Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Big Tea Idea

A commenter mentioned an old idea I had about tea, so I figure I'll lay it out.

Starbucks is massive. People have totally gotten used to paying $2-$6 for a beverage. However, coffee is bad for you. And hot on the heels of the coffee trend is something diamtrically opposed to it: The all-natural-home-grown-organically-farmed-over-priced-but-we'll-still-buy-it-
because-it's-supposed-to-be-good-for-you trend.

Also hot right now is anything Asian. Japanese to be exact. So what's my point?

Mix Starbucks, health food, and asia, and what do you get?


"Wait just a minute," you say, "Starubucks already has tea". My answer? No they don't. If they treated coffee like they treat tea they wouldn't be in business. All they do now is give you a cup of microwaved water and a crusty old tea bag.

Think of this. You go into a starbucks-like cafe. On the board are several choices that are there all the time. Call them "neccesiTEAS". Basic white tea, black tea, oolong tea, green tea, and such.

Move on to more exotic leaves. Call them "varieTEAS".

Move on to the most expensive teas you can find. Those, of course, are the "RariTEAS".

Then, there are the special mixed tea drinks. "DiversiTEAS"

But this idea is not about cute names. When you pick your tea, the employee opens a vacuum sealed tin with fresh loose leaves in it. He lets you smell the leaves. Makes you feel like a connoisseur sampling the fragrance of a wine cork. He then places the right amount of leaves in an individual infuser, sets the timer (built into the infuser) and sets it on the "tea bar" next to all the other teas that are steeping.

You then wait two minutes, and when it beeps (or pulsates, of course), you set the infuser on the cup next to it, it strains your tea into the cup, and you go on your merry way.

Just think of it. A completely organic store. No microwaves or other machinery. Just a very natural looking bar that is about chest high with several different teas beautifully infusing with the leaves blossoming and falling inside, the soothing music and lights, the hip chatter from like-minded customers watching the magic.

In England, tea is just too huge to imagine. It's actually quite amazing that America hasn't caught on yet. But we can't do it the English way with milk and crumpets. It must be my way. The American way. The Starbucks way.


Aaron Corsi said...

Ha! Dude, I could totally see myself wasting a ton of money on that... and for some reason I still want it. Very, very badly.

(By the way, not only is coffee an appetite supressant, studies have shown that caffiene will make you smarter. Sure, that still doesn't qualify as healthy but baby steps my friend.)

More Ideas Than Time said...

Ah, but that's the beautiful part, tea has caffiene, too (in smaller quantities, I know).

getgreg said...

This idea reminds me of Teaism, a beautiful tea house in Washington DC. It's an amazing place and a tea drinker's heaven. In fact they have so many options that it's a bit overwhelming at first. I'm sure there are similar places in big cities as well.

So it could be only a matter of time before one of these tea houses has the right customer experience formula and business aspirations to explode (almost) like Starbucks.

In some ways the tea business has already blown up, but it was bubble tea instead of traditional hot tea.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. Call me crazy but there's something much more romantic about sharing hot tea...

Anonymous said...

This is a really great idea. I agree that tea is really under-thought and under-represented as a way of getting people together (and spending money!) There are independent tea places like Teaism, the Spotted Cow in Portland, The Bourgeois Pig in Chicago (what's with all the animals?), but a place like what you're describing would be more about the tea, which is rare indeed. My only quibble is that I like my tea a certain strength, and the 2-5 minute infusion time is often too long, so perhaps different times for different strengths.