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Starbucks is brewing tea in India, launches Teavana speciality teas

business Updated: Jan 18, 2017 18:24 IST
Sunny Sen

A woman and a man take nap sitting on armchairs at a Starbucks cafe in New York(AFP)

American coffehouse chain Starbucks is making its future bets on India’s large tea-drinking population.

On Wednesday it introduced Teavana speciality teas in 88 of its stores in India. “We are looking at attracting newer customers with our focus on tea, and are looking to double tea sales at our Starbucks stores,” Sumitro Ghosh, CEO of Tata Starbucks, told PTI.

Starbucks was already serving nine varieties of tea, and will double its tea offering with its new range, the company added.

To throw in some numbers -- an average Indian drinks two cups of tea in a day, and Starbucks will become the only coffeehouse chain to offer a large variety of tea in its cafes. India’s domestic tea consumption is 900 million kgs of tea.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Teavana is an American specialty tea retailer present in over 400 locations across the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Middle East.The speciality tea retailer was acquired by Starbucks for an estimated $620 million in 2012.

With Teavana, Starbucks hopes to change the way Indians drink tea -- usuallym round the street at what is called a “tapri” or a corner tea stall -- through its range of premium offering.

Starbucks started in 1971 in Seattle, Washington, and since then has come up as the world’s largest and most successful coffeehouse chain. In India, it has an equal partnership joint venture with Tata Beverages, part of the Tata Group, which has recently been in controversy over the ouster of former chairman Cyrus Mistry.

That doesn’t change Starbucks’ growth plans in India. Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks during his visit to India last year said that there is “major business opportunity” in India.

Since Starbucks launched its operations, local rival Cafe Coffee Day has been facing a lot of challenge, as a large number of young Indians have gravitated to the American rival.

However, Starbucks is not alone in its race to get tea-drinkers into a cafe -- Chaayos, Chai Point, Tea Trails and Tea Point are have also opened tea cafes.

(With inputs from PTI)