How To Date Your Customer To Grow A Tea Business

With today’s technology it’s not that difficult to gain visitors to your tea business, whether it’s online shop or a physical store. It’s easy to spend money on ads using Google, participate on social media or offer great coupon deals on sites such as Groupon. What most tea start-ups struggle with the most is how they grow their business. The secret that we want to reveal in this article is that most fast growing businesses successfully apply insights from dating someone to their business.

When it comes to growing your tea business, the concept is behind it is fairly simple. It relies on two simple factors.

1. The % of store visitors will buy your product, and;

2. The % of your customers will come back and buy again.

The only way to influence these factors to work your way up to success is by offering something that your customer will love. It’s something that they are passionate about, and when you achieve that, they are unconditionally wanting it to be successful. If you get that right, the rest will take care of itself. The reality is that nobody ever gets it right the first time, even if you spends a lot of time preparing your tea offerings. Great businesses listen to customers and continuously improve their product (or services) to make it great.

In this blog post we will talk about the first factor that we listed above ” The % of store visitors will buy your product.” To make this happen, you have to treat your customers if you are dating them. With this in mind, you’re going to have to create a great first impression and find ways to make first impression things memorable.

The First Impression

When it comes to dating, the first impression matters and this is something that also holds for companies. We humans are ‘relationship-manufacturing’ creatures. Whether it’s the car you drive, clothes we buy, or even the cup of tea we drink, if it’s something you love, you feel a ‘personal’ connection with it. If you are a tea business owner, then ask yourself how you can create that first connection when presenting your tea product? The number one important factor is to make it memorable, which we discuss in the next paragraph.

Make Things Memorable

When trying to uncover opportunities that people will remember, consider the below list of ideas:

Store Impressions: Pick A Venue

When you date, you have to pick the right venue. Assume your tea store or website is that venue and ask yourself: How does it feel when a tea enthusiast enters my store for the first time? If you have a physical store, make sure you get the interior design right. If you have an online store, invest in great web-design that is user-friendly. To make it memorable, it has to be remarkable.

Packaging: Dress To Impress

It’s not only the store design or quality of the tea that matter. We tea sippers are emotional people. Not only does the tea itself has to be good, but also the whole experience around it. Like you dress up for a date, you need to offer good looking packaging for your product. Is the packaging of the tea a pleasure to look at? Does the packaging tell you stories about the tea? Is it easy to open and close? How is the appearance of the tea? How does it smell? These things all matter.

Ask For Feedback

How can I make my customer remember the tea he/she tastes? It’s safe to assume that the majority of your customers have tried many different kinds of tea in their lives. It doesn’t matter how much we love tea, our brains have limitations: we simply can’t remember all the great teas that we tried in the past. To make your teas memorable, ask your customer questions to make them actively about how they feel about your tea. Whether this is during free tasting sessions in a physical store or while you engage with customers on social media, it will make them remember.

Tell More About Yourself: Each Tea Has A Story

Do I have information about the background of the product that you are selling? Make sure you never see tea just as a commodity product. What makes tea great is the story behind it! Tell your customer about the background of the farmer, the production region, the way it’s made. These are all things that make your product memorable and at the same time a more enjoyable sip.

Get To Know Me More: Steeping Instructions

Steeping instructions are similar to user manuals of electronics, except people actually read them.  Nobody will read manuals of electronics, as most of the time the product speaks for itself. Tea is different, because the steeping ritual is as important as sipping the tea itself.

Never Give Up: Continously Improve

You can always be nervous about dating and that’s fine. Never give up. Even if the first dates fail, it’s what you learn from it that matters to continuously improve that great first impression that will attract.

NEXT: Marry Your Customer

The next step after dating and getting to know someone is that you will enter a marriage. Customer retention will become more important at that stage. More on this in our future blog posts!

This blog post belongs to a series of posts about How To Start A Tea Business

Coffee Leaf Tea Guide

There are many coffee and tea lovers around the world, and the war between the two beverages has been going on for ages. Tea is still leading by being the second most consumed beverage in the world right after water. But this might change soon. Recently coffee farmers have something new that could potentially be a real alternative to tea: Coffee Leaf Tea.

As the name already reveals, it’s a tea made from the actual leaves of the coffee plant. Wise Monkey is one of the first companies that attempt to revolutionize the coffee industry with this tea. See their video below:

Tea type: tea or tisane?

