Tea subscription services are taking inspiration from tea houses, with entrepreneurs bringing family businesses online. Barbara Soley helped bring Jacqueline’s Teas to fruition after her mother, Jacqueline, retired last July from running a British-style tea restaurant that had served her local area since 2005. The space had formed a community of its own, with diners coming back time and again for tea, finger sandwiches, scones and desserts. Soley channeled that experience into Jacqueline’s Teas, which plans to go live this month with different tea subscription options.
Beyond Jacqueline’s Teas – and beyond teas in general – companies have turned to the subscription model for other hot beverages, such as coffee. Driftaway, for instance, offers fresh, single-origin coffee subscriptions based on taste profiles that it builds for customers. Its founder was inspired to create the profile after learning that customers weren’t good about articulating what they wanted. Another company, Dripkit, provides coffee subscriptions and one-time purchases of portable coffee filters. It was inspired by its co-founders, who were looking for a convenient way to bring coffee to work.
In the case of Jacqueline’s Teas, Soley’s subscription offerings were inspired by her mother’s tea house: Soley estimates that she interviewed a couple dozen of the biggest fans of her mother’s business and asked them what they loved most about the place. She then used the feedback to create different subscription offerings. “It’s grown into five different subscription options that package up [the] greatest elements of the British afternoon tea experience,” Soley said.
One point of feedback was that customers loved the way the shop was planned and curated – and the food that was served. As a result, the Jacqueline’s Teas subscription offering matches seasonal teas with recipes for soups and desserts.
Another option, the tea sommelier subscription, includes white, green, oolong, black, rooibos and botanical teas. That offering came from feedback that customers loved learning about teas. “They would come into the tea room and learn all about tea in the process,” Soley said. Customers can receive a box with one type of tea one month and another type the next month.
And, with customizable subscriptions, customers of can choose between the type of tea – such as black teas, light teas or caffeine-free teas – and preferences like flavored and unflavored. Customers can update the subscription based on their preferences and change between different varieties.
“I wanted to make sure people would never be without tea,” Soley said. Ideally, customers would subscribe for a full year and get teas delivered once a month, but she decided to provide more options to make her offerings more accessible. The six-month option, for instance, was based on the idea that six months of tea could make a nice gift, but she also wanted to provide more choices and flexibility to consumers.
Subscribers can choose between a monthly subscription or discounted longer-term subscriptions of six months or a year. The Tea option is a six-month subscription. Soley said the hope is that someone starts off with the Tea Sommelier to learn about the different types of teas. From there, a customer might go to, say, a black tea flavored subscription or a seasonal subscription.
Soley also wanted to offer a month-to-month subscription in case a customer wanted to try one of the subscriptions without committing to a full-year, or wanted to switch from one plan to another.
For payments, Jacqueline’s Teas uses Shopify, along with a plugin called ReCharge that Soley said pairs the platform and makes the subscription process particularly easy. Through the site, the company accepts major credit cards along with digital wallets, among other options.
For now, Soley said her primary audience is customers from the tea room. She wants to ensure that the most loyal customers are happy and that their needs are being met. “My goal is for them to open up the tea package and have an experience in their home that hopefully reminds them of the experience of being in the tea room,” she said. After those customers are satisfied, she plans to branch out and reach other people who are open to learning more about tea and creating their own tea ritual experience – with the help of a subscription.