Michelin starred restaurants and five star hotels generally set the bar when it comes to fine dining. In recent years, this commitment to the exceptional has extended beyond food and wine, to encompass everything from the start of the meal to the end so a selection of premium quality teas is now a must have.
Diners’ expectations are higher than ever, which means restaurants have to deliver when it comes to offering the best. We regularly create tea bespoke tea menus for a host of our clients - from a boutique hotel in Paris requesting teas to pair with a range of patisserie to a group of five star hotels seeking advice on a rare and seasonal tea menu. The demand for knowledge around sourcing, origin and taste profile, is on the increase and all add to the tea-drinking experience.
For those looking to enhance their guests’ experience, here are some top tips to creating the perfect tea menu:
1. Keep it short.
The variety of teas is immense but keep a simple tea list with three or four permanent teas and rotate some seasonal or special teas every few months to keep it fresh.
2. Create the right balance.
Green and herbal teas are driving the move away from traditional black tea served with milk, but you still need to keep some traditional options for customers. We suggest the following selection: Assam Breakfast, Earl Grey, Green, Premium Green, Oolong or other speciality and two different types of herbal teas.
3. Offer teas at different price points.
Maximise the margin made on each type of tea and guide customer interest towards premium, rare and seasonal teas. In a five-star hotel context, pricing ranging from £5 per cup for an excellent daily drinking green tea to £15 for a special oolong such as Wuyi Big Red Robe offers plenty of opportunity for upsell and higher margins.
4. Encourage experimentation.
Create a menu that gives people an opportunity to try an amazing example of a comforting classic and then take the steps to explore the world of tea. Usually this is through flavours that people already understand such as floral, grassy, smoky or woody.
5. Make it seasonal.
At an establishment where tea is understood and where guests are open to trying more refined flavours, offer a short tea menu of seasonal specials that really reflect the tea origins and seasons. This might mean adding refreshing spring Chinese green teas in April and May, or warming roasted oolongs from Taiwan’s winter crop in October/November, where the taste profile of the tea matches the seasonal climate.
6. Water quality.
Give the option of making premium teas with mineral water for a surcharge. Highlight what temperature each tea is made at and how this affects the flavour profile of certain teas.
7. Train staff to promote your offering.
There is little point simply asking the customer what tea they want as the answer will most likely be something simple such as 'breakfast or green tea'. To encourage them to try one of your carefully selected teas, either train waiting staff to talk through the options or always present the menu before taking the order.