Hide

Welcome to Steepster, an online tea community.

Write a tea journal, see what others are drinking and get recommendations from people you trust. or Learn More

Tina S. said

Starbucks Expanding into Tearooms?

Has anyone else heard of this yet? I was told by a David’s Tea store manager that Starbucks is looking into starting their own tea shops, and has been calling around harassing staff and customers? Is the big green monster going to try and tackle Teavana?

26 Replies

If they are I hope they improve their quality and selection.

Login or sign up to post a message.

SimplyJenW said

Hmmmm. My first thought is that Starbucks won’t get very far if they just have Tazo.

My second thought, if this is true, I will just sit back and drink my tea from just about any place else and watch the show!

Login or sign up to post a message.

Tina S. said

Lol! That was my first thought too. Tazo is certainly not my favourite brand, in any form!

And if it does happen, I wonder how much of the market they think they’ll be able to corner, considering most tea drinkers prefer independents and quality to ease of access.

stephanieb said

I don’t think I’d say “most tea drinkers” – where I leave, a LOT of people drink tea instead of coffee and I would say the majority of them are fine with whatever tea is put in front of them! That said, I personally prefer quality over ease of access… but that’s just me. ;)

Tina S. said

See, I wouldn’t necessarily call them tea drinkers so much as people who drink tea, then. Semantics perhaps, but still destinctive categories. It’s like people who eat (hopefully all of us!) vs foodies.

Login or sign up to post a message.

I don’t know- I think this could be a good thing. The Twin Cities, for example, would not have the thriving, intense artisan coffee culture it does if Starbucks hadn’t come to town so many years ago. We need a better ambassador than Teavana. Sure, there are smaller tea shops who do a MUCH better job, but honestly, Starbucks has proved time and again that they can American-ize anything. By that, I mean that they can show Americans that a beverage can be there’s.. not foreign, not other, not appropriated, but something that should definitely be in everyone’s kitchen and in everyone’s cup. If anyone can make tea an American thing again, they’re sure going to do their level best.

At least I would be more comfortable with that than the way Teavana and many other large tea places sell tea only on health benefits and exoticism/Orientalism, rather than how awesome it tastes.

Plus, tea madness is a slippery slope. You start with some tea at Starbucks, and you end up with your own Japanese tea room in the garden and a pu’er cellar. The tea will do its work on anyone who’s got a mind for listening.

SunnyinNY said

Well said!
Although I don’t care for Starbucks coffee, I’m a Dunkin Donuts drinker, I actually like their iced teas. They do a good job when I am in quick need of an iced tea.

It would be nice to see them open a tea shop, but they should expand outside of Tazo tea…as I don’t care for them.

Plus, your post made me laugh.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting with a contractor about my Japanese tea room….. :)

Yep- you’re right about expanding their current tea selection. But if they’re really serious, I’m sure it’s on the to do list. They’ve shown dedication in their coffe image to bringing in “real” beans made by “real” people. A tea-house version of Starbucks would need to do the same, which would (hopefully!) imply loose leaf. And eventually, that higher quality would leak back into the coffe shops.

It would be nice if tea drinking became common. Right now, people assume that tea is only for little old ladies and baby girls, or pretenders who’d rather be British or “Asian.” Tea is for people, and we’re all people, too.

If only I had a garden! You know a tea pavilion would be first on my to-do list.

SunnyinNY said

I wish I could make a tea room in my tiny apt! Well…I kinda guess my living room is my tea room since I have my hutch as a storage center for all my teawares….

I agree that tea drinking needs to be more common. I think in our own way we do that by being on here & talking about it. I just wish more people appreciated tea even half as much as most of us on here do.

Yes I would like a Tea bar man cave! I know there probably not too many men who fantasize about a Tea bar in the basement. I love Starbucks just as much as anybody else. I just think if they are looking to take aim at Teavana then they’ll have to beef up the line up.

Login or sign up to post a message.

I think it’s a good thing. Starbucks is a powerful business and can possibly promote tea rapidly nation wide. They’ve already been serving loose leaf tea in China, so I believe they won’t be just serving bottled tea or tea bag in the States.

I personally start coffee drinking from Starbucks, and eventually moved up to better choices :-) If Starbucks serves loose leaf tea, it will manage to get a lot of people into tea. When the national tea market grows larger, all tea drinkers will have more options and better prices. When a lot of trained tea drinkers move up to more connoisseur level tea products, a lot of small, specialty tea vendors will benefit from the trend.

Login or sign up to post a message.

