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May 28th, '10, 13:17
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Blending and brewing your own tea

by Charles » May 28th, '10, 13:17

Custom blends have been a big hit on the Adagio website. I'm trying to incorporate this same concept into our new retail stores. I've written an article on our plans and would love some feedback.

We're also planning to allow customer to brew their own tea.

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May 28th, '10, 13:24
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Re: Custom blends

by Dresden » May 28th, '10, 13:24

Perhaps set up some kind of stand (kinda like the jelly bean ones) where customers can add scoops of different teas to the same bag. Then just sell it by a predetermined price per pound. :mrgreen:


Jun 1st, '10, 18:06
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Re: Custom blends

by acgourley » Jun 1st, '10, 18:06

That's an innovative idea for sure. However I don't believe this is going to do anything to make people feel more familiar or comfortable with tea. If anything this is more daunting. Now when they walk in they are not only greeted by a wall of tea, but a wall of tea and an option to combine them into endless variations... where to start!

If you're worried about less savvy people, perhaps it would be better to make 3-5 of the most popular products front and center, and only expose the rest to people who start to really check the place out and read the smaller print. Certainly the blends should be something you ease people into.

Following that thought a little farther, it seems like the blends are more for savvy customers who are comfortable in the store. But my intuition is that those people would be drinking the premium or estate tea anyway. So to play devils advocate, I'm not sure this idea will get a lot of traction.

But, if you're seeing success with blended flavors on, then obviously I don't know what I'm talking about.

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Jun 1st, '10, 20:19
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Re: Custom blends

by aya_s » Jun 1st, '10, 20:19

This sounds like a ton of fun. The thing that drew me into tea drinking/exploration was a tea shop that had little containers out in front of each one of their teas so you could pick them up and smell the leaves. It felt very hands-on and made it much easier than picking packages of possibly unfamiliar names and types! It's absolutely more fun and less intimidating than asking a salesperson about the difference between teas.

Last year I took part in an evening make-your-own chai session at a local art museum and it was a huge hit. I hope that your customers find your tea blending station similarly enticing!

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Jun 2nd, '10, 09:52
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Re: Custom blends

by Charles » Jun 2nd, '10, 09:52

@AC - You raise some valid points. The long term value and impact of this concept is uncertain, but it is certainly a bit outside of the box for most tea retailers and worth trying.

Custom Blends accounted for a little over 5% of Adagio's online tea sales in the past year. Not a tremendous amount, but not insignificant by any means. I would think that blending in-store will be much more popular than online since you will be able to actually see and smell the teas rather than just guessing at ratios.

I agree that blending will appeal primarily to existing customers. That said, if we can keep people in the store "playing" with tea, the impression on new tea drinkers or the casual observer will be huge. I don't want tea to be the stuffy, esoteric product it appears to be in many premium specialty tea shops. We'll have the really good stuff too, but those who prefer flavored and fanciful tea blends will be attracted to the custom process.

At the end of the day, the number of people who take advantage of the service is less important than the impression that the offering makes. Shula's Steak House offers a 64 ounce porterhouse. I've never seen anyone order or eat it, but I've heard more people talking about that ridiculous cut of meat than any other plate at any other steak house. ;)

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Jun 4th, '10, 18:26
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Re: Blending and brewing your own tea

by virago_ns » Jun 4th, '10, 18:26

Maybe have 10 "favorite" blends so people can blend their own but still feel confident that they are going to come away with a nice product. It'll introduce them to blending and the next time they might be more likely to try something not on the list. :idea:
A Mongolie grill (create your own stir fry) has a similar thing with their sauces. The have about 2 dozen types of sauces that you can mix to put on your food, however they have a menu of about 10 suggested sauces if you want to combine 3-4 types. It's a huge hit.

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