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How to Choose the Right Tea for Your Cafe or Restaurant

John ShoopYou serve a great Cup of Joe (ours!) at your establishment, but if you aren’t selling tea, too, you may be overlooking a major customer segment. On any given day, over half of the American population drinks tea, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.

Tea’s popularity is growing steadily – which may be due in part to its known health benefits. We find that consumers are developing an appreciation for unique, flavorful premium teas.

Are you considering adding tea to your menu? John Shoop, our Richmond and Central Virginia Regional Sales Manager, has some great advice for you.

Q: What kinds of things should a business owner consider before adding tea to the menu?
Shoop: “First of all, it’s important to identify the types of customers who visit your establishment. Some customers are attracted to the ritual and luxury of tea, while others are very interested in its health benefits. Choose products that complement your brand. Organic products make the most sense for some places, while a beautiful box of premium teas would be more appropriate for a high-end restaurant, for example.

Tea recommendationSecondly, think about how you will be serving the tea. Know that tea is packaged in many forms: bottled, sachets, loose leaf, organic, flavored, hot, iced, single-cup serving and bulk 3.5-gallon. You will also need filters for brewing loose leaf tea.

In general, my recommendation is to offer a variety of hot and cold teas. You will want to have an herbal, a black, a green, and an oolong. These varieties can be offered in a traditional or flavored selection. I usually recommend loose leaf and premium tea bags.

Lastly, think outside the box (pun intended!) and find ways to capitalize on and promote your teas. Consider creating unique recipes or adding small gift boxes with tissue paper and shopping bags to generate even more sales. Some of my clients have found that their customers really love the experience of choosing tea from a selection in a pretty box.”

Tea facts

Q: In general, which SPECIFIC teas do you recommend?
Shoop: “I have several restaurant accounts, and the hot teas my clients have found the greatest amount of success serving are English Breakfast, Chamomile, Organic Jasmine Green, Hot Cinnamon Spice, Organic Earl Grey, Organic Peppermint, Organic Gunpowder Green and Organic Moroccan Mint.”

Orinoco Coffee & Tea’s Plain Iced Tea and Peached Iced Tea work really well year round, as well as Harney & Son’s Tropical Green, Passion Fruit and Plain Pekoe Supreme teas. All these products are, of course, offered by Orinoco Coffee & Tea.

The same list applies for my coffee shop and retail customers if it makes sense for their customer base – although I suggest switching iced teas Passion Fruit and Pekoe for Irish Breakfast (hot) and Red Raspberry (iced). Lastly, our Rooibos Chai hot tea is a very popular product, and our ready-to-drink teas are really gaining in popularity, too!”

Q: What type of equipment is needed to brew hot and cold teas? 
Shoop: “The great news is you don’t need a lot of counter space if you decide to offer iced tea. You will need an iced tea brewer – Bunn equipment works great. It makes it easy to mix the appropriate amount of cold dilution water and accounts for steeping time as well as the quantity of hot water needed. For hot brewing, the hot water spout on coffee equipment can serve as your hot water supply.”

Diversify your menu and serve tea! It’s a unique and varied product line that can help you grow your business.

Ready to get started? Contact us. We’re ready to help.

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