Coffee has enjoyed a huge leap in understanding over the last twenty five years. Perhaps now is the time for tea to follow in its steps and there is no reason why it cannot. However, the starting point has to be to understand that tea plays a very different role to coffee and maybe one which could be of real value in the present marketplace and our daily lives.
Coffee found its strength through the way that companies such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Café Nero created a retail and take-away culture. That is not what defines tea – tea is more about bringing people together and being the centre point of a conversation between people. Here lies the opportunity as we re-emerge from some tough times, people do yearn to belong to communities and to socially interact once again, to create pause and reflection – and it is often around beverages that this will happen.
There is a genuine opportunity today to reimagine the position of tea in our daily lives and to redefine the role which tea plays in the support of real change.
Tea is the worlds most widely consumed drink after water and yet so few of us possess any real in-depth knowledge on the variety of tea available, the numerous origins thereof and the cultures where tea sits at the heart.
This is perhaps where tea can play a new role, although it is the same role that it has always played historically – in creating a time for reflection and calm in the day. It was the great old Prime Minister, William Gladstone who commented:
“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you,
if you are depressed, it will cheer you,
if you are excited, it will calm you.”
With all the drama and noise which surrounds our daily lives, many have called for periods of calm reflection to play a stronger role in our lives and for our wellbeing. Perhaps it would be of value to many organisations to create a time in the working day for tea, as quientessentially British as that may sound. Bringing people together around tea for calm reflection and conversation may sound old fashioned but it may just work and will not be a costly exercise.
Wouldn’t it be special to reimagine and redefine what tea means to and for us? How wonderful to be able to intentionally explore more than just the traditional and habitual tea varieties which we all drink daily but to also include the great varieties which exist and are found across the world. Wouldn’t it be exciting to create new forums where people are able to come together and enjoy tea which explores the stories, communities, cultures and health benefits behind each cup?
For the Hospitality industry, this opens some real opportunities. We are seeing Stadiums create their own signature teas, tea and food pairing, tea menus and tea bars for those who do not enjoy alcohol and are looking for a new experience. In corporate offices where alcohol is often inappropriate and coffee is already widely accessible, many are looking to offer a greater and more interesting variety of teas to their guests. In hotels, new tea menus which can create a special and unique experience are being commissioned and explored, with complimentary menus and story telling to engage and delight the drinker.
Tea is about bringing people together. The opportunity is very much in place to generate some long lasting change which impacts positively on our communities, our environment and our wellbeing.