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Loose Leaf Tea

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Tea Lover

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I was recently in the eastern shore of MD with my husband staying at a fantastic little B&B and got into a long conversation with the innkeeper about their coffee and tea service.
I had mentioned to the innkeeper that I owned a boutique tea company (we supply amazingly delicious loose leaf tea, tea gifts, and tea accessories) and she and I got into a great conversation about tea service at her B&B. She said that they were set with their coffee service (their coffee was delicious), but all she had to offer for those interested in tea was a tea chest with Bigelow tea bags.
After talking with her for a while she expressed an interest in serving loose leaf tea to her guests, and building up her tea service to be on par with her coffee service.
I can't stop thinking about the conversation we had weeks after it occurred. After browsing these forums it appears like you innkeepers have to do a TREMENDOUS amount of work to maintain your B&Bs and keep your guests happy. In addition to this frustration you are in an ongoing battle to "win" guests and fill rooms through smart marketing, perks and priveleges, and unique offerings.
I am seriously thinking about refactoring my loose leaf tea business to serve only you - the innkeeper. Here are some ideas I was thinking about to help you while increasing your value to your customers. Comments appreciated!
  • Teach you how to market tea to increase your B&B's guest appeal
  • Provide comprehensive tea education so you can appear as a "tea expert" to your guests
  • Provide a private label program so you can easily sell your guests tea they might have enjoyed at breakfast
  • ONLY sell to B&B innkeepers at discounted prices
  • Provide complete guidance on how to select, store, display, and brew quality tea
  • Provide a vendor managed tea inventory service
  • Provide everything you might need - teapots, teacups, teakettles, tea cozies (SO CUTE!), and tea accessories
What do you all think? Is this something you could use?
Thanks,
Tiffany
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Thank you, but I would have very little use for loose leaf teas here. Because I am involved in a STASH TEA promotion (excellent quality teas which I personally love) I will continue to shop through them. I offer our guests fine teas of all kinds, but not loose leaf. Even our British guests prefer to bag it. Others might tho, this is just for our place here.
 

Morticia

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What's the name of your business? Gives us an idea of what you have already and whether it would work as is.
 

GeorgiaGirl

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When we stayed at a B&B outside of Portsmouth the Innkeeper had one of those instant Japanese hot water pots, small teapots with the mesh filter and loose tea (she used Portsmouth brand). There was a printout on the wall with instructions on making your own pot of tea (how many scoops, steeping, etc.), we loved it, it felt like a luxury! I truly do think loose teas taste better, but I think it's more upkeep for the Innkeeper.
 

gillumhouse

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I have between my loose leaf (Let's Do Tea) and bagged (Yorkshire & Lifeboat from England, Freshpak from South Africa, Stash, and Bigelow) teas, over 100 varieties for my guests to use. A recent guest told me about a teamaker that I just bought and am awaiting the arrival of so I can try it before I post it as a resource. I had a huge hutch built specifically because of my teas. I needed a place to put them. I am always interested in new teas. I also offer coffee from 14 countries (some with more than one variety) in regular and currently 4 countries in decafe.
I am lazy and busy - taking time to make tea is for me, an interruption. I can make a pot of coffee and just pout, add my requirements to be able to drink it, and go (about 1 minute unless interrupted by DH).
 

egoodell

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Sounds more like something you should offer the big hotels. They have employees who would have the time to devote to just making loose tea and properly serving it.
I don't have the time to do so between my wine tours and the B&B.
Best,
Erika
 

gillumhouse

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Sounds more like something you should offer the big hotels. They have employees who would have the time to devote to just making loose tea and properly serving it.
I don't have the time to do so between my wine tours and the B&B.
Best,
Erika.
Rikki,
I do not fix their tea - I show how to make their own tea bag should they choose that, or they can use infusers. Not time consuming on my part. Just to clarify time issue for loose tea. (As of now, I just hit the switch on the hot pot for the water as I put the juice on the table when they come in to the dining room.)
 

egoodell

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Sounds more like something you should offer the big hotels. They have employees who would have the time to devote to just making loose tea and properly serving it.
I don't have the time to do so between my wine tours and the B&B.
Best,
Erika.
Rikki,
I do not fix their tea - I show how to make their own tea bag should they choose that, or they can use infusers. Not time consuming on my part. Just to clarify time issue for loose tea. (As of now, I just hit the switch on the hot pot for the water as I put the juice on the table when they come in to the dining room.)
.
We just don't get that many tea drinkers. In one year we had maybe three.
I was more thinking that it would be one more thing to remember to maintain and have to show people how to use rather than just keeping teabags.
Riki
 

Tea Lover

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The name of my tea company is Lu de' Lu (www.ludelu.com). I have been mainly focused on selling tea gift bags (instead of a basket we pack everything into a cute purse).
We source a lot of the higher quality tea items (including Brown Betty Teapots, great loose leaf tea, custom tea cozies).
That is a fantastic point, JBJ and GeorgiaGirl, about the hassle that might be associated with loose leaf tea versus the perception by guests that it is a unique luxury experience.
One of the ways to eliminate the hassle from loose leaf tea is to brew a larger batch at once, then serve in a teapot with a cute tea cozy. That way you don't have guests fiddling with the loose leaf tea and cleanup becomes as easy as coffee.
If you already have an afternoon guest reception where you serve snacks, add a "tea party experience" to it. If you don't have an afternoon reception, this gives you a great excuse to create one and add more value.
Different cozies could be used for different flavors of tea. Some examples are below of my teapot cozies:


Another thing I am exploring is providing clear glass teapots (that would sit on a heater) for blooming teas. I don't know if you have ever seen blooming teas before, but as they brew they literally turn into a beautiful flower. This is another strategy to eliminate the hassle of guests handling the loose leaf tea.
 

