Distribution Of Tea Has 3 Main Channels

As tea grows in popularity in the United States, channels of distribution are expanding and becoming more efficient. Part of the distribution channel is the tea wholesaler that provides valuable products and services to the tea offering.

The Tea Distribution Channel

Like most food products, tea is distributed through three major channels:

• Retail

• Wholesale

• Distributors


Retail channels deliver tea directly to the consumer for consumption without involvement of a third party. Most retail channels generally involve gourmet markets, high end grocery stores, health food stores. There are other outlets where the consumer can visit and make an informed tea selection.

Retail also includes mail order and the internet equivalent e-commerce shopping. E commerce has grown dramatically as web sites become more informative and selections of quality teas are expanded. E-commerce allows the convenience of shopping at home and has become a highly efficient way to purchase quality tea products.

Distribution Wholesalers

The wholesale channel involves entities that purchase for resale. During this process the wholesaler adds value in a variety of ways. This value is critical for the tea enjoyment of the ultimate consumer and takes many forms. For example:

• Creation of a pleasant environment that creates strong feelings of well being.

• Addition of food items like sandwiches, deserts, fruits etc that complement the tea experience.

• High end fine dining that is complemented by a cup of quality tea.

• Resorts that offer iced tea as a refreshing beverage in idyllic settings.

• Hotels and inns that offer afternoon tea as a scheduled event.

• And many others…..


Distributors operate in a channel different from wholesalers although both channels are resale channels. Many distributors stock inventory and provide account executives who service large reseller like grocery stores and convenience store chains.

Distributors usually have support systems that offer their customers easing ordering and shipment and other efficient ways to do business.

What Value Do Wholesalers Provide?

Furthermore tea wholesalers are all about enhancing the tea experience for the consumer.

The value provided by wholesalers, if added properly, can leverage the well being of the tea experience. Take a quality tea room for example. Customers can enjoy tea in a pleasant setting with attractive decorations, appealing music and complementary sandwiches and other food items.


How many tea drinkers have enjoyed a quality meal, only to be disappointed by a cup of lukewarm low quality tea at the end of the meal.

Or consider the thirsty traveler looking to quench his thirst with  glass of high quality iced tea.

Don’t Overlook Basics In Tea

Overlooking the quality of the basic offering of tea can be disastrous for a tea wholesaler. Tea drinkers in the United States are becoming more discriminating and demanding when it comes to tea quality and taste. Many teas rooms have recognized this fact and focus on quality products. Most have quality service and have created a niche market for their business.

For restaurant wholesalers, loose leaf tea is increasingly offering products that complement fine dining along with many other things. Quality loose leaf tea blended with mint, coconut or oil of bergamot offer the best hot or iced teas.

Preparation and presentation of quality tea is critical to ensure tea drinking satisfaction. Most of those wholesalers who wish to provide the best quality tea must focus on the total tea experience.


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