Uniquity said

I personally would not partake and wouldn’t encourage my friends to do so, but I must say that I hope their teas are priced more reasonably on a per cup basis than their coffees are. I think it might just further the impression that some people seem to have that ‘good’ tea is too expensive to enjoy regularily.

I’m pretty down on Starbucks, but I’m also Canadian so the “Americanization” aspect doesn’t really appeal to me, though. Actually I find it kind of insulting and even a little depressing, but I know many people who seem to enjoy their coffee so I assume I’m in the minority.

Aw.. I didn’t mean “Americanization” to only be for Americans. Forgive my oversight. Instead, I guess I was thinking of it as a de-mystification. If even Starbucks has loose leaf tea, then loose leaf tea is no longer out of reach for Bob or Sue or Francis down the road. It’ll be as common as cereal for breakfast and toast with jam, instead of something you’ll only drink when you’re going out for Chinese or sushi. If even Starbucks is making their tea loose in an infuser masket, why am I still using dust in a bag?

Aw.. I didn’t mean “Americanization” to only be for Americans. Forgive my oversight. Instead, I guess I was thinking of it as a de-mystification. If even Starbucks has loose leaf tea, then loose leaf tea is no longer out of reach for Bob or Sue or Francis down the road. It’ll be as common as cereal for breakfast and toast with jam, instead of something you’ll only drink when you’re going out for Chinese or sushi. If even Starbucks is making their tea loose in an infuser masket, why am I still using dust in a bag?But you’re very right that Starbucks should not be the ultimate goal of tea- that would definitely be depressing. I think I would just be encouraged to see a general raising of the bar. IE: it would force local artisan small coffee shops and bars to have tea that’s at least better than Starbucks, which will hopefully create a ripple effect of higher standards.

Uniquity said

I think one big difference between our viewpoints on this issue is that Starbucks is definitely not ‘the norm’ around here. Starbucks is considered rather elite, and not something that the average Bob or Sue drinks (that would be Tim Hortons!) I think from that Starbucks going loose-leaf would only further intimidate the average person – well, the average Nova Scotian, at least.

Good point. I didn’t realize that’s how Starbucks played out where you live. Come to think of it, Starbucks is also extremely elite in China (one of the number one date spots.. unless you’re going to KFC.. because you have to spend so much dough).

Uniquity said

That’s neat – I frequently forget how the things I am used to would be unusual and ‘exotic’ in other places. I don’t mean to suggest that Starbucks isn’t popular here (there are a couple in the city) but there is definitely a perception of elitism. What an interesting conversation – Thanks for sharing! : )

I think in eyes of coffee connoisseurs, Starbucks is not only not elite, but rather substandard (in terms of quality, not price, haha). I’m not that picky on coffee, but even I, a non-connoisseur, think Starbucks is too expensive for its quality, and there are many better options, including my own kitchen :-p On the other hand, to a large degree, the business success of Starbucks is built on its effort to make its patrons feel it’s “elite”.

Login or sign up to post a message.

Enoky said

I hope this doesn’t happen. I think it would ruin the few real tea shops that are out there.

Yes, I have stopped at StarBucks and had a mug of Tazo Zen before. I agree that it’s not the best… but when I forget to pack my teabags, it is better than nothing. I hope they just stick to Tazo.

Login or sign up to post a message.

I welcome it with open arms! It is about time to relive our long lost tea culture by opening up a tea house! I am just worried it will turn away some customers who find the prices to be expensive, portions are small or simply be un-appealing to it because they are too fond of sugary or really flavored drinks. I noticed a lot when a drink comes in the raw it does not lasts and certainly tea by themselves are an acquired tastes.So I won’t be surprised that little by little it will become a frap or some sort of fusion drink. I am not against this at all but having a less pronounced tea culture really affects the way how tea is drunk or treated…

Login or sign up to post a message.

timmya9433 said

Any step that helps promote tea drinking in this coffee country is fine by me. As is, it’s hard to find a decent tea away from home. :/

well said!

Login or sign up to post a message.

Bonnie said

Not everyone lives in the BIG CITIES where there are one or many tea houses…but I’ll bet it’s hard to find a town without a Starbucks…even along the lonesome highways. Seems to me that fine average folks would welcome some tea from Starbucks and find it kinda exotic compared with sweet tea from McDonalds drivethrough. I order my tea from Canada and other places in the U.S.A. . We do have a tea house here in town…kinda small though. I could drive 60 miles to Boulder,CO and have more choices…an expensive trip. Noone will force you or our to step into a Starbucks.

Login or sign up to post a message.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.