I'm looking at starting a new coffee/tea bar and I could really do with your help! I want to focus on a large variety of high quality tea, instead of focussing on coffees, like most other places do. Having said that, I love coffee too and will also be serving the usual americano, cappuccino etc.
Tea is the second most popular drink (after water) in terms of amount consumed per day, yet costa and starbucks etc serve much more coffee than tea. What I would like to know is what would make you buy a tea (or derivative of tea) drink, or what's wrong with tea?
Although tea is the second most popular drink worldwide, it is about the 6th most popular in the US whereas coffee is #2 in the US. So that is why more coffee is being served than tea. However, it is also true that coffee consumption is going down each year and tea consumption is going up in the US. I can't remember the exact numbers but coffee is around 23% and dropping and tea is at 9% and climbing.
Now, to your question,
1. Selling coffee and tea at the same place is problematic because the smell of coffee negatively impacts tea. The reason is that coffee has stronger smells and tea is delicate so selling the two in the same place creates a quality control issue. This is why you should not store your tea near your coffee at home or near other strong odors like onions. When I hear about a tea and coffee place, I have the belief that such a place will not serve good tea from the outset.
2. Don't reinvent the wheel. See what tea shops are working and see if that same plan could work in your area. For example, Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco seems to do well. However, it also fits its environment. You would need to see if something similar could work for you. My guess is that tea shops would likely work best in areas where there are large immigrant bases that enjoy tea and that you could tap into at least a little. I should also mention that at Samovar, they recommend Pu-er to customers who are looking for coffee. They don't serve coffee.
3. Consider bubble tea as an option. Those type of tea stores and tea drinks are popping up everywhere and are very popular. They don't require the same level of sophistication and education of a full blown tea shop and the American crowd loves them.
4. If you still go with a full blown tea shop, expect to spend a lot of time on educating your audience. A lot of people like the idea of drinking tea but don't know much about tea beyond iced tea from Lipton and Luzianne. You will need to be their guide and show they way with a lot of hand holding. This is a big departure from coffee shops where the battle was fought years ago by others.
As far as what would get people to buy tea, that is the million dollar question. The current increase in tea consumption appears to be occuring because of perceived health benefits and I would expect that to continue to grow as more medical research is done. The other part is like another poster mentioned is that interest in other cultures can play a big role as tea has the advantage of being the exotic drink compared to coffee here in the US. People are always curious about the other thing and the history of tea is appealing to some people who like history and a good story. I think tea does well with the tech crowd for this reason.
Finally, nothing is wrong with tea. It is great stuff and people should drink more of it, especially good quality loose leaf tea.