205°F and 180°F), and/or access to ice cubes to cool the water temp for iced tea or for delicate greens. Add the leaves to the chamber of the IngenuiTEA, add hot water ( a few ice cubes if you need to cool it to green tea friendly temps) and time. Ring up the client and once ready, dispense into a to go cup and send the happy customer back out into the world.

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