It’s Tea Time

April 10, 2013: Tea

Spring is here, summer is close behind and, if you’re a restaurateur, coffeehouse owner or food vendor looking to boost sales, it’s time to get creative with tea. It’s no secret how profitable beverages can be, and right now, tea is one of the hottest (and coldest) around.

According to research firm Datassential’s MenuTrends, in 2012 some 74 percent of restaurants that sold beverages had iced tea on the menu, making tea second only to soda in popularity. Hot tea was also popular, sold by 63 percent of the restaurants that sold beverages.

The Tea Association of the USA reports tea purchases have been rising for 20 years. Supermarket sales of tea now top $2.2 billion annually, and out-of-home tea consumption has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the past decade. Statistics show that while coffee drinking is down, tea drinking is on the upswing.

Why the sudden surge in tea? One reason, Nation’s Restaurant News notes, is that tea benefits from a “halo of health.” Customers who are cutting back on caffeine prefer tea to coffee, and new research suggests tea can prevent heart disease, burn calories and even prevent some types of cancer.

Of course, there are as many ways to serve up tea (not all of them healthy) as there are flavors of fruit or types of alcohol. Depending on your interest level and the focus of your business, profiting from tea could mean adding superfood-based teas to your coffeehouse menu, mixing tea with lemonade (another trendy beverage) to stir up an Arnold Palmer at your fast-casual restaurant, or mixing up tea-based cocktails at your bar. (This Nation’s Restaurant News article points out the many ways tea is being used as a drinks mixer.)