Preparing a quality tea from Art of Tea does not stop after the brew cycle has finished or even after your customer has consumed every last drop. One of the most overlooked parts of a premium iced tea program is cleaning the tea brewing equipment.
Cleaning, in fact, should be the top concern on any operator’s mind because it directly correlates to food safety. We all know that the Health Department regulations state that tea should be stored at room temperature for no more than 8 hours. This means that if you are open for lunch and dinner, you should be brewing a minimum of twice per day. We also know that storing tea in a refrigerator chemically changes the antioxidant properties of the tea, which produces off tastes. This is due to a cold reaction with the minerals in the water (which are needed during the extraction process) and the polyphenols found in the tea. However, many of us may not know that these same regulations state “Tea brewing and storage equipment should be cleaned and sanitized at least once a day…”1 This statement is important because it states:
- What equipment = the tea brewer (including the brew basket, spray head area, etc.) and the dispenser (faucet, faucet shank, internal walls, lid, etc.)
- What process = both clean and sanitize
- How often = at least once a day
But beyond needing to clean due to Health Department regulations for food safety, it is also important to follow these steps from a quality stand point. Dirty equipment is the second reason why tea tastes “off” or has a cloudy appearance; the first reason being water quality (which we discussed in a previous article). Dirty equipment can lead to the growth of pathogens that can potentially sicken the customer. Dirty equipment can also reduce the quality of the overall beverage, leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Remember, often times tea is the first and last impression your guest has of your restaurant, and we want to make sure it is of a quality, tasty tea beverage.
Urnex has developed two simple solutions to answer this challenge — Tabz Tea Clean and 1–2-Tea. The Tabz Tea Clean product allows for a simple “clean in place” (CIP) solution that is not only formulated to clean specific tea oils and buildup but also to sanitize. Simply place the correct number of tablets in the brew basket (4 for 3 gallons), brew, rinse and air dry. This product cleans not only the dispenser but the overlooked brew basket as well. When emptied through the faucet, this cleaner reduces the number of times needed to remove and clean the faucet to about once a month. The 1–2-Tea product is a newly introduced packaged cleaner and EPA sanitizer specifically formulated for tea dispensing equipment. This product is designed to thoroughly clean and sanitize the dispenser in a 2-step process. Step 1 uses the Clearly Cleaner product to remove those pesky tea stains in the dispenser; while step 2 uses the Complete Café product to sanitize the dispenser. This pre-portioned packet type product allows for easy control dosing to ensure you reach the proper part per million (ppm) of sanitation each time. Whatever product you choose to maintain your tea equipment, whether an Urnex product or another brand, it is important that the product both cleans and sanitizes. It is also important that your daily cleaning checklist includes all the tea contact surfaces of the equipment (dispenser, faucet, brew basket, spray head, etc.)
When training any new staff members on the tea offering, restaurant operators need to ensure that they also make sure to cover the importance of cleaning the tea equipment. When staff understands the reasoning behind the process and the importance not only to food safety, but to the restaurant’s overall top line, they tend to make an extra effort to maintain, clean and sanitize the equipment.
Your quality iced tea program is not complete unless you ensure your tea equipment is properly cleaned and sanitized. Don’t lose customers because your equipment wasn’t properly maintained. Tea is the most profitable item on your menu with gross margins in the high nineties. We at Art of Tea are here to help you. Contact us today so we can support your efforts to drive top line revenue to a quality tea beverage program.
1 Environmental Health Department’s Iced Tea Brewing and Storage Guide
View a copy of the water quality article by clicking here.
Art of Tea is an award winning purveyor of specialty and organic teas, based in Los Angeles, CA.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with coworkers, colleagues, and fellow lovers of tea.