Gethin Evans of the Café Society guest blogs for Tetley Tea Academy to celebrate the launch of the Tetley Afternoon Tea Experience Challenge.
"Modern life rarely offers the chance to stop and savour the food and drink we enjoy, instead encouraging us to quickly grab nourishment while we are on the move.
"Taking a moment to savour and appreciate what we consume is increasingly viewed as a luxury, but one we are still willing to make time for. This has driven the revival of afternoon tea – a traditional occasion where people have the chance to enjoy the food and drink they love.
"Tetley and the Café Society have teamed up to host the inaugural Afternoon Tea Experience Challenge, a unique competition for cafes in the UK to showcase combinations of sweet and savoury foods with the blends that suit them best.
"Creating a foodservice concept using complementary items encourages consumers to spend more and adds value by creating a 'theme' that customers can appreciate. Latest figures from the British Sandwich Association show that more than one third of consumers buy a hot beverage to accompany a sandwich purchase, and a quarter will match up a cake or pastry with that sandwich.
"Perhaps as a result of the credit crunch, UK consumers now want operators to deliver increased value in return for their spend. Afternoon tea is about creating a 'treat when we eat', and crafting a carefully tailored experience around the culinary delights on offer.
"Because consumers spend more time over their afternoon tea and expect to take more pleasure in it, attention to detail and elegant and interesting presentation are at the heart of what makes it special. Delicate vintage cake stands that have been treasured for generations are often used, creating a higher value perception.
"The Afternoon Tea Experience Challenge is poised to inspire operators around the UK, as well as delighting consumers who have rediscovered this classic pastime. Along with the rest of the café industry, I look forward to seeing the results."
Gethin Evans is PR manager at the Café Society, keeping suppliers and operators aware of the latest trends in the industry and working to enhance the consumer experience.
The Café Society promotes the development of the café environment in the UK and encourages high standards in all aspect of the business.