Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

5 Twists on Tea Leverage the booming tea category and make it your own

Building on the menu momentum of creative tea-inspired drinks, kombucha carries a cool factor.

Consumers are embracing the modern tea culture in much the same way they did coffee a number of years back. And just as we’re seeing with all beverage categories, their expectations for intriguing, creative flavor combinations is at an all-time high. Here are five ways to expand your operation’s tea offerings:

Sparkling Tea

Add a bit of artisan fizz for pizzazz to cold tea drinks, whether alcoholic or not.

  • Autumn Spiced Sparkling Tea with cranberry, lime and cane sugar
    True Food Kitchen, based in Phoenix
  • Sparkling Black Tea and Tangerine Juice
    Starbucks, based in Seattle

Tea Cocktails

Tea offers depth to cocktails, along with fruity, herbaceous or smoky notes, lengthening cocktails while balancing flavors, too.

  • Jalisco Campfire: Lapsang souchong, tequila, agave, Thai chile and lime
    Joule, Seattle
  • (C)hai Tea with bourbon, chai, steamed milk and citrus
    Logan Tavern, Chicago


Part of the functional ingredient movement, kombucha is giving backbone to drinks—even boozy ones. This fermented, lightly effervescent black or green tea offers the promise of good bacteria—along with a healthy dose of coolness.

  • SCOBY Snack: Citadelle gin, Frog Juice kombucha, grapefruit and sparkling rosé
    Cindy’s, Chicago
  • The Pink Promise: Sangria with kombucha
    Revelator Coffee Company, based in Atlanta

Fruit-infused Tea

Fruit infusions in tea make it a refreshing, delicious nonalcoholic offering. Fruit purées, garnishes and handcrafted combinations mark the trend, elevating iced tea to signature status. Offering both freshness and seasonal cues, the options are endless, from raspberry or guava purée to marionberry or rhubarb.

  • Fruit-infused teas: Choose from raspberry, passionfruit and peach
    Panda Express, based in Rosemead, Calif.
  • Black cherry iced tea
    McAlister’s, based in Atlanta

Coffee-inspired Teas

The trend in specialty tea drinks is bolstered by our love of specialty coffee drinks—customers are familiar and comfortable with the coffee vernacular, so exotic teas are easing into the scene by adopting those easy-to-understand profiles like lattes and mochas

  • Earl Grey Latte
    Woodberry Kitchen, Baltimore
  • Hazelnut Rooibos Tea Latte
    Teaffee, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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About The Author


Katie Ayoub serves as managing editor of Flavor & The Menu and content strategist for the Flavor Experience, an annual conference geared toward chain operators. She is president of Katie Ayoub & Associates, serving up menu trends expertise, content creation and food & beverage consultancy. Based in Chicago, Katie has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 20 years and part of the Flavor team since 2006. [email protected]