About one month ago Starbucks announced they are closing Teavana tea shops – all 379 of them. Many tea drinkers missed the news, and couldn't help wondering what happened. Why is Teavana closing?
Imagined as a tea heaven, Teavana started small in 1997, and grew big in the years to follow. Starbucks is in the middle of shedding all their investments that aren't growing their core business. In December of 2012 Teavana was purchased for $620 million in the largest acquisition ever by Starbucks just to be closed 5 short years later. It's not wrong to say that many small local shops around the world were driven by Teavana's example and the consumption of flavored teas flourished both in the U.S.A and Europe. However, tea culture in the West has changed. Tea drinkers are seeking for a different experience and Starbucks seams to be struggling with getting enough foot traffic in Teavana's stores.
Being around tea for almost two decades, I've noticed many interesting trends in tea world. Tea lovers moved many steps forward, they no longer want heavily flavored teas and mass market quality. Moreover, nowadays there are more online tea shops than regular brick and mortar shops, which makes it possible to provide higher quality tea for reasonable prices. Teas that were impossible to find outside of their place of origin a few years ago. This has been rapidly changing. Tea farms are switching to producing organic small-batch artisan teas and wholesale process has never been easier. Consumers want something different, authentic and pure. Buying habits have also changed. People rather choose calm surroundings of their home to peacefully buy tea online, rather than being nagged by a sale person wanting to sell every possible tea on the shelf.
Tea is not coffee
Although many merchants used to sell tea and coffee together, those times are all gone. Back in the days when tea was brought to the West, people drank mainly black tea. That tea wasn't of the highest quality, but mass produced to satisfy the needs of numerous new tea drinkers around the world. When Teavana opened, 20 years ago, green, white, oolong and flavored teas were still a novelty in the West. Companies had an opportunity to offer all new amazing health benefits and flavors no one ever heard about before.
But, people do get bored after many years of drinking the same old things. Every tea lover has almost the same path – starting from teabags, moving to flavored teas and then completely switching to pure leaf. Pure leaf was very difficult to find (that is, the one of good to high quality) until a few years ago. Trends changed, and though many still do enjoy a good flavored tea, they can be found for a much lower price.
The organic trend might also explain this a bit further. Coffee is not considered a healthy drink (although it does have good benefits), while tea is all about health. I read one article in which author explained how she takes her own loose leaf tea and asks for a cup of hot water in Starbucks cafe so she can drink organic unflavored tea while eating. Rarely anyone asks where their coffee is coming from, is it organic or fair trade.
So why is Teavana closing?
All those reasons might explain why Teavana is not getting enough foot traffic. Tea consumers became more sophisticated, their taste changed as well as their quality expectation - from mass marked to artisan, and they seek for authenticity, knowledge and passion. It might be that the tea market is one of the fastest changing markets. What was desirable 20 years ago is no longer wanted, tea drinkers became more passionate about their teas, more knowledgeable and more demanding. However, that demand is very simple – give us fresh, high quality, reasonably priced tea that we can enjoy slowly, peacefully, and buy without any pressure.
We believe both buying and drinking tea should be enjoyable and peaceful. California Tea House wants to offer you the best possible tea experience and organic, highest quality teas. We don't use any importers or third parties which makes it possible to have fair and lower prices for without compromising the quality.
Use code "LEAVANA" for 20% off site wide. Limit one use per household.