Imagine an industry where tea aficionados were given the same level of quality and care as coffee drinkers. For us at Casa De Cha – new kids on the block and true tea ambassadors – the inconsistencies in how tea is offered and brewed is the elephant in the coffee house, and we’re committed to changing that.
Our goal is to elevate the coffee industry’s understanding of specialty tea preparation and service, and help develop a new Australian tea culture. We do this not only for our own sake, but that of consumer’s – tea lovers who refuse to buy a pot of tea at many cafés or restaurants because they know it won’t be brewed correctly of decent quality, or served with little or no care.
We know that the specialty coffee community is focused on flavour, traceability, sustainability, and quality, as are we. Australia is the world leader in coffee service. Our baristas are some of the finest in the world, but, the truth is, they are responsible for more than just coffee. Their clients, increasingly, are insisting on it.
Specialty teas are pure leaf teas. Much like coffee and wine, they are seen as a true representation of origin – that moment, place, and time. From the picking season, terroir, picking method, tea cultivar, altitude, processing method, and roasting – these influence the final taste, which will mature and vary from year to year, season to season.
If we think back, the specialty coffee market passed through an evolutionary phase around 20 to 30 years ago when there were few professionals and seemingly no market. However, coffee came out the other side as a powerful economic force. It’s safe to then assume, going off current market trends, tea will go through a similar evolution.
Some European fine-dining establishments and other businesses are now providing complete tea-and-food paired menus as a sophisticated alternative to wine. In Asia, tea appreciation and culture runs deep. Some teas are more expensive than gold.
Perceptions of tea must change if we are to ride the wave that is coming. We must innovate and allow ourselves to be creative with tea and the variety of forms it can be served in. Adopting new service, preparation, and presentation ideas is one of the best ways to change perceptions. For instance, we can pair teas with food, with coffee, use it as a palate cleanser, a cooking ingredient, serve tea in decanters, wine glasses, or as a cocktail ingredient.
Like wine, teas’ flavour profiles change drastically with the seasons. Why not offer a rotating, seasonal reserve selection of teas to entice explorative foodies into this new and complex world? Adopting a seasonal approach gives authenticity to a menu, and caters to the diverse tastes of customers, which could be your competitive advantage.
With waste an ongoing area of focus in the industry, also consider the reduced environmental footprint of tea. Tea has profit margin of 90 per cent with minimum to zero per cent wastage. The leaves can be used again for cold brew or even in cooking. Some cafés have recorded a waste percentage of 20 per cent.
Specialty coffee professionals are in a unique position to find new and exciting ways to showcase this often misunderstood but incredible and versatile product.
We invite you to support the rise of specialty tea. You are in a privileged position to raise the standards of tea service and quality in this country. By becoming more educated and working together with tea professionals, we can build that bridge and create mutually beneficial relationships that put an end to the dichotomy between tea and coffee. Let’s work together to help Australia become the world leader in specialty tea Service