Every mall near me has (or, will have had) a Teavana. For a while, it was the only place to go if you wanted loose tea and didn’t want to take a ride all the way out to Chinatown. I remember when I first got into tea I walked into the store for the first time and asked to smell everything in their tins behind the counter.
That was when I learned I hated Teavana. From their constant upselling to their sub-par tea quality to even their dishonesty in how they brew their samples, the whole thing infuriated me. The tranquil meditative experience of tea was absent, instead replaced by employees whose only goal was to sell you as much as possible, whether you wanted anything or not. No, I don’t want the extra $12 storage tin, thank you. No, I just wanted two ounces, please take out the extra three you put in the bag. No, I didn’t want to buy anything, I’m actually outside the store, please leave me alone.
I’ve been spoiled by choice where I live. There are two tea shops in my suburb’s downtown area, and it’s an embarrassment of riches in Chicago where I work. David’s Tea, Tea Gschwender, and my personal favorite, Adagio Teas. And that’s just a few. Even my local mall has another tea shop aside from Teavana. So after a few horrible experiences at multiple Teavana stores, I decided I was never going back.
But for a lot of people, it was their only exposure to the bigger tea world. And as some have said, its closing might likely be a detriment to tea’s visibility on the US market. And for that, I do feel a little sad about its passing.
The thing about it is, though, is that Starbucks still has big plans for Teavana as a brand. Starbucks has shut down just about every business it has acquired since they started their small business shopping spree, but they’ve only done this because their end goal was to incorporate these products into their own shops, not managing additional businesses.
They are still selling Teavana’s teas and teaware in their coffee shops and have no plans to stop as Teavana’s tea-based profits have actually gone up substantially since Starbucks bought the company. Starbucks even has plans to start selling Teavana-branded teas in grocery stores. And I firmly believe that if people drink tea at all, even if it’s a low-quality bag of store bought tea fannings, that’s a win for us.
So while it’s a little sad that we will no longer have physical stores, the visibility of Teavana and tea as a whole is probably going to increase, especially as Starbucks continues to push their teas in their coffee shops and in stores. Heck, my local Jewel Osco has a Starbucks inside of it. Imagine how easy it would be for them to say, “If you like our tea, you can buy boxes of it in aisle five”. That, I think, is much easier and better for the average consumer than going to a dying mall and getting coerced into buying more than you wanted to.
I think Starbucks is doing the right thing by removing the biggest hurdle preventing people from buying tea: Teavana’s horrible customer service.
So goodbye Teavana. At least until I go to the nearest Starbucks drive-through.