Tea Menu. Tea menus come in many forms: from a one-line sentence listing the teas to a menu above the counter to several pages of teas described in a way that is not wholly dissimilar to a wine menu. I look forward to the day when tea menus in all cafés and restaurants are written in a clear, concise, and inviting way that excites customers as they look through them. However teas are presented on a menu, though, it is the ordering experience that can really make a difference.
Ordering Tea at the Counter. It is very refreshing when a staff member at the counter explains to me the types of teas they have with a glint in her eye and a smile on her face. I remember once when a member of staff explained that he had an English and an Irish breakfast tea. He went on to say that the Irish breakfast tea was really robust in the cup compared to the English. I was so excited that I ordered the Irish. What I was presented with was a famous brand bagged tea however, although that didn’t detract from the staff’s knowledge and enthusiasm. The experience I had was tea-riffic (shame about the tea though).
Ordering Tea at the Table. If the tea menus are on the table, is the staff member tea educated enough to talk about the range of teas if the customer wants to try something new? What is their best-selling tea? What tea does the customer like? What kind of tea is the customer in a mood for? If the customer has ordered a black tea, would he like milk and sugar to be brought to the table? These little questions can really help to engage customers and make their tea-drinking experience a little bit more special.
Tea Preparation. Truly memorable moments for me include seeing the teas being prepared in front of me. Tea bars / salons are a fabulous way to engage the customers without talking to them as they become enthralled with the tea sommelier showing care, love, and attention in making the perfect cup of tea. The Gong Fu Tea ceremony is another way of preparing tea and engaging the customer.
Presentation of the Tea. The presentation of tea can come in many forms and I have shared plenty of tea pictures to illustrate how this might be done; how tea is presented can really enhance the whole tea experience as well as the customer service, if done properly. If the tea comes with an infuser or in a teapot with an infuser, is there something that the infuser can be placed on once the tea has been infused? Does the staff member infuse the tea for the customer? Does the staff member inform the customer how long to steep the tea? Does the tea come with a tea timer? There is no right or wrong way, just in case you’re wondering, as long as it is done well.
It’s All in the Tea Leaf. Finally, the real testament to excellent customer service comes in the cup itself. There is nothing more disappointing than sitting down to a cup of tea that isn’t steeped enough, has been oversteeped, or doesn’t have much flavor.
What other aspects of the tearoom visit do you think are important when it comes to making that tea experience truly memorable?