Two European tea manufacturers have come up with new ideas to overcome the problem of handling spent teabags, which is a continuing cause of complaint in the hotel and restaurant trades.
Although many tea suppliers now say their bags are of very high quality, many cafés and even top restaurants still serve tea with a bag floating around in it and give the customer no help in fishing it out. One of the new ideas addresses tea served at the table in a cup, while the other concentrates on takeaway mugs.
The table-service idea comes from Ronnefeldt, a German company which trades with many top hotels and is distributed here by Christine Collins at Cup of Tea from Bath.
The Leaf Cup idea involves a long and slender tea-bag, with a well designed header card that carries details of the tea, and even the suggested time for which it should be left to brew.
The card is left on the side of the cup, where it hooks into the handle, and can be easily removed.
It is possible to serve a premium tea in a bag, but leaving it inside the cup suggests that the server has been careless and runs the risk of the making the customer feel resentful about paying a premium price.
In this case, the maker suggests that the card works to enhance the idea that the tea really is ‘special', and helps to justify a good selling price.
Meanwhile, Halssen and Lyon have launched a Tea to Go product, which they believe will create an added-value opportunity for beverage operators with a takeaway business. It has already made an appearance in the trade after being used in the refreshment bar at the recent Allegra symposium.
Takeaway tea is a well-known headache for caterers and cafés. Tea is easy to brew but is difficult to serve to a takeaway customer base so the sector remains largely undeveloped.
Halssen and Lyon have now said that, as tea drinkers do not get as much of a choice in takeaway products as coffee drinkers, there is a need for a new product that makes life easier for the caterer and allows more choice for the customer.
The concept is of a teabag that brews in the takeaway cup. However, says Hallsen and Lyon, the big question for takeaway tea drinkers is always ‘What do I do with the teabag?' The answer, says the company, is to ‘put it in the lid'.
The system is based on a certain kind of lid which fits over the cup or mug. This lid has the usual sip-through hole at one side, but directly opposite it is a slot about two inches wide.
The operator draws the card which holds the teabag part of the way through the slot, thus allowing the teabag to drop down into the hot water in the mug and brew. A few minutes later, the customer pulls the card further through the slot, which has the effect of lifting the teabag out of the hot water and into a holding recess in the lid. The bag and lid are thrown away together.
By Ian Boughton