Specialty Tea is the


Canada’s leading franchised specialty coffee retailer last week unveiled a national television campaign promoting eight specialty teas.

A television spot by Mississauga-based Second Cup Ltd. highlights eight colorful new whole leaf teas and tisanes served in poly pyramid bags at the company’s 360 cafes.

"We are proud to offer a more premium, better tasting tea that is sustainably resourced while contributing to a better customer experience," says Stacey Mowbray, President and CEO of Second Cup.

"Our company has fully embraced the opportunity to align our teas to the same quality standards of our brewed coffee. We are confident that our new line will reinvigorate tea sales,” says Mowbray.
Tea sales are under-indexed according to the company which reported $25.2 million in 2010 revenue and will open 25-30 new cafes in 2011.

Ceiling Poster

Specialty tea consumption has climbed quickly and is broad-based enough to justify the expense of 15-second commercials, says Patrick Russell, Product Developer and the blender responsible for “rejuvenating” the tea platform.

Second Cup has changed its tea platform three times since the early 1990s in what Russell describes as a “natural progression from CTC in paper bags to a private label program and then whole leaf.” The latest offerings are Rainforest Alliance certified and conform to the Ethical Tea Partnership guidelines, says Russell.

“Recent research suggests that the average Canadian drinks two coffees a day, but also drinks one tea, and that 44 percent of people here had tea yesterday,” says Russell.

Tea is a good fit for a coffee shop, he says. “In addition to shared consumption, there is an obvious and strong movement towards tea drinking and experimentation. This is in part driven by the association of tea with health messaging, changing demographics, (including an aging baby boom generation) and an increase in new customers that come from traditional tea consuming countries,” says Russell.

Tea Pedigree

English Breakfast and Decaf – A traditional invigorating full-bodied black tea from India and Kenya.

Earl Grey – a combination of whole leaf black tea and green tea with bergamot flavors, a hint of mandarin orange and rose petals.

Chai – Whole leaf black tea from India with exotic spice notes of cinnamon bark, cardamom seed, ginger root, clove and black pepper.

Wildberry – A juicy, fruity and sweet beverage that blends flowers, fruit and a little black tea to produce a ruby red berry flavored tea.

Green – A custom blend of whole leaf green teas including a Chunmee from China and a Chamraj from South India; delivers a toasted and nutty flavor with a lingering sweet aftertaste.

Jasmine – A delicious blend of whole leaf green teas from China and India, and includes dried, fragrant Jasmine flowers in the tea sachet.

Chamomile – A light and delicate herbal tisane that is soothing and serene, combining orange peel, chamomile and rooibos.

Mint – A lively, invigorating herbal tisane made from select peppermint and spearmint leaves with a touch of lemon grass, orange peel and chamomile to brighten the cup.

Holiday Blend – A holiday favorite for many years, this festive blend features fine black teas infused with hints of cherry and orange. Rich and lightly spicy.

To learn more visit www.secondcup.com or find Second Cup on Facebook and Twitter. Check out all the Second Cup's TV commercials.

“These forces have joined with a growing demand for small luxuries in life that resonate with personal demands for healthy natural products which is why our super premium tea offerings are the perfect fit,” says Russell who spent a year selecting the teas and supporting the development of a company-wide training program to make sure the bag-in service includes an opportunity for associates to answer customer questions.

Canada is a nation of hot tea drinkers and home to several fast-growing tea retail chains. Canadians drank 380 million foodservice servings of hot tea last year. Sixty percent of the population drinks tea, averaging 6.6 cups per week with almost 30 percent steeping more than 15 cups per week. The specialty category enjoys 3.5 percent growth according to NPD Group/CREST®.

“The tea is the hero in this campaign. Not people enjoying tea — the teas themselves,” Russell says proudly. “It took a year to get it right and it is something we are all behind,” he says. The commercials air for six weeks. The company simultaneously launched a Facebook, YouTube and Twitter campaign and will make extensive use of social media promotions. The program features extensive in-store supporting materials.

Teas are priced regionally at $1.90 or $1.95 for any size, with both English Breakfast and Wildberry available as brewed iced tea. Extraction temperatures vary from 190- to 195-degrees depending on the hot water delivery system available in cafe. Preparation is no more laborious than other beverages and as such is not more costly in terms of labor, according to the company.

The firm’s 4,000 associates were trained to properly steep and serve these teas and to help customers migrate through the portfolio. They can all explain the basics, where the tea is from, what is different about the oxidation but they are not trained to the level of Canadian Tea Association sommeliers. “This all about guest service,” says Russell, “we make sure associates take into account our guest’s mood, energy and flavor preference when helping select what is right for them.”

The eight teas, a holiday blend and a tisane (described in detail at right) establish a baseline of quality, representing different families of tea, explains Russell. Blends are authentic but distinct. The breakfast tea blend, for example, contains expensive Darjeeling tea from India. The decaffeinated version uses the more expensive liquid CO2 method of extraction to avoid solvent residue. Teas are overwrapped in a foil sachet, 12 to a box. He prefers compostable bags to poly, says Russell, but pyramids made of plant-based materials didn’t seal reliably.

As to starring in the commercial, Russell admits “the blush factor is high, but we wanted to be able to tell the story from our perspective. My colleagues who appear in the spot really do talk about how excited we are about the teas we are bringing in.”

Additional teas will be added in the months ahead, says Russell, who is eager to add a white tea to the lineup. But, before he does, “we intend to listen closely to what the market will tell us,” he says.

Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.