seashanty

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your tea cozies are lovely and the blooming tea is a neat thing.
i had A LOT of guests who drank tea. i provided little tea pots with cups underneath so they could 'brew' their own. they loved this. i would be open to exploring different tea options but not loose leaf. there is the problem of cleaning out the tea balls ... since the self serve area where i had the tea service has no sink, just a large water dispenser, the guests would not be able to rinse out the tea balls.
there are inns that have 'tea time' that may be very receptive to the your offerings.
 

gillumhouse

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your tea cozies are lovely and the blooming tea is a neat thing.
i had A LOT of guests who drank tea. i provided little tea pots with cups underneath so they could 'brew' their own. they loved this. i would be open to exploring different tea options but not loose leaf. there is the problem of cleaning out the tea balls ... since the self serve area where i had the tea service has no sink, just a large water dispenser, the guests would not be able to rinse out the tea balls.
there are inns that have 'tea time' that may be very receptive to the your offerings..
My guests love the Tea-for-ones
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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I had guests here two weekends ago who own a Tea room. Of coruse they drank coffee. LOL
 

YellowSocks

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I use Bigelow because they are individually wrapped and stay fresh. I do have a glass jar of black "tea tea" that is also available.
I would be interested in more tea options, but the reality is I don't have that much traffic here (at least, not now).
Our tea drinkers seem to come in waves... no one drinks it for weeks, and then everyone does for two weekends in a row.
=)
Kk.
 

Willowpondgj

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The name of my tea company is Lu de' Lu (www.ludelu.com). I have been mainly focused on selling tea gift bags (instead of a basket we pack everything into a cute purse).
We source a lot of the higher quality tea items (including Brown Betty Teapots, great loose leaf tea, custom tea cozies).
That is a fantastic point, JBJ and GeorgiaGirl, about the hassle that might be associated with loose leaf tea versus the perception by guests that it is a unique luxury experience.
One of the ways to eliminate the hassle from loose leaf tea is to brew a larger batch at once, then serve in a teapot with a cute tea cozy. That way you don't have guests fiddling with the loose leaf tea and cleanup becomes as easy as coffee.
If you already have an afternoon guest reception where you serve snacks, add a "tea party experience" to it. If you don't have an afternoon reception, this gives you a great excuse to create one and add more value.
Different cozies could be used for different flavors of tea. Some examples are below of my teapot cozies:


Another thing I am exploring is providing clear glass teapots (that would sit on a heater) for blooming teas. I don't know if you have ever seen blooming teas before, but as they brew they literally turn into a beautiful flower. This is another strategy to eliminate the hassle of guests handling the loose leaf tea..
Darling cozies! I thought about doing the blooming teas but they are way too expensive! Pretty tho!
 

briarrosebb

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We offer only loose-leaf teas and it's a big part of our offering. We use two "zojirushi" hot water heaters (set at different temperatures) so that we have no waiting for brewing to start. It still takes a few minutes to brew a pot ... and we brew many pots a day. Guests face our our wall of tea: http://briarrosebb.com/tea.html. This has gotten us some free word-of-mouth marketing as guests recount their tea experience at the Briar Rose as they move across the state. Our tea budget is in excess of $100 a month.
 

Tea Lover

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We offer only loose-leaf teas and it's a big part of our offering. We use two "zojirushi" hot water heaters (set at different temperatures) so that we have no waiting for brewing to start. It still takes a few minutes to brew a pot ... and we brew many pots a day. Guests face our our wall of tea: http://briarrosebb.com/tea.html. This has gotten us some free word-of-mouth marketing as guests recount their tea experience at the Briar Rose as they move across the state. Our tea budget is in excess of $100 a month..
Brendan,
I absolutely love your wall of tea! Your success with offering your guests quality loose leaf tea is inspiring, and definitely helps attract business during these rough economic times.
I do have a couple questions, though. Several people have commented that the fear of dealing with loose leaf tea has caused them to stay away from it (and potentially lose out on the word-of-mouth marketing success that you have seen). How do you successfully handle the "mess" of having guests interact with your tea wall?
Have you found more success with offering guests pots of tea or by serving in individual quantities with something like a one-pot? You say that your current budget for loose leaf tea is $100/month - how many pounds of tea are you/your guests consuming a month?
I have researched a novel approach that I believe would allow B&B owners to create their own loose leaf tea display while completely eliminating the mess of cleaning mesh filters. Would this make it more palatable to those that hate cleaning up messes (like me!)?
 

seashanty

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do you see? briar rose has a sink. it's not that i hate cleaning up messes, there is no place in the common area where guests make their own tea that they can rinse tea balls after dumping the used leaves here.
ps i am a big tea drinker
 

briarrosebb

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Generally, guests do not make the tea. The weight of the tea service is felt in making the 3-5 pots of tea a day (there would be an additional 3-5 pots during breakfast)... not in the mess. Tea is only brewed in the kitchen... mess is not a factor. It increases the amount of traffic in our small kitchen which is sometimes awkward... a factor aggravated by guests needing time to make their tea selection while facing the wall of tea.
I don't know how much tea we use but you can estimate our unit costs based on our typical wholesale suppliers:
 

Tea Lover

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Seashanty/Brendan,
If you could offer guests a way for them to brew individual cups of loose leaf tea without the mess of mesh tea balls, without requiring a sink, and without the hassle of toting teapots back and forth to the kitchen would you be interested?
 

Willowpondgj

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Seashanty/Brendan,
If you could offer guests a way for them to brew individual cups of loose leaf tea without the mess of mesh tea balls, without requiring a sink, and without the hassle of toting teapots back and forth to the kitchen would you be interested?.
I would! Where are those tea fairies????
 
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