The must-have beverage knows no demographic or daypart bounds.
According to the U.S. Tea Association, more than half of the U.S. population drinks tea each day. Tea is one of the only beverages that is consumed hot or cold, in any daypart, by consumers across demographics. Whether that’s a Gen Zer enjoying a tea-infused mocktail, a baby boomer sipping sweet tea, or a millennial downing a spiked Arnold Palmer, everyone loves different takes on the classic beverage. In fact, the U.S. Tea Association also reports that 87 percent of millennials regularly drink tea.
Rather surprisingly, then, not every full-service restaurant menu offers tea in some form or fashion, and most could do a better job marketing their tea offerings. Experts suggest seasonal tea options and LTOs that help create a memorable experience for diners and high margins for operators—think a strawberry basil iced tea during the summer or a lavender vanilla bean tea during the fall or winter.
“One of the things we always tell our clients is to make sure their servers are offering tea—a hot tea for breakfast, or iced tea for lunch—when they first approach a table,” says Emily Wood Bowron, assistant vice president of strategic marketing at Red Diamond Coffee and Tea. “If you can train staff to upsell and get consumers to try tea, it might just be an extra dollar or two, but over time that’s going to have a huge impact on the bottom line.”
For restaurants already serving and pushing tea, a great way to differentiate offerings from those of competitors is to use and promote quality products. Diners are looking for something exceptional from restaurants. They expect their favorite dining establishments to be paying attention to even the smallest details, and a beverage program is a large part of that perception.
“Consumers are becoming more discerning about what they’re putting into their bodies, and that goes for beverages, too,” Bowron says. “It’s not just health-based, though that’s a large component, it’s also about: How good does it taste? Is it fresh? Is it memorable? Operators shouldn’t sacrifice on quality and flavor, especially when tea already has high margins to begin with.”
Menu call outs for brands like Red Diamond speak to quality, says Bowron, pointing to the company’s product serving as a consistent base layer for the different trendy applications being used across the industry.
“Our tea is globally sourced,” Bowron says. “That means it has great flavor regardless of what time of year it is. On top of that, as a company that’s been doing this for 114 years, the quality that we source is unparalleled. Whereas some other brands have tea that has stem and dust in it, we work diligently to make sure ours doesn’t, and the result is a rich, flavorful tea that is versatile across applications.”