What tea do you drink most of?
For me, I prefer unflavored Taiwanese oolong and shu pu-erh. I drink at least one or the other (out of the dozens that I have) every day. I’m also very partial to black teas from the Yunnan, Laoshan, and Fujian regions. I’ve always liked straight unflavored tea over flavored, or blended teas. That’s me personally.
I’m a relatively tea newbie, but I find myself preferring black teas with white teas coming in second. My favorite types of black teas are hearty breakfast blend, Darjeeling, dark oolong, and keemun. For white tea, right now I am really enjoying Verdant tea’s Budset Bai Mu Dan
Hm, my must-haves in generalized categories, when I think in terms of “what do I think no tea shop should be without” would be something like…
-Assam, or barring that, a brisk classic breakfast-y blend: smooth, bold, and plain
-Darjeeling! Nepalis are nice/similar too
-Lapsang Souchong, or some smoky blended take on it (Caravan)
-unique specialty Chinese or Taiwanese black…you know, stuff like Laoshan Black, Bailin Gongfu, a Yunnan black, or Golden Fleece/Needle or Honey Orchid, etc.
-a light, flowery oolong (like, a Bao Zhong)
-a high altitude oolong
-a roasty oolong (lots of options…Wuyi stuff)
-flavored/scented oolongs (I’m partial to coconut, a milk oolong that tastes good whether that means it’s “real” or flavored, lots of other options out there)
-a really good plain Chinese green (I like Bilochun and Dragonwell and Hou Kui)
-a really good plain Japanese green (Sencha seems the obvious choice as it’s so popular, but there are so many possibilities)
-flavored green blends, because I adore them…especially fruity/floral ones
-something a little quirky, whether that’s hojicha or soba cha or something like that
-good Bai Mudan
-good Silver Needle
-Earl Grey of some sort, whether classic, cream, lavender/floral, smoky, or something else more obscure
-delicious, rich, dessert-y flavored black tea (way too many possibilities to list!)
-similar sort of dessert tea that doesn’t contain caffeine (ditto)
-a tisane that helps with sleep
-a tisane that’s great for preventing (and/or relieving the symptoms of) colds/congestion
I don’t have any real disciplined exposure yet to pu erh, but having a good sheng and a good shu at least would make a tea place seem more comprehensive. Same sorta thing with yellow tea, flowering tea, jasmine scented tea, chai, and pure Kenyan and Ceylon teas—I don’t personally love all of those, but they often seem to come with the territory.
That said, some of my favorite places don’t strive to be comprehensive survey spots at all but instead unique sources for random, while-it-lasts special rarities or unusual flavors and blends. Still other vendors focus on being the best at one particular aspect of tea—matcha, or oolongs, or Japanese greens, or pu erh. There’s definitely a lot to be said for those approaches too—why be like everyone else and all that. I know for me, I don’t care what type of tea it is or how comprehensive a vendor is site-wide so long as they have a tea or two that is head and shoulders better than any of the other teas of that kind I’ve tried elsewhere. In the end, if the tea’s delicious that’s all that matters. But I guess that’s obvious.
I also like the idea of seasonal rotation and highlighting different flavors or teas at the appropriate time of year.
Oh, and not necessary as its own thing so much as something I appreciate vendors noting on individual teas is whether a tea is especially delicious cold-steeped/iced.
Wow! Thanks for all the fantastic responses!
unflavoured blacks, greens (both Chinese & Japanese), white tea, a green oolong & dark(er) roasterd, Honeybush, and some blends.
In always have a supply of a good Ceylon, a Darjeeling, and an Assam (i prefer to make my own breakfast blends), green teas, and a few oolongs, and a good Earl Grey
My go-to is a flavored black tea, often a vanilla or caramel flavored. Unflavored black would be my next choice – something strong like an Irish breakfast tea.
I’d also include an herbal tea selection, I know not technically tea, but it’s a safe bet that you will get a fair amount of customers looking for herbal. I’d say about half of my tea cabinet currently is herbal.
Some herbals to start off with: Chamomile is almost universally popular in herbal teas.
Also make sure to have at least some decaffeinated versions of popular teas.
Go for variations, like say Victorian Earl Grey instead of the standard regular.
Teas-I tend to go for flavored black and white, though there are some greens I don’t mind and a few oolongs.
Ceylon Nuwara Eliya most of the time, of an evening I’ve a lovely Gingerbread Rooibus from TeaHouse. I’m also partial to Twinings Mint Humbug tea pyramids
If you’ll be launching during the cooler months definitely throw a masala chai in the mix. A few other staples I can think of is a bergamot tea (earl grey), black orange pekoe or english breakfast, oolong (formosa perhaps), a green tea (jasmine is always popular), rooibos blend (caffeine free versions of earl grey or chai are a hit), and something fruity or dessert like. If you’re trying to break into crafting menus for cafes big staples in addition to the ones mentioned above would be some sort of mint based herbal tea, ginger, and chamomile.