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A Starbucks for tea-lovers: how long before tea joins the 'second living room' trend? Examples from the US, India and Thailand.

A Starbucks for tea-lovers

Now that Starbucks and dozens of similar coffee bar chains are spreading the smell of roasted coffee beans in cities all over the world, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a small but growing number of companies is eyeing the market for coffee’s alternative (or nemesis, depending on your beverage cravings): TEA! So far, Springwise has spotted three aspiring ‘Teabucks’ chains: Boston based ‘Tealuxe‘, Taiwan/US based ‘Cha for Tea‘ (which is owned by ‘Ten Ren Tea Co.’), and Thai/Indian ‘Tea Concepts’. Tealuxe currently runs three outlets in Massachusetts and one in New York (near Columbia University). They are backed by VC firm Halpern, Denny & Co and hope to open three more units in New York this year, and ten more in 2004. (Source: Wall Street Journal). Taiwanese Cha for Tea has nine outlets: five in Taiwan, two in the US, one in Japan and one in Australia. In addition to dozens of tea varieties, Cha for Tea is also big on bubble/boba tea: tea served with chewy tapioca pearls, a craze that started in Taiwan in the early ’80s. And last but not least, Calcutta-based Premier’s Tea India Co. and its local Thai distributor, Tea Concepts, will open two concept shops in Bangkok next month (March 2003). Anticipating success, the firm is negotiating to open three additional outlets next year, one each at Central Lat Phrao, Siam Square and Sukhumvit, with expansion through franchises on the cards. (Source: Bangkok Post).


Tea leaf reading is easy for this one: Starbucks and other coffee chains offer a second living room, or Being Space, with all kinds of services, from comfy chairs to wireless access, AND they offer coffee.Consumers definitely like the Being Space concept, so there’s room for similar ‘Being Space Chains’ whose main focus is tea, the other hot beverage of choice for most day-time/after dinner sippers. And just like coffee, tea comes in so many varieties that it validates a massive and ‘themed’ beverage assortment, which can not easily be incorporated by any coffee place, whether it’s inventory or proposition-wise.If tea chains first and foremost adopt the Being Space strategy, Springwise sees a global market which will cater both to tea addicts (for example: roughly 30% of all Americans drink tea every day), as well as to the masses who constantly switch back and forth between quality coffee and tea. Playing the health card (green tea!) won’t hurt either.With only a handful of mini-chains currently claiming a tiny part of this space in the US and Asia, and Europe not being served at all, entrepreneurs with global aspirations should find this opportunity just their cup of tea!


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