If you pay attention to what the media has to say about tea – and I do – you might have noticed that they were beside themselves not so long ago over the news that a certain coffee retailing giant recently made a move into tea selling by opening a “tea bar” in Manhattan. Said bar was given the name of a certain tea retailing giant (though not nearly as large) that the coffee seller had acquired not so long ago, a move which also generated no small amount of publicity in itself.
Yes, I’m being coy about the names of said companies, since they are technically competitors of the one that sponsors this site. But it’s no great shakes to figure out who they are, mind you. And there are a few things that are interesting to note in all of this.
If you’ve figured out of whom I speak, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that they’re not going to open one tea bar and be done with it. If the truth be told they intend to open at least 1,000 more of these tea bars in North America and more on top of that in the rest of the world. No surprise there. Just up the road from where I live are two of that coffee company’s outlets located about a stone’s throw from each other.
According to one of the articles that reported this news, the top banana of the firm was chatting with a reporter while drinking a cup of tea that will set you back $4.95 (which could perhaps translate to something a little more reasonable outside of pricey Manhattan). Tea purists might also cringe at the notion of a 350-calorie CocoCaramel Sea Salt Latte, which was mentioned in two of the articles I read about this opening.
What this means for the future of tea is probably still up for grabs and the answers you get might depend largely on who you ask. One tea expert suggested that it all might be detrimental to those who offer a similar line of teas and related wares. But a top-ranked tea guy at the firm claimed that the number of indie coffee shops increased almost ten-fold as you-know-who came to prominence and suggested that the tea industry might now follow suit.
Perhaps the most significant point, for those of us who don’t care so much for the aroma (stench?) of brewing coffee, is that the flagship location won’t be offering any. Whether the other locations will follow suit remains to be seen.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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