Teavana Tea Bar exterior on New York’s Madison Avenue, October 2013. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
The folks that gave us the Frappuccino would like us to try an Earl Grey crème. Last October, Starbucks unveiled its first Teavana " tea bar "-a tony new format for its sister chain with lounge seating and elaborate tea lattes-on New York's Upper East Side. With 1,000 more in the works , Starbucks hopes to exploit demand for a brew that lags coffee in sales but is more popular globally. "This is not your mother's Lipton tea, just as Starbucks wasn't Folgers," said Schultz. True. A cup of Lipton never cost $5.95.
Starbucks is, of course, late to the game in Canada, where homegrown player DavidsTea has been growing aggressively . Both chains are pushing a similar ethos - the abundant shelves comprehensively stocked with dozens or hundreds of different tea blends, the quasi-ritualistic preparation of your cup, and the perky staff focused on giving a concierge-level consultation on what to drink. Both companies are betting that the same customer base who would have laughed at the idea of paying $6 for a cup of coffee 20 years ago but now does so daily can be persuaded to do the same for a carefully steeped cup of Jasmine Oolong. (And yes, you can get Pumpkin Spice as well. Just not year-round. )
Below are some scenes from the opening of the the first Starbucks/Teavana tea bar in New York. Expect one to show up soon at a mall near you.
Teavana patrons enjoying their cups on distressed-wood tables inside. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
A tea barista scooping some “Lavender Dreams” blend. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
To command its higher prices, Teavana insists it is selling "stories" with every cup. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
A range of Teavana blends on display, including "Cranberry Singapore Sling," "My Morning Maté" and "Dragonfruit Devotion" (Spencer Platt/Getty)
Steeped tea for sale, starting at $4 for 12 ounces. Teavana baristas will also prepare latte-like blends. (Spencer Platt/Getty)
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