Starbucks opens first tea bar

by Monica Watrous
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NEW YORK — Brewing up in the Big Apple is a new tea bar concept from Starbucks Corp. Opening Oct. 24, Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar will serve handcrafted tea beverages and loose leaf teas, plus pastries, salads, flatbreads, small plates and cookies.

Starbucks acquired Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings, Inc. late last year for $620 million in cash. Teavana is a specialty retailer offering a variety of loose-leaf teas, tea-wares and other tea-related merchandise through 300 company-owned stores and on its web site.

“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 Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks. “As the second most-consumed global beverage behind water, tea presents a $90 billion global market opportunity, and we are excited to celebrate the first retail example of how our two companies are coming together.”

A second location will open in Seattle in November, and more are planned for additional U.S. cities in 2013, according to a Starbucks spokesperson. In addition to stand-alone Teavana stores, the Starbucks tea strategy includes leveraging the beverage in its coffee shops.

“Coffee to the American consumer tends to be busy and rapid and skewed toward the morning,” said Troy Alstead, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer, during a June 18 presentation at the Jeffries Global Consumer Conference. “Tea is a little more relaxing and Zen-like, and skews to the afternoon and evening and weekends, very complementary to that existing asset we have. With Teavana’s capabilities around tea and our ability to bring beverage innovation in a focused way to tea, just as we have to coffee and now to food, we believe we have an increasing opportunity to use tea as another layer of growth within the Starbucks store over time.”

More restaurants are warming up to tea. During a June 4 presentation at the Goldman Sachs Lodging, Gaming, Restaurant and Leisure Conference, Dunkin’ Brands revealed plans to add the beverage.

“… I think an area that we are really kind of excited about in the future is tea,” said Nigel Travis, chairman and chief executive officer of Dunkin’ Brands. “We study trends and we see tea as a growing opportunity and again a very high margin product.”
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