Tea party: How to brew up healthy profits for your beverage menu

Boasting sky-high profit potential, tea is now the second most popular drink ordered in restaurants.



Teas can be sophisticated or super simple, but at any price point, they fetch hefty profit margins for pizzerias.

Wendigo Tea Co.

 

Marco’s Pizza partnered with a recognized tea brand and kicked off its new beverage option with a slew of marketing materials and promotions.

According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., tea is nearly 5,000 years old—as legend goes, it was discovered in 2737 B.C. by Chinese emperor Shen-Nung when some tea leaves accidentally blew into his pot of boiling water. Fast forward to today, and tea has fittingly ascended to royal status in the beverage world. The association reports it’s the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water, found in almost 80% of all U.S. households; on any given day, 158 million-plus Americans are drinking tea. 

No surprise, then, that big-name pizzerias are adding this beloved brew to the menu. For example, Marco’s Pizza, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, and planning to grow to 1,500 locations by 2020, announced a brand partnership with Pure Leaf Iced Tea over the summer. “In the United States, tea is now the second most popular drink with meals and the second most popular drink ordered in restaurants,” notes John McCauley, senior director of brand marketing for Marco’s Pizza. “And, currently, tea is commanding a 65% growth rate in the foodservice industry.”

With sky-high profit potential, a healthy reputation and varieties galore, tea is indeed an attractive option for restaurants and customers alike. Read on to learn more about how you can start successfully hosting your own pizzeria tea parties.

 

Turning Over a New Leaf

Choosing a tea for your operation depends greatly on your target market. Do you host mostly families with kids in a no-frills setting, or offer artisan pizzas at a premium price? Whatever your position in the marketplace, there’s a tea that fits your concept. And they can be surprisingly sophisticated, even lending themselves to mouthwatering pairings, just like beer or wine.

“In the same way you may enjoy a refreshing beer with your slice or an elegant wine pairing with a pasta dish, an array of different teas can equally elevate the entire dining experience,” explains Sky White, owner of Wendigo Tea Co. in Cincinnati. “You can find plenty of cool black tea varieties that, when iced, taste malty (beer-like) and naturally sweet. White teas commonly have a similar flavor and aromatic notes as white wine. Dark oolongs sometimes smell eerily close to red wine and its oak barrel. There’s a lot of room to have fun with tea in a pizzeria setting, and the flavors are already there—you just have to take the time to find what works best for your establishment.”

 

“In the United States, tea is now the second most popular drink with meals and the second most popular drink ordered in restaurants. Currently, tea is commanding a 65% growth rate in the foodservice industry.”
—John McCauley, Marco’s Pizza

 

Hot teas can be ideal before- or after-dinner sippers when temperatures dip and customers crave some comforting warmth.

Even better, White adds, tea has one of the highest profit margins in the restaurant industry, with an average wholesale cost per serving between 5 and 20 cents, making even upscale options affordable. “The real battle I face as a tea professional is trying to convince restaurants to make that jump from charging $2 for a bottomless glass of low-grade, tasteless tea to spending a few more cents in order to serve a signature, world-class beverage,” White says. “Especially if fine wine or craft beer and cocktails are already being served, customers are willing to spend more for higher-quality drinks, so a $2 bottomless tea can turn into $3.50 or more per serving.” For example, one of the restaurants White works with charges $5 for a finely crafted iced matcha latte, while a high-traffic Asian restaurant pumps out hundreds of $3.50 iced imperial jasmine teas daily.

Alternatively, you can partner with a commercially recognized tea brand, as Marco’s did when rolling out its summertime tea promotion. “Marco’s Pizza offers a premium pizza product, created with high-quality, authentic ingredients, and Pure Leaf is also recognized as a premium brand, which aligns well with Marco’s quality position,” McCauley says. “Pure Leaf has one of the highest perceived values with consumers, and that resonated well with our own mission.”

In addition, the pizzeria decided to offer a 64-ounce bottle—a perfect alternative to 2-liter containers, the most common delivered drink size for pizzerias. A helpful tip: Before partnering with a company, inquire about the support it can offer, such as branded marketing materials to encourage sales.

 

Marketing to a Tea

At Marco’s, marketing for the new tea offering was carefully crafted to make a splash with summer customers. The company promoted its 64-ounce bottles with a limited-time Ultimate Magnifico Pizza through all of its promotional efforts, encouraging consumers to have the “Ultimate Magnifico Summer.” In the promo, starting in late June and running through the end of August, more than 800 Marco’s Pizza locations around the country offered a large Ultimate Magnifico Pizza (featuring two types each of pepperoni and sausage) paired with a 64-ounce Pure Leaf Iced Tea for $12.99 (the tea was advertised as free to encourage sampling). “This was promoted in print, radio, television and digital campaign elements, as well as POP signage,” McCauley explains. “On social media, we also gave fans a chance to win Summer Par-Tea Packs when they shared photos of how they’re having the Ultimate Magnifico Summer—at the beach, the pool, the park, etc.—and our favorite photos won a pizza par-tea, on us.”

 

“If fine wine or craft beer and cocktails are already being served, customers are willing to spend more for higher-quality drinks, so a $2 bottomless tea can turn into $3.50 or more per serving.”
—Sky White, Wendigo Tea Co.

 

Don’t forget to employ server suggestion and sampling inside the pizzeria—thanks to tea’s low cost, you won’t break the bank by giving out sip-sized cups of your latest tea varieties. You can also use social media or e-newsletters to discuss the health and environmental benefits of tea. For example, the Tea Association of the U.S.A. reports that it’s an all-natural product from a renewable source; contains no sodium, fat, carbonation or sugar (and virtually no calories); boasts flavonoids, believed to have antioxidant properties; and is naturally low in caffeine. 

The takeaway: With the right marketing and brand partnership, teas can quickly become a stellar seller among customers of any demographic. Choose a blend that boosts your bottom line, spread the word and watch the profits start a-brewing! 

 

A Tea-Totaller’s Dream

From VitaminWater to protein shakes, Americans love a nutrient boost in their beverages, and a new line of tea aims to fill that need: Tetley SuperTeas boast six flavors that provide 20% of the daily recommended intake of vitamins, designed to offer specific benefits, from the herbal Glow to Metabolism Berry. Use their recipes for your own healthy blends—or simply for iced tea inspiration!

 

Beachy Glow in a Glass

4 Tetley Glow Tea bags
4 c. filtered water
Honey simple syrup to taste (2 parts honey to 1 part water, splash of vanilla extract)
6-oz. can pineapple juice
½ pineapple, chopped
½ medium mango, chopped

Steep the tea bags in a pitcher with boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Stir in pineapple juice and honey simple syrup to taste. Add the chopped pineapple and mango. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 hours and serve over ice.

 

Berry Citrus Splash

4 Tetley Metabolism Berry Tea bags
4 c. filtered water
Honey simple syrup to taste (2 parts honey to 1 part water, splash of vanilla extract)
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 package blueberries 

Steep the tea bags in a pitcher with boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Stir in honey simple syrup to taste. Add the orange, lime and blueberries. Let the mixture sit for 1-2 hours and serve over ice.

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.

 

 

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