Starbucks opens first tea bar in New York

Starbucks opens first tea bar under the Teavana Fine Teas brand it acquired last year.
Posted By Kristen Butler  |  Oct. 24, 2013 at 7:43 AM
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(UPI) -- Starbucks is hoping to scoop up tea drinkers, and its first tea bar opens today in New York's Upper East Side.

The coffee giant acquired the Teavana Fine Teas brand last year, which has stores, mostly in shopping malls, selling loose-leaf teas and accessories including teapots, serving sets and infusers. Over the next five years, Starbucks plans to add full-service tea bars to some 300 existing stores.

A follow-up Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar will open in Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks, just before Thanksgiving.

“Tea has been a part of Starbucks heritage since 1971, when we were founded as Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices, and this new store concept elevates the tea experience in the same way we’ve done for coffee,” said president and CEO Howard Schultz, who, rumor has it, only drinks tea after 5 p.m.

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage worldwide behind water, comprising a $90 billion industry. Although coffee remains more popular in the U.S., tea is on the rise, with America's consumption rising 16 percent over the last five years.

There will be no coffee, nor even Starbucks branding, in the Teavana bars, and the drinks are sold as 12- or 16-ounce servings rather than “tall” or “grande.” The bars will retain Teavana's Zen decor, including its logo, which is a cross-legged Yogi holding a cup of tea.

The bars will also serve small plates, geared toward the health-conscious, including an egg white frittata for $5.95.

While the U.S. may drink less tea, Starbucks has a strong presence in tea-drinking markets including the U.K., Canada, Japan and China.

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