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Starting your own tea business?

When starting your own tea business there are many things to consider.  

There are many different types of business that sell tea and there is definitely no such thing as one size fits all but there are some fundamental things common to all types of tea business.   You will already have a good idea about how your business will look but here we have detailed some main points to think about specifically related to tea that will make sure your business is as successful and profitable as possible.

Unique Selling Point

It is really important that know what your unique selling point is going to be from the outset.  This could be the experience your offer in your shop such as tastings, cakes, limited edition range of teas or serving methods.

Customers will be attracted to you as a brand choice based on what they perceive as your USP, what will stand you apart from the tea shop down the road?

Margin and Price Point

Price point is one of the most important things to consider. If you price yourself too cheap then you will quickly find that you don't have enough spare funds to purchase more stock and cover your overheads.  If you price yourself too high, you could find it difficult to break into what is already a very competitive market.

Range of Teas

In most cases, you'll want your customers to have a good number of teas to choose from without overwhelming them. It is worth stocking staples like Breakfast Blend and Earl Grey, at least one green option, and a selection of caffeine free fruit and herbal infusions. On top of this you might like to select one or two less common teas to make your menu stand out.

Teaware

Depending on how you'll be serving your teas there will be different teaware to suit your needs. In most cases you can use pots in a couple of sizes, with removable infuser baskets. These are the most convenient way to strike a balance between having a degree of control over the brewing process (as the basket can be removed during infusion) whilst not requiring careful preparation and supervision. To go alongside these pots it good to provide some kind of tea-timer so the customer can remove their leaves after the recommended infusion time.

The choice of cups is huge, but it is worth considering that when serving tea it is usual to have smaller cups that can be refilled rather than mugs.

There are instances where you might like to branch out in more specialist teaware. For a tea like Matcha you'll need a proper whisk at the minimum and Matcha bowls if you want to enhance the experience. If you want to offer tea Gong Fu Cha style, you'll need a set that allows you to this properly. Japanese teas are traditionally brewed in a Kyusu teapot – again this is not a requirement, rather an option for those who'd like to offer additional options.

Branding

It is harder than ever to stand out, and a good brand name and design is one of the most effective ways to make your company more visible. Try to find a memorable name that fits what you are doing, make it fit with your USP – customers become loyal to brands, and will choose to buy the same tea from one establishment rather than another based solely on what they consider their chosen brand to represent.

Serving

The way you serve tea, and the types of tea you serve depends on what kind of establishment you are hoping to run. If you open a busy café that is selling food and drink then it is entirely possible you want to serve good quality tea quickly and easily – using infuser basket pots and timers leaving the customer in charge of the infusion.

It is worth considering how you will control water temperature for your different teas. Variable temperature kettles are available at affordable prices and make it easy to infuse teas that don't require boiling water, being able to serve your teas at the correct temperature makes big difference to the taste and can be a talking point for customers who'd like to know more.

If you'd like to offer a more personal tea drinking experience than it is possible you'll be serving tea Gong Fu Cha style, for this you'd require a dedicated set of teaware. 

The way the tea is served is all dependent on the types of teas you are stocking, and the kind of experience you want your customers to have.

Wholesaling

It might be that you are looking to supply other businesses as well as simply sell and serve tea on your own premises. This can be a good business opportunity, buying in larger bulk to improve a resale margin. One major pitfall that often causes difficulty especially in the early stages of setting up a wholesale business is having too large a range. A tea business might try to wholesale every item on its inventory, which means building up a standing stock of everything.

This can be expensive, the storage requirements can be difficult to meet and the inventorying of this stock can become complicated, especially if the business is packing products down into different packaging for different types of customer.

The solution for many businesses is to build up a wholesale range as a subset of its entire inventory, stocking up on the staples that can be most readily resold and wholesaling other products on request only.

Packaging

Alongside branding, your packaging is one of the big ways to stand out. If your packaging reflects your brand identity, this can help build customer loyalty. In addition, it is important to consider what customers will be looking for in a packaging solution.

For many tea businesses, customers will be waste-conscious, ecologically aware and will likely want to feel sure that they are not excessively contributing to large amounts of waste plastic or inefficient single use solutions in general. It is very difficult to eliminate plastics entirely, but with some work it is possible to minimise waste. If your packaging is reusable this is a major positive, and if combined with an attractive design it can help a brand distinguish itself from the generic alternative.