Tuesday, 24 August 2010

tea conversion the other direction

Just read something on Alex Zorach's Tea Blog that got me thinking. It was about convincing coffee shops to sell loose-leaf tea. I've written about converting non-tea drinkers to tea, but never thought about this sort of conversion.

Although in Germany the northerners are far more associated with tea, you can find coffee shops that sell loose-leaf tea here in southern Germany. Not many, but they do exist.

Often the wifi is a bigger consideration than whether they have decent tea, but that depends entirely on whether I'm there to get some work done or primarily for the tea.

What I've never considered doing is explaining to a coffee shop owner the potential benefits of branching into tea. Often when I ask about tea in a coffee shop or restaurant, they assure me they have it. Then they point at the cheapest supermarket tea bags that sell for little more than a euro per box. I just can't accept paying a few euros for the miserable cup of tea that comes from one of those bags. Horrid taste+exorbitant price=miserable experience.

But the oasis that would be loose-leaf tea in the exact same situation is worth contemplating.

Thanks Alex (you can see a link to his blog in the 'blogs you might consider' section in the right hand column here).


  1. I think I am not fanatical enough (or I have bad tastes :P) but even if I know it will be bag tea, I still order it as this way I share something with my coffee drinker friends and colleagues.

  2. I'm all for converting anybody to tea! In a coffee shop I'd worry a little about the more delicate tea being overpowered by the strong aroma of coffee. Every time the store keeper opens a tin of tea, those powerful wafts of coffee will invade the container!

    I'd also find it hard to sniff my fine tea (as I'm deciding what to buy) when there is coffee everywhere.

    Having said that; do you mean coffee shop as in a store to buy coffee to take home, or do you mean a sit-down cafe?
    Here's to tea ;)

  3. That's indeed a good way of conversion! Once I read from American Tea Association website that they claim a vendor has much larger profit margin selling tea than coffee. They actually mean selling cheap teabags. But I believe there can be a balance found between the tea quality, price and vendor's fair profit.

  4. I owned a shop that had 48 coffees and 164 yeas, and 68 herbs.
    You could detect every aroma individually.
    Funnily enough, the only time anyone ever complained it was if someone nearby was drinking Lapsang Souchong

  5. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed this post!

    I think the move to loose tea is important, not just for quality but also for sustainability reasons. And I think quality is related to sustainability too...generally low-quality goods are not particularly sustainable, whereas single-region loose teas preserve and promote local cultures and traditions.

    And part of it...I just think it's a general "upgrade"...it's like selling muffins that are freshly baked, on-site, instead of packaged ones baked in some factory and shipped miles to their final destination.

    In this spirit, I think loose tea can be part of the slow food movement as well.