Tea Industry Influencers Talk Traditions that Capture Customers

World Tea News asked tea industry influencers: What traditions continue to capture customers?

Here are their responses.

High tech tea brewing continues to allure, but nothing replaces artisan, hand-brewed service. The increasing ubiquity of slow bars in fine cafes gives a perfect "in" for slow bar tea. And I think the two can co-exist in harmony. There's been enough This vs That in the beverage world when it comes to technology and tradition. They should inform each other and enable each other to evolve and co-exist. They often serve entirely different customer bases - why should one replace the other, when we have so many different types of customers?

—Suzette Hammond Founder of Being Tea, tea trainer and consultant

This is an opportunity for growth in the tea market. Tea traditions are well established in many countries from India and China to the Mid-East to England and Europe. Not so in the US. We have a strong morning coffee tradition, but not a corresponding place for tea. The closest tradition we have on which we can capitalize is our great thirst for iced teas.

—Tim Smith Owner of The Tea Smith

At the high end, we are seeing the traditions of premium tea combining with the convenience of modern lifestyles. People don’t want to compromise completely on quality for convenience. With the increasingly global availability of premium teas, western consumers can now enjoy a closer connection than ever before to the origin of the tea leaf.

—Maria Uspenski Founder and CEO of The Tea Spot, author of Cancer Hates Tea

Talking one-on-one about tea with interested consumers at tea festivals, inside retail outlets and especially tableside within restaurants. Keep brewing, talking – lather, rinse, repeat.

—Brian Keating Blend Master & Founder of Sage Group

In the U.S., the Southern tradition of iced tea has grown and is strong in most states. For hot tea, there seems to be stability and a broad reach across demographics for holiday parties, ceremonies and events. We can also include gift-giving. Retailers who develop gift sets with tea and teaware as well as those who create in-house events seem to do better than those who simply maintain a tea menu.

—Babette Donaldson President of the International Tea Sipper’s Society, author, tea educator