Last year saw an increase in the popularity of iced tea, with consumers flocking to try exciting beverages dreamed up by innovative market leaders. Dave Lim, owner of Sun Ray Cafe, Second Runner Up at the International Tea Masters Cup 2017 and Certified Tea Master, shares his insights.
How can F&B operators use different trends in iced tea to attract a larger customer base?
A trend to exploit would be our region’s familiarity with different types of hot tea. Focusing on what we are used to—black, green, jasmine tea—can be a good way to add diversity to an iced tea menu.
Also, if iced teas include chunks of fruit, the appeal can be greatly increased. Innovative brewing methods such as the recent trend of nitro coffee have caught onto the world of tea, too.
What would you say is the most important thing for F&B operators to manage when designing a new, innovative iced tea menu?
Tea brewing is based on science. I use a cold brew coffee dripper, adding melting ice to let water slowly drip through the tea leaves. This way, the slow drip is controlled and can extract select flavours. The best person to represent tea is a coffee barista. When you talk about brewing temperature, brewing parameters, and time, a barista understands it already.
Tea is so ingrained in Southeast Asian dining culture. How do you think this heritage can influence the modern tea experience?
In South East Asia, our history gives us potential to turn tea into something profitable and trendy. Tea was blended with herbs into a medicinal drink in the past. As an industry, we could draw on this history to create something healthy yet interesting.
How can F&B operators combat pre-determined ideas of how tea should be brewed and consumed, to successfully introduce trendy new tea styles?
Traditional tea drinkers will remain traditional. So, at Sun Ray Cafe, we serve our hot teas in a traditional way. When people are impressed by our knowledge, we might ask them to try some cold tea. It’s a great way to introduce something different, because they already trust that we can brew tea properly.
There’s a growing awareness around how food choices contribute to overall health and wellness. How can F&B operators tap into this market?
There is some acceptance that we don’t need to add sugar to everything. A way to push this is to use quality teas that have a lot of flavour and sweetness, minimising the need to add extra juice or sugar.
For F&B operators, this can be a good selling point because iced teas can then be sold as completely natural, and healthier too.
Any final statements?
Moving forward, F&B operators can look to coffee industry trends for translatable opportunities—such as nitro cold brew. Health, wellness and sustainability are an ongoing sector of interest, so keeping sugar to a minimum and using teas that are grown and harvested via sustainable practices—such as Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Lipton Teas—can also help to attract and retain customers.
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