Starbucks Tea

Starbucks to open first tea only store in Seattle

Tea time is set for a Starbucks-style makeover as the worldwide chain aims to do for the beverage what it has for coffee.

The company is to open its first outlet dedicated to the drink by the US autumn. The new concept store, called Tazo, will be tested in Seattle and follows the inauguration of the company’s first juice bar, Evolution Fresh, in a Seattle suburb in March.

Tazo will sell more than 80 varieties of loose leaf tea as well as related products such as tea pots. Starbucks, which has 17 000 outlets worldwide, bought Tazo for $8.1m in 1999 and currently sells its tea products through third-party retailers.

The decision to set up the tea outlet is part of Starbucks’ push into new markets. As well as tea and juice the company recently announced plans to baker Bay Bread Group for $100m.

However it is the tea market that Starbucks seems most excited about. According to Euromonitor the market for tea globally is 2.9m tons compared to coffee at 5.6m tons. Sales of ready to drink tea beverages were worth $56.2bn last year up from $32bn six years ago.

The company said the “hallmark” of the new tea shop will be its “blending station” which will allow customers to create their personalised tea.

“It’s very much about personalisation and interaction and immersing yourself in all-things tea,” a spokesman for Starbucks said. “It’s not going to be the typical grab-and-go experience.”

The spokesman compared the experience to wine tasting where customers could compare the “taste profile” of the teas.