NEW York - Starbucks has opened its first new-style Teavana tea bar in New York in what promises to be a game-changing event in the fast food and beverage industry.
After declaring bold intentions to "transform the tea industry" with the acquisition of specialty tea retailer Teavana last year, the coffee giant opened the first new tea bar location on New York's Upper East Side on Thursday, where customers will be able to choose from a selection of loose leaf teas.
If all goes according to the Starbucks plan, the Teavana logo, which evokes the silhouette of a person drinking tea in a white-and-red colour scheme, is poised to become a ubiquitous presence around the world much like its green-and-white maiden.
Starbucks has made no secret of its plans to diversify its portfolio away from coffee - a commodity vulnerable to the effects of climate change and rising prices.
In addition to a tea bar, the company has also launched a flurry of new brands and products over the past two years including a fresh juice bar, French-style bakery and energy drinks.
The opening of Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar, meanwhile, comes at a time when interest in tea has grown by 16 per cent over the past five years in the United States, says the company.
After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world representing a US$90bil (S$111 billion) market.
The tea bar offers hot brewed and iced teas, tea lattes, sparkling and tea fusion beverages, while a "Wall Of Tea" will feature a range of loose leaf and tea blends.
A food menu proposes pastries, breakfast items, salads, flatbreads, small plates, macaroons, shortbreads and desserts, developed to complement tea flavours.
Currently, one of the leaders in the boutique tea segment is Canadian brand Davids Tea, which in just five years has expanded with dozens of locations across Canada and the US, including San Francisco and New York.