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The Frozen Drinks Odyssey

By Lynn Merriam

Frozen drinks are not just for coffeehouses anymore. Lattes and flavors can help improve tea sales, also.

Frozen specialty drinks were once only a coffeehouse phenomenon, but if you are the owner of a teahouse and you haven’t started serving them, they should now be on your horizon.

The public’s desire to have ice blended drinks of all types continues to grow. Frappe style drinks can account for up to 50% of coffeehouse revenue. The price points for these drinks are sizeable and the profit margin is substantial. Remember tea and coffee are sister beverages, and it doesn’t hurt to borrow great ideas from coffeehouses that will work for you. Ice blended tea drinks are one of them. Even Starbucks has gotten in on the trend; they now have a tea latte program.

Drink Tastings
Original blended tea latte
  • Pour 6 ounces chilled tea toddy
       (of choice) into blender canister.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Vanilla Latte powder
  • Add 8-10 ounces of ice
  • Blend until creamy
  • There are many tools that can attract customers into your store. Sampling is the first step in marketing these drinks to your regular and potential patrons. People need the personal experience of tasting, and sampling is a proven method to tempt your customer.

    Daily Drink Special
    Tantalize your customers with a daily drink special. You can advertise your special by simply using a chalkboard. Don’t be afraid to invent new drinks. Encourage your staff to come up with new ideas. For example, try a chocolate mint tea latte, or Almond tea latte, since both can be made hot or frozen. Try creating a variety of tea smoothies. You are only limited by your imagination.

    Staff Training
    Chocolate Mint blended tea latte
  • Pour 5 ounces chilled peppermint
       tea toddy into blender canister.
  • Add 1/2 cup of Vanilla Latte powder
  • Add 1 ounce chocolate syrup
  • Add 8-10 ounces of ice
  • Blend until creamy.
  • Pulse in 1 tablespoon of chocolate
       chips if desired. - YUM!
  • Now that you are onboard, your staff needs to be trained. Consistency in preparation and quality are the keys to a successful frozen drink program. Above all, if you are not enthusiastic about these drinks, then you need to find someone in your organization that is. Encourage them to experiment. Turn this program over to him or her. If you are excited about this new drink program, you will naturally fill your staff and customers with that same enthusiasm. Lastly, this requires a long-term commitment while you re-educate your consumer.

    Creating the Perfect Ice Blended Tea Latte
    Tea lattes start with the base. Either a pre-made base, including the tea and flavorings, or a neutral base used to create the creamy texture and sweetness associated with ice-blended drinks. Pre-made bases ensure an ease of preparation, as well as some consistency. If you use a neutral base with your own brewed tea, it takes a little more preparation and experimentation to find the exact recipe that will work for you. The stronger the teas profile the better. To ensure that the tea is not bitter, it is best to brew your tea by filling a container with purified water, then add the tea of choice and let sit overnight, creating a tea toddy. Draining off the tea in the morning. The amount of tea used for each profile will take some individual testing. Once you have your toddy, use it in conjunction with the neutral tea latte base.

    Cool Trends
    There is no better time to start thinking about whether your current beverage offerings will satisfy your customers needs for something cold and refreshing than during the heat of the summer months. Ice blended Matcha and Chai are the trendy drinks of the moment. Rooibos, known as redbush tea, is also in style. For now -- in the cold of winter -- don’t forget that all of these tea lattes can be made hot.

    About the Author: Lynn Merriam is one of the owners of Java Frost, LLC. Lynn was the owner of Kalamazoo Restaurant in British Columbia, Canada, which was voted one of the top ten restaurants in “Beautiful BC Magazine.” She wrote a cookbook for boaters, entitled, “The Galley Companion,” and also owned Full of Beans Coffeehouse, before starting Java Frost in 1995.


    Tea & Coffee - February/March, 2006
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