The Chain Gang

Starbucks Ditches Its Struggling Teavana ‘Tea Bar’ Concept

The doomed Upper East Side location.
The doomed Upper East Side location. Photo: Starbucks

Starbucks is finally ready to write its Teavana “tea bar” experiment off as a loss. In 2012, the chain forked over $620 million in cash for the tea line, and Howard Schultz boasted the acquisition presented “a $90 billion global market opportunity.”

Now the company says the stores haven’t lived up to expectations, so it’s time to say good bye: New York City’s three Teavana locations will become plain old Starbucks by the end of April, and the one in Beverly Hills will just close. Seattle’s location will keep operating, although that’s not too surprising since the chain always runs a handful of experimental cafés on its home turf. Anyone still interested in the Teavana tea experience will have to visit one of the 350 retail stores.

Starbucks’s new earnings report was called “gangbusters” by some, but the ongoing struggles with its subsidiary brands are real, at least in America. Last year, the chain also pulled the plug on the 23 standalone stores run by La Boulange, the celebrated San Francisco bakery it bought for $100 million. Curiously, Starbucks earlier this month announced Teavana would debut in India, which Starbucks is describing as the latest “major, major business opportunity.”

In short, Americans seem to hold a place for exotic teas, just not the Starbucks kind. Its tins of oolong and matcha were apparently something not even Oprah could get Americans to care about, despite her generous offer of selfies.

Starbucks Is Closing Its Teavana Tea Bars