In an increasingly health-conscious city like NYC, could tea be the next big thing? Coffee giant Starbucks is betting on just that with its first Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar in New York City, which opened this morning on the Upper East Side. Exuding a Zen aesthetic with its charcoal tones and stacked rows of looseleaf teas, this LEED-seeking café promises to deliver a premium beverage experience that caters to both casual tea drinkers and tea enthusiasts alike. Inhabitat stopped by for a preview of the sustainable interior yesterday - read on for our photos.
The charcoal effect of the store’s wood was achieved right in NYC, and Liz Muller, Director of Starbucks’ global concept design even helped out in the process herself.
Starbucks, which acquired Teavana nearly one year ago, plans to open 1,000 such tea bars in the next five years. Research has shown that over the past five years, America’s taste for tea grew by 16 percent, a trend that Starbucks hopes to capitalize on by crafting a new experience to elevate tea in the same way that they’ve done for coffee.
“As the second most consumer-global beverage behind water, tea presents a $90 billion global market opportunity, and we are excited to celebrate the first retail example of how our two companies are coming together,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer. Clad in sustainable elements, this LEED-seeking tea bar also features reclaimed wood tables, LED lighting, cheesecloth walls dyed with tea and other green business practices.
One of our favorite parts of the design – a ceiling outfitted with clear tubes filled with loose teas.
In addition to its wide selection of hot brewed teas, iced teas and tea blends, the new Tea Bar will also offer a range of health-conscious food items specially designed to complement various tea flavors. Starbucks expects to open a Seattle branch just before Thanksgiving and will gradually expand its 300 or so existing Teavana stores with tea bars over the next five years.
For those who don’t quite have a taste for tea yet, the tea bar also boasts one of the world’s only tea carbonating machines. We tried a sample yesterday and found that the bubbliness really allows you to enjoy tea in a totally new way.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda, except where noted