The first Starbucks' wine, beer and cheese café may have opened in Seattle, but the company went all the way across the country to open its first tea bar. This morning, in New York City’s Upper East Side, Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar opened to soothe hot beverage drinkers with a Zen-like experience.

The tea bar is designed to be calmer than the average Starbucks, and according to Forbes it’s not branded like a Starbucks. The familiar name is nowhere to be found, the bar does not sell any coffee, and drinks will be ordered by ounces not by tall, grande or venti. (I still order small, medium, or large when I’m in Starbucks. I can never wrap my head around the names of the sizes).

At $4.95 for a cup (not sure which size) of Maharaja Chai Oolong tea, the Upper West Side is probably a good place to open the tea bar. Will people pay that much for tea on a regular basis? We already know they’ll pay high prices for coffee from Starbucks and other coffee stores even though they could easily make good coffee at home for the fraction of the price.

Is tea drinking popular enough to support a chain tea bars? While it probably won’t ever push coffee out of the way, tea has increased in popularity over the past few years. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if the Teavana Tea Bars take off. The stores will sell loose-leaf tea for people to take home to make their own tea as well as prepared teas in the store (along with food) so it won’t have to rely on $4.95 cups as its only form of profit.

I’m going to say Starbucks is on to something here. I do see an increase in tea chatter on social networks and an increase in PR pitches for tea in my email inbox.

Are you looking forward to a Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar opening near you?

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