Coffee leaf tea is in fact not a real tea, as it’s not made from the original tea plant called ‘Camellia Sinensis’. The official term for other steeped beverages made from other plants, herbs, or fruits are called ‘Tisane’. In reality, most people still tend to use the term ‘tea’ by classifying it in a separate category of ‘herbal teas’. Popular teas made from other herbs such as kuding and honeysuckle tea also belong to this category.

Health benefits of coffee leaf tea

Though it’s often claimed that coffee leaf tea has more antioxidants compared to green tea, there is no reliable academic evidence for this yet. See the video below discussing the benefits:

Coffee plants & processing

Coffee leaf tea can be made from one of the two types of coffee plants:

  • Arabica coffee plant: originally from to the mountains of the southwestern highlands in Ethiopia
  • Robusta coffee plant: originally from central and western sub-Saharan in Africa

The processing of the leaves aren’t as complicated as for real tea. Right after picking the leaves are dried, roasted and then crumpled. At the moment, there are no such tea available yet made from full leaf or buds. The cultivation is mainly focused on making sure the quality of the coffee bean is good, so the quality of the leaf is kind of ignored. Besides, that coffee production regions don’t have the tea cultivation knowledge yet, to produce better quality coffee leaf tea.

The taste

The most important question: How does it taste? If the taste isn’t good, this all doesn’t have any meaning. The tea community describes this tea with the following words the most: earthy, grassy,  vegetal, licorice. The taste is often rated from bad to reasonably good.

Though the taste isn’t as well received yet, future improvement in processing (and maybe even better cultivation) can make this type of herbal tea only better.

Secondary income for farmers

Independent from whether it tastes good or not, the idea of coffee leaf tea is great, because it can offer secondary income for bean producers, as the discussed in the video of Wise Monkey above. It has economic meaning, as the leaves aren’t gone to waste. And, if the taste is good, then all tea lovers can benefit from it.

So what about you? Is it going to be coffee or tea? or coffee leaf tea?

Tea Startup: TeaBOT – A Robotic Tea Blender & Maker

Tea start-ups are hot these days with more and more international attention regarding all the health benefits that are continuously reported by media. Recently, I reported about Matebros‘ tea made for athletes, but today’s highlight is something completely different, but at least as creative: The TeaBOT.

So What Is It?

In simple words, the TeaBOT is basically a vending machine, that allows customers to make custom blends. It can make a custom blend within 30 seconds after you have selected your ingredients, see video below:

Make Your Own

The idea is great as healthy blends are becoming more and more popular, but many tea lovers find it too troublesome to make their own blends. In addition, tea blend vendors made not have the perfect blend that you have in mind, which the Tea Bot might be able to make!

Try First, Then Order

On the website it says that after trying out different blends, customers can choose their favorites and order a pouch for home. That’s pretty cool as it reduces the risk of disappointment if the actual taste is different from what you have imagined.

Not For Everyone

Those the product is very innovative and definitely of added value to many tea lovers. It’s not for everyone.

  • You don’t know what you want: This is a typical problem of many companies that sell custom products. Many tea lovers actually don’t really know what blends they will love and they prefer to be seduced by tea company by presenting their creative blends. It would be great if the TeaBOT can make personalized suggestions based on certain input by the customer.
  • You love to drink pure authentic tea: Blends are great for some, but some tea lovers will prefer to drink pure leaf teas without any added ingredients. Most of this type of customer will also take the time and enjoy making tea themselves, instead of using some automatic way.

Nevertheless, tea start-ups don’t exist to satisfy everyone, and I believe there will be many tea lovers out that that will find the TeaBOT pretty cool.

Tea Kickstarter Startup MatéBros – A Yerba Mate Tea For Athletes?

This month a new company called MatéBros just launched the Yerba Mate a mate tea drink on kickstarter that according to the company is especially designed for athletes. That’s pretty good marketing I would say, especially with a US Olympic gymnast Sam Mikulak behind the startup.

matebros yerba mate founders
Source: matebros.com

I personally, quiet like the branding of the can that obviously presents itself as an energy drink. See below:

yerba mate branding matebros energydrink
source: matebros.com

Ingredients

So what’s in the drink? Here are all the ingredients mentioned:

water, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, yerba mate leaf extract, stevia leaf extract and natural flavor.

