John Gress, Associated Press (m5xg2hpd20120620234309/600 )
Starbucks Coffee Co. will continue expanding beyond its coffee-serving cafes with its first stand-alone tea shop.
The store, which will operate under the company's Tazo brand, is scheduled to open in the fall in a Seattle shopping center across town from Starbucks' headquarters. It will feature a staff-run blending bar where customers can mix their own tea from more than 80 loose-leaf choices.
They also will be able to choose among iced teas, tea lattes and full-leaf tea sachets.
In addition to tea, the store will feature packaged chocolates, infused sugars and honey. Other foods and brewing merchandise will also be available.
Tazo already represents a $1-billion business for Starbucks, executives said in April, when they briefly referenced the brand's "unique opportunities … in multiple channels of distribution." Starbucks bought Tazo in 1999 for $8.1 million.
Some estimates peg the global tea market to be worth $95 billion.
It's becoming increasingly difficult to refer to Starbucks as a chain that serves mainly joe. The company recently launched its Evolution Fresh juice store in Washington state. This month, it paid $100 million to buy Bay Area bakery brand La Boulange.