Starbucks celebrated the opening of their third Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar in conjunction with the release of Oprah Chai on April 29. The new store is located in Chicago’s upscale Southport Corridor one block from DAVIDsTEA.
The shop represents the latest refinement of the tea bar concept from Starbucks. You won’t find any new-fangled tea steeping devices behind the counter, all hot teas are steeped loose in glass carafes and the leaves are strained out as the tea is poured into the cup. Any cold drink on the menu can be carbonated on-demand, a continuation of the company’s recent experiments in the carbonated beverage market.
The store is primarily set up to be a grab-and-go tea bar. Oprah Chai is featured prominently on the menu alongside Earl Grey Creme, Maharaja Chai Oolong, and Youthberry + Wild Orange Blossom. The south wall of the shop is the tea bar and food area, the north wall of the shop is the retail portion of the shop with a wall of tea canisters and a large selection of tea-ware and gifts.
In the previous two store openings in New York City and Seattle staff used a BKON Craft Brewer. The equipment was not on display in Chicago.
The new store opening was well orchestrated and the messaging is consistent and well received: “As Teavana® grows and expands, we continue to enrich the lives of our guests by guiding them on an ongoing journey of discovering the beauty and benefits of loose-leaf tea.”
On Mother’s day Starbucks and Teavana stores will donate 25-cents from each cup purchased and $1 from 2 oz. packages that will be used to finance educational needs of children through the Oprah Chai Charities. The tea sells for $14.95 for 2 oz. On Sunday moms will get a free cup of Oprah’s Chai which is featured this week in a TV commercial narrated by Oprah. See the ad here.
Teavana now operates 15 stores in Illinois. Two more Tea Bars are planned to open this year; the first in Los Angeles and a second in New York City. The shop is a sure challenger to Chicago-based Argo Tea and many of the other large tea retailers that have tried their hand at brick and mortar retail in the city including Adagio, DAVIDsTEA and TeaGschwendner.