The list of ingredients seems fine, though I am more a fan of real ingredients instead of using concentrates and extracts. What is kind of contradictory is that on their site it says the drink is brewed from real leaves:

The infusion is prepared by steeping dry leaves (and twigs) of the mate plant in hot water rather than in boiling water.

We source the finest, wild-harvested, yerba maté leaves from Paraguay and Uruguay and engage a 6-step brewing process that includes steeping in custom, professional-grade brew stations and then blended with a combination of fresh lemon juices, sugar-cane and natural flavors.

The ingredient ‘natural flavor’ also needs some more transparency.

One serving contains 104 mg of caffeine, that’s quiet a lot and comparable to a average cup of coffee, confirming that it’s indeed an alternative energy drink.

Will It Be Successful?

Yes, I think so. There are lots of energy drinks out there, but none of them presents themselves as an healthy energy drink. The branding of the current drinks focus more getting energy itself. I wouldn’t buy it myself though, and I doubt this drink is really good for athletes, as I do not think reliance on caffeine is good for long-term performance.

San Francisco International Tea Festival 2014

16 vendors participated during San Francisco tea festival 16 this year with interesting lectures and tea tastings for roughly 1000 visitors. It’s great to see so many tea festivals being organized all over the world to educate tea lovers on authentic loose tea and it’s wonderful culture. See below some pictures of this year’s festival in San Francisco.

Ferry Building, San Francisco, SF tea festival san francisco market hall
Ferry Building, San Francisco
SF tea festival tea tasting
Wanna try this 😉
SF tea festival free tea tasting 2014
Here’s your cuppa.
san francisco tea festival visitors
What should I try first?
I just can't wait to take a sip
Close-up shot, pouring tea
san francisco tea festival gaiwan
They look pretty!
san francisco tea festival gaiwan tea tasting
Yummy, it’s steeped perfectly!
san francisco tea festival enjoy tea 2014
No words can describe this taste…
s.f. tea festival tea shopping bags
Looking good!
s.f. tea festival girl drink tea
You’re never to young to start drinking tea. Watch out for the caffeine when drinking in the evening though.

Purple Tea, Coffee Leaf Tea, Alcoholic Tea & More

Lots of things are happening around the world when it comes to tea. Here’s a summary of all the news that you have to know about from this week.

Purple Tea?

Nelson Kibara has been growing tea in the Kerugoya region for 40 years. He said the prices this year have been so low that he has been left with almost no profit at all. To survive, he said, he needs to diversify. He thinks growing ‘Purple tea’ is the solution…Read More

Invest In Pu Erh Tea

Pu erh prices can sometimes be from another planet as we mentioned before in our article about Taetea’s pu erh tea cake. A growing number of Chinese are buying pu erh as an investment, like wine. In one of China’s biggest recorded sales, two kilos of Pu’erh tea sold for five million yuan, or around 800,000 US dollars. But the market isn’t always stable…Read More.

Coffee, Tea Or Coffee Leaf Tea?

It’s a completely innovative way to look at the plant and it’s disrupting the tea industry as well due to its higher antioxidant content than green tea. The main question remains though: How does it taste?…Read more
If you happen to try it out in the future, but you don’t like the taste, you can always try out our coffee-tea recipe.

Working Conditions Of Tea Pickers In India

Somewhat less pleasant news but important to highlight are the bad working conditions and exploitation tea pickers in India’s tea industry. This goes back centuries but recently about 100 tea workers in the Dooars region of West Bengal have died over the last 12 months brings the feudal conditions under which these workers are forced to toil into sharp focus…Read More

Rain Fall & Tea Taste

With a longer rainy season as a result of climate change, a larger proportion of the annual harvest is likely to be of lower-quality. Another concern for farmers is that tea harvested in the monsoon season needs more drying, which can also reduce its antioxidant properties…Read More

Alcoholic Tea?

