Starbucks to open new tea bar

Starbucks will open its first tea bar in New York on Thursday. (Alex Wong / Getty Images / July 2, 2003)

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Starbucks transformed coffee culture around the world. Can it do the same with tea?

The Seattle-based company on Thursday is opening Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar, its first ever tea house, in New York City.

Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar will serve tea along with a variety of food items including sweets, flatbreads and salads. With prices ranging from $3 to $15, it's more expensive than Starbuck's. 

Starbucks purchased Teavana, a chain of tea stores typically found in shopping malls, for $620 million in November. The new tea bar will feature a relaxed decor, gray walls and dim lighting, unlike any existing Teavana store, and will be a stark change from the hustle and bustle of existing Starbucks locations. The tea bars will also be devoid of any Starbucks logos. 

"It's much more Zen-like than anything you'll find in a Starbucks store," Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz told USA Today. "We'll do for tea what we've done for coffee."

Starbucks plans to add tea bars to the existing 300 Teavana stores, which currently sell loose-leaf tea, gifts and tea accessories. Schultz hopes to open at least 1,000 more Teavana tea bars in North America in the next five to 10 years as well as locations outside the U.S. 

A second Teavana is scheduled to open in Seattle in late November. Customers will also be able to purchase Teavana tea at Starbucks locations in the future. 

Despite the expected success of the tea bars, Schultz is hesitant to believe it will ever rival the coffee-driven Starbucks empire. 

“I don’t believe Teavana will ever grow into what the Starbucks brand has become for one simple reason: Tea lacks the major caffeine count," Schultz told Forbes. "That sounds silly, but the bottom line is that in this day and age of frantic tech-driven lifestyles, people want to run on 100 milligrams of caffeine, and they will trade taste to make that happen."

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