Perfect Tea

How to offer a perfect tea

March 25, 2020

When it comes to serving tea to cruise passengers, it’s important to offer quality as well as quantity. Jessica Pook talks to an expert

Afternoon tea is one of the most popular occasions on ocean liners, so great delivery is key to passenger satisfaction. Cruise companies clearly have an advantage over airlines with this in that they are less restricted by space and weight, allowing for more choice. But staff must still ensure tea is well stocked and offered at a consistent temperature. And traditional teas should be served at different strengths – one pot strong, one medium – as well as including herbal and fruit options.

Lucy Chappell, tea taster at Twinings, has trained staff onboard Saga ships. She says: “Every guest is different when it comes to their choice in tea and how they like it made. So many times I have seen too many teabags put into a pot and left to stew for the whole service. By having different strengths of tea pre-made we can ensure great tea consistently.”

The main challenge is the sheer volume of tea that is consumed and the different services. Says Chappell: “For example, breakfast is generally self-serve teabags as part of a buffet, but First Class should be loose leaf and white glove service, no less. There’s also the premium option of whole leaf in a pyramid bags, and don’t forget the tea needs of the bars, cafes, restaurants, rooms and staff.”

Tea is emotive. It can help to calm passengers, help digestion and even reduce sea sickness, says Chappell. “It is extremely important to get the tea service right so that guests feels at home. By simply asking: ‘What tea would you like?’ or: ‘How would you like your tea?’ crew can create a more personal experience for the passenger and show they care.”

The tea itself should be the main event and not just an afterthought. Chappell adds: “People are very particular when it comes to tea. It’s important to choose a brand that reflects the cruise line. Cunard, TUI and Saga all offer Twinings, a brand that is associated with quality. It’s also important to choose sandwiches that pair well with the body of the tea to balance the flavours.”