Starbucks Taking Tea to Asia

Starbucks has announced it will test the notion that Asia is thirsty for western-style tea. The company announced Monday that it will launch its Teavana premium tea brand at 16,200 stores in 16 countries throughout Asia and the Pacific region. It is the biggest product rollout since Via in 2008.

Starbucks China flagship store.

Starbucks’ China flagship store.

The $125 billion global tea market represents an important growth opportunity and Starbucks is “leveraging its internal expertise, including knowledge in creating best-in-class retail experiences and handcrafted beverages, to create a new premium tea experience for customers,” according to the company.

Making Teavana a core offering throughout Asia follows two years of strong growth in the U.S., where Teavana Handcrafted Beverages and Full Leaf Tea Sachets lifted sales across the breadth of the company’s 11,000 coffee shops. In 2015, Starbucks grew its tea business 12% across all tea categories, posting an unusually strong 29% in iced teas sales at a time when tea sales overall are growing 4% nationally. Building on this success in North America and other parts of the world, “Starbucks aims to increase its global tea business to $3 billion over the next five years,” according to the release.

The launch “brings an entirely new and modern tea experience specifically developed for our customers, who increasingly want new and different tastes and experiences,” said John Culver, group president, Starbucks Global Retail. “This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the company’s expertise in creating best-in-class retail experiences, handcrafting customized beverages, and sourcing the finest ingredients, to become a leader in a new category for us. Just as we’ve done for coffee, this is tea reimagined at Starbucks.”

Starbucks' Matcha Espresso Fusion Iced Tea.

Starbucks’ Matcha Espresso Fusion Iced Tea.

Innovations in flavor and method of preparation (Teavana iced teas are shaken 10 times by hand) contrast with the Chinese-inspired emphasis on small servings of largely unblended teas that are generally served by trained tea artists.

Examples from the Teavana lineup include Matcha & Espresso Fusion, Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit and Honey, Iced Shaken Green Tea with Aloe and Prickly Pear, and Iced Shaken Hibiscus Tea with Pomegranate Pearls. Selections vary by market.

The fact that British teas are selling well in China is a good sign that the Teavana selections will be welcome.

Teavana teas will be available in all Starbucks locations across all its markets in the China and Asia Pacific region: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Source: Starbucks