The brainchild of entrepreneur Tracey Bovingdon, Tea Monkeys is an eco-friendly, modern café concept with a tea-focused food and beverage offer.
Its first site in Midsummer Place in Milton Keynes offers 40 varieties of loose leaf and bagged tea - for which staff are intensively trained by UK Tea Council consultant Jane Pettigrew – for as little as £1.80 per pot.
It also serves fresh coffee plus an extensive menu including breakfast, lunch and snacking items such as toast, bagels, crumpets, wraps, sandwiches and cupcakes.
Instead of supplying newspapers to guests the venue has eight complimentary iPads connected to the wall, which are loaded with games and music its customers request via the Tea Monkeys website.
Bovingdon, who has financed the concept herself, intends to open a new location every six months, starting with a smaller, takeaway-focused venue in Bath in June. She is also currently looking for sites in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.
In the second half of 2011, Tea Monkeys will also be searching for franchising opportunities through three different models, which will also include a portable “tea pod” for train stations, events and public spaces.
Bovingdon told BigHospitality that the concept, which she claims is a first for Britain, had already received interest from potential franchisees around the UK as well as Lebanon and Dubai.
“England’s a nation of tea drinkers so why isn’t there a chain of tea cafes to rival the likes of Starbucks and Costa?
“At the big coffee chains I get a cheap teabag in a takeaway cup and get charged a premium price – it’s just not good enough. That’s what drove me to say that this can be done a lot better.
“I call Tea Monkeys a space for all – we’ve got colouring stuff and cupcake decorating for children, and we’ve built sustainability into our plan. Everything uses biodegradable packaging, we offer eco cups where customers can get 10 per cent off their drink if they reuse it, and we always source from British and independent suppliers.”
She added: “What we need to do is get a Tea Monkeys into every city and town where there’s a good student culture as well.”