Starbucks To Open Tea-Only Shop

Starbucks plans to open its first dedicated tea shop in October 2012.

The company, which has long been synonymous with serving coffee, will open the new store under the Tazo brand, having bought Tazo Tea in 1999 for $8.1 million in cash. The 1,700 square-foot outlet will open nearby Starbucks HQ in Seattle’s University Village, and will also sell pastries, baked goods and packaged chocolates.

Customers will be able to choose from more than 80 varieties of loose-leaf tea, confirmed Starbucks spokeswoman Holly Hart, who added that the tea would be sold by the ounce. Starbucks says that there are no imminent plans to open more tea shops, but the company hasn’t ruled out further Tazo stores if, in Hart’s words, “we see another opportunity where a location is the right fit.”

This is hardly Starbucks’ first foray into not-coffee: in a bid to vary its offerings and win new customers, the company acquired popular bakery chain Bay Bread for $100 million earlier this month.

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Bay Bread was its biggest ever purchase, and part of the coffee giant’s bid to provide better quality food. Earlier this year, it opened a store selling flash-pasteurized juice. Alcohol has also been added to the menu of selected outlets.

Response to the Starbucks/Tazo tea shop has been promising on the markets – Starbucks shares rose 0.9 percent to $55.64 yesterday. Indeed, the company has enjoyed a purple 2012, with shares rising 20 percent since the start of January. Even in these financially constrained times, it seems people don’t mind paying for fancy beverages.

Are you much of a tea drinker, and would you like to see a Tazo store open near you?