How to start & operate a tea room

Written by linda ray Google
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While much of the world is obsessed with coffee and coffee houses, you can join the growing trend for tea. The Tea Association of America predicts that income from tea rooms will exceed £6 billion by 2010. A tea room can be a unique and successful enterprise if it is located in the right place, and it can provide a soothing atmosphere while giving patrons a variety of teas to try and enjoy.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Building
  • Tables and chairs
  • Business license
  • Tax ID
  • Permits
  • Tea
  • Snacks
  • Certifications

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  1. 1

    Find a building to house your business. Look for a small storefront in a location that attracts walkers and shoppers. The storefront of a tea house should be inviting to people in search of respite from their everyday activities. You can develop a following of patrons once they discover your tea room, but you can also use the prime space to draw in customers attracted to the ambience that the business exudes.

  2. 2

    Apply for a business license from your local state department. Check with the Secretary of State to find out which licenses are required in your area. Get a tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service and apply for building permits from your municipality. To get permits to sell food and beverages, food service inspections by the local health department are required. Make sure that your water boiling, cooking and cleaning equipments are clean and operable before the inspection.

  3. 3

    Purchase tea and tea-making supplies and equipment from a vendor that serves the industry. Look for wholesale suppliers such as those promoted by the Tea Entrepreneurs Association, a group that brings tea room owners together to share resources, ideas and vendor reviews. Buy large stainless water boiling units as well as carafs and pitchers to hold prepared teas. Find trade shows and training seminars through the organisation as well as leads to suppliers.

  4. 4

    Decide on a theme for the operation and furnish the tea room accordingly. Tea rooms can have an Oriental or Victorian flair, be more homey and eclectic or offer a New Age motif. Find snacks that complement the style. For example, if you are leaning toward a more Victorian afternoon tea experience, supply guests with scones, petit fours and small sandwiches to snack on with their tea.

  5. 5

    Hold events such as talks from experts about teas, book readings or small musical acts to draw new customers to your business. Provide coupons in local mailers and contact the local newspaper to write about the unique shop that you just opened.

Tips and warnings

  • Take classes to obtain the tea specialist certification from the Tea Association of America. Doing this will boost your credibility as a connoisseur on the various kinds of teas and the best way of making and serving them.
  • Teacups are fragile dishes that are easy to break and chip. Develop a smooth process for cleaning the cups and saucers and find a good supplier of teacups, because the cups will need to be replaced on a regular basis.

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