4 Ways To Serve Iced Tea In A Location

Oct. 27, 2015

In 2014, Americans consumed more than 80 billion servings of tea, the Tea Association of the U.S.A. reports. In fact, tea took bottled water’s spot as the third-most consumed beverage behind coffee and tap water in the U.S. according to the National Coffee Association.

Tea is a segment that helps operators expand coffee service offerings, and that includes both hot and iced teas. Iced tea is a popular offering for some operators and here are four ways in which it can be served in a location:

As with coffee, operators need to be sure to offer allied products to go alongside a customer’s beverage. For iced tea that might include offering a sweetener, which is a natural pairing for the drink. And of course, you can’t forget the ice!

1. Ready-to-drink: Over the last ten years, ready-to-drink tea (bottled tea) has grown more than 15 fold, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. In 2014, ready-to-drink sales were estimated to be more than $5.2 billion. Ready-to-drink teas work best in micro market locations, as the product is sealed. When products are unsealed and unmanned in micro markets, the market may be classified as a convenience store and may be frowned upon by health departments. Some operators have markets with cafeterias where they have limited, manned hours and so they have the option of offering other types of iced tea during those manned hours. However, for unmanned micro markets, ready-to-drink iced tea is an operator’s best bet.

2. Commercial iced tea brewers: For medium and large office locations, many operators report using commercial iced tea brewers. Operators provide the brewers and tea to a location and the location is responsible for brewing the beverage. “One way I offer iced tea in offices is freshly brewed into three-gallon dispensers, then with an ice machine,” said one Illinois operator. “If the tea is not used, it can go into a refrigerator overnight for up to three days before it should be dumped.” Operators can offer both sweetened and unsweetened teas in a variety of flavors depending on location preferences. Consumers can also customize their tea experience by adding sweeteners, making commercial iced tea brewers a natural fit for locations.

3. Iced tea concentrate: The challenge in office coffee service has always been getting someone in the office to actually make the fresh-brewed tea, said one national operator, so liquid concentrate tea products have been a fast-growing trend in offices. Not only are liquid concentrates self-serving, but they also come in sweetened and flavored varieties. Bag-n-Box tea is also a popular way to offer iced tea as it consists of very little maintenance, cleaning and no brewing.

4. Single-serve brewers: As in the coffee segment, single-serve brew-over-ice tea is a popular and convenient way of offering iced tea to locations. Consumers have the option of choosing their own specific brand or flavor of iced tea. This option also allows the consumer to brew at his or her leisure; something that operators note is a plus in some locations.

The ways in which an operator offers iced tea is dependent on region, location (micro market vs. vending) and employee size and ranges from ready-to-drink bottles to single-serve brewers. Regardless of how an operator offers iced tea, it is a product that fulfills consumers’ cravings.