Recently we reported about this Mar-Tea-Ni, but the trend towards alcoholic tea is continuing! Here’s the worlds first certified organic alcoholic ice tea…Read More

Do You Want a Tea Cocktail Mar-tea-ni or a Bubble Tea with Mixology

bubble tea mixology

Tea is the new coffee! As more and more restaurants, cafes and hotels starting to sell more exotic teas, a few of them are now trying to get creative in order to offer something unique. Here are two very good examples:

Mar-tea-ni

Berkeley’s Asha Tea House (2086 University Ave.) has always been a place for people with different levels of tea appreciation, including teenagers craving sweet boba drinks and connoisseurs who spend hours steeping top-grade high-mountain oolong leaves in a traditional gaiwan. Now there’s something for the boozehounds among us, too: Since August, Asha has been serving a small selection of tea cocktails. The drinks, which are available after 5:30 p.m., offer convincing evidence that tea and alcohol do, in fact, mix — better than you might imagine. Read more
tea cocktail

Bubble Tea with Mixology

The Frozen Old Fashioned bubble tea cocktail at MoPho tastes just like a standard version of the classic drink, but with daiquiri-like texture of blended ice and the squishy presence of tapioca pearls or gummy blobs of flavored jellies sucked through a fat straw. “I don’t think you can get any more fun and lighthearted than a boba tea,” said Jeff Gulotta, co-owner and manager of MoPho. (Gulotta, like many, prefers the more traditional word “boba” over the more popular “bubble” in describing the Southeast Asian drink. Read more

Given these two examples it seems that the possibilities are endless. Have you have tried to make a cool tea drink before at home? Perhaps you should try out making this bubble tea and add some additional creativity to it. Feel free to share.

A Teapot Made From Chocolate?

BBC spots a hand-crafted teapot made from dark chocolate. The teapot contains 65% cocoa solids and guess what: it brews a cup of tea with ‘hints’ of chocolate.

It was filled with chocolate, shaken to remove air bubbles, and the excess chocolate was poured off and the cast teapot allowed to dry. The process was repeated until the desired thickness of chocolate was achieved. It took the team more than two hours to produce the myth-busting pot but the resulting cups of tea were overseen by Marty Jopson of the BBC’s The One Show.

Besides the coolness factor of this teapot will it actually be useful? Well, let’s say that you should do this with your delicate & fine teas, but besides that, why not give it a try!

Chinese Art Collector Buys 35 Million USD The Wine Cup (Meiyintang), But Sips Tea

chinese ming dynasty art collector

Liu Yiqian, a Chinese multimillionaire, recently bought a 35 million USD wine cup from the Ming Dynasty, but got in trouble online by showing a picture of himself sipping tea out of it. This is what the rich art collector said: “Emperor Qianlong of the Ming Dynasty has used it, now I’ve used it” and  “I just wanted to see how it felt.” The cup, he added, “isn’t a commercial product appropriate for the masses.”

On Weibo, a Chinese social media site, Chinese art lovers and people in the lower classes of society are furious:

“You think you can drink it and become immortal?”

“In fact, isn’t it just a way to satisfy your vanity?”

The reason of all this rage is because this ‘chicken cup’ (also known as ‘Mei Yin Tang’) probably the most celebrated porcelain in Chinese history and there are only 17 left in the world. See the tea cup in the below image. It’s delicately crafted with flawless translucent sides flaring out from the countersunk base to a subtly everted rim. The outside is painted in faint outlines of cobalt blue under the glaze and picked out in overglaze enamels of yellow, green, light and dark olive green. In addition, two tones of iron red is used with a lively continuous scene of a red rooster and his golden hen out in a garden with their chicks. One side of the cup depicting the rooster with his head turned back to see the hen pecking at a red-winged insect on the ground.

chicken cup meiyintang

chicken cup

China High-End Tea Prices In Decline, Chinese Tea Shops Changing Strategies

China’s Tea Industry Association released information regarding the Chinese market for high end teas. The prospects are not positive as upscale tea sales have declined anywhere between 10 to 50%. Especially provinces who are famous for producing black suffered the most. Besides black tea, the famous Xinyang Maojian as well as high-end Tie Guan Yin are in decline.

The only two tea categories that are on the rise are white teas from Fuding as well as Pu’er teas from Yunnan.

Due to the above trends, tea shops in China are slowly adjusting their strategies, which include the following:

  1. Spend less on expensive packaging
  2. Sell smaller portions when it comes to high-end tea
  3. Offer more value for money assortment.

The Hubei Lu Yu Tea Culture Research Association also confirms that the luxury market is in decline in Hubei. Given the high operating cost, the this market segment is challenging to be in. Meanwhile, the association also reports that low-end teas (below 100 RMB/15USD per KG) is showing a steady but slow rise in prices.

Sources:

http://hb.ifeng.com/news/cjgc/detail_2014_07/10/2568653_0.shtml

http://news.163.com/14/0710/06/A0P8A9HA00014Q4P.html