If you were going to start a tea house...
I have often thought I’d love to open a tea house one day, but I wonder what and how I would serve the tea. It’s totally a theoretical topic for me as I’m not planning on going out and doing this. Does anyone else ask themselves questions like:
Like if I was going to to open a tea house I would definitely want to serve this brand of tea? But not this brand of tea?
Would I want to focus on creating a relationship with a few tea companies? Or would I work with a lot of different tea companies?
I suppose that would all depend on the purpose and focus of your tea shop. If you’re attempting to build a focused experience, a small number of providers would likely be best. If you’re shooting for variety, a larger spectrum of providers is to be expected.
Yes, that would definitely be something one would have to decide. I think I’d go more for a small number as I like to keep things simple. But I can see advantages to offering more variety too.
One of the biggest issues for me has always been considering the fact that most people don’t appreciate tea the way I do. So while I love my Wuyi teas and my Himalayan teas and my Gyokuros… all without additives or flavoring… most people seem to need that extra something to keep them interested.
While you could make a business of caternig to the purists, that business would be fairly small. Offering very limited quantities of tea.
I don’t know where you’re located, but generally speaking, only large cities would have the sustainable customer bases of purists needed for that business model in a retail setting.
Addition those extra teas may cost a little more… but you’ll really reap the benefits if you choose the right teas for the people who will most frequent your shop.
I’ve planned out my dream tea shop too :) In my dreams, I’d serve a couple teas each from from the 10 or so different companies that I’m crazy for. I’d have my staples, and then rotate a few here and there for the change of seasons/holidays/“limited edition” type scenarios. It would be super cozy, definitely the kind of place you’d feel comfortable bringing a book and being alone, or going with friends and having a chat. I’d serve light food and sweets, and every pot of tea would come with a home made cookie that was complimentary. I’d have my selections able to be purchased loose leaf, and I’d also have a small but thoughtful selection of teaware for sale. I’d host a reading group, a movie night, and a craft night. Ooooh! I love talking about this!
Ah, this makes me daydream. I would also love to include things like movies, books, and informative talks. I don’t think I would include any food though out of simplicity. (But your cookie idea sounds lovely.)
I have often envisioned the space having a cozy section mixed with an open floor plan to accommodate both types of people.
I also like your country idea. That gives me an idea of changing the menu based on country but having a core offering of teas as well. Again, that would accommodate people who like familiarity and those that like something new.
I’m a health coach so I would definitely want to work that in as well. Some kind of nutritional talks or something like I do now.
Thinking about this really gets the creative juices flowing…
loupea – I often though of having the front be more streamlined with little stools and high tables for quick bites and take away, the middle have a big sideways counter, all the sweets and loose teas to purchase, and teaware and stuff, and the back be the cozy part, then the kitchen in the very back for baking, tea prep, soupmaking etc. There is actually a store front for rent in my town that would be perfect for this layout and I peer in it every time I walk by. But I’m actually ready to become a teacher soon – I need 9 lives like a cat so I can do everything I’d love to! :)
Thanks, humangirl, if you were talking to me. If to JacquelineM, I agree with you. :)
JacquelineM – You’ve done a lot of thinking…I hope you are able to open your tea house one day. It sounds wonderful.
If you build it, they may come. I would. ;) Your dream tea shop sounds seriously tempting!
I’m currently in pastry school, and my entrepreneurial husband is convinced we’re going to open a bakery someday… and I think it would neat be offer a sort of mini afternoon tea, with just a few of my favorites offered at a time.
I kind of plan on having most of my pastries and things on rotation/seasonal, because I’d rather have a few things done really well than a large variety at all times. The tea would probably match whatever is on the menu for that period of time, with one or two full-time varieties.
I’m actually seriously considering selling Zoomdweebie’s Tea Bar so I can focus on the Internet and wholesale side of our business. Frankly, more and more frequently, our kids are wearing me OUT.
BTW, from my experience, a few pointers: if you make it TOO cozy, you will wind up with loungers who come in and buy one tea and spend four hours there (not good for the bottom line).
Also, don’t underestimate the food options. If I had Zoomdweebie’s to do all over again, I would put a full kitchen in and make more of a restaurant out of it.
I can see that happening! I remember when I was in grad school I would hole up with a cup of soup and some coffee or tea at this one cafe for hours! They probably hated me! :)
Oh yeah, when I have a large gap between classes I totally do this to the local tea/coffee shops. Sorry!
I’ve always made it a point to continue ordering more stuff while I ‘lounge’ with my iPad or laptop. I like to take in the ambiance and culture of a place and have always enjoyed trying new things. There is no menu too large to whet my palate for more. :-)
It seems a lot of tea houses are of two varieties- traditional, frilly English tea and Asian inspired. I always thought it would be fun to have a tea shop more along the lines of those in Russia, Eastern Europe or Turkey. Samovars, old battered silverware, mismatched tea glasses and, of course, some great, hearty teas. Throw in a few different piroshki made by Babushka and it might be a winner.
Yes, that is so true. Here in CT up until last year every tea shop was the frilly English style. Now we have at least two that are the more the Asian style. (We tend to always be behind the times here.) I would love to see someone do something different!
Oh yes…how lovely. Turkey has such a great tea culture. But unfortunately it never gets much credit for this. Especially in the States.
Come to Europe…there is a Turkish grocery store or Cafe on every corner.
In fact they do the most sensational baklava ever…so sweet that one might consider it a sin. Earthy, strong black tea goes with it very well!!!
I too have these dreams and fantasies but for me I would have tea, coffee, and wines and offer light pairings for all. Offer a comfortable setting something like the coffee shop in Friends with some variation. For sure FREE WiFi and a fun events calendar with free and paid classes or maybe something else of interest.
Ooh, fun! I have toyed with the idea of wine as well. (Not coffee as I would want to create a relaxed vibe). But I imagine adding wine to the mix would add a whole new dimension of complicated. But it might be worth it!
There is a place where I live that sounds sort of like what you are describing. They also have a one-theater movie room and an art gallery. It’s located in an old warehouse. Very funky and hip.
I wanted to open one a year ago, but then reality set in. I live in an area with unstoppable growing unemployment. I have a ba in culinary, I was going to make mine part gourmet sandwiches/brunch items, part simple pastries, and part teas.
Instead, I have made my kitchen into a tea house. I painted it, made a special area for my teas and tea pots, and made it look like what I wanted the tea house to look like. So I am living the dream…kinda….
Tea for me always is a kind of retreat from ‘reality’… I most certainly would not want to let it become a business. Besides, I am much to sensitiv for this. Whenever a customer would put a cup of MY tea to his/her lips I would stand behind my counter…breathless…waiting for the expression on that persons face.
On the other hand I would get rather hysterical if I would find a customer sweetening his green or put milk in his…in MY Oolong…
But for all you dreamers out there…MY tea house would have two floors with two themes. First floor English-Victorian. 2nd floor Chinese. Behind my tea house would be a Japanese garden with a bamboo hut…for a lovely Japanese tea ceremony that I would offer every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon.
ooooh I’d like to go there :) If I am feeling spare and zen and craving an oolong, I’d go to the second floor, and if I feeling froofy milky and sweet I can go to the first!