Teavana, the ‘Starbucks of tea,’ set to go public

With 146 stores now in 38 states across the country, the brown-and-orange-themed mall storefront of Teavana will likely be exploding in the next couple of years after the company filed to go public last month. The stores are mostly in shopping malls now, including the Mall at Chestnut Hill, the South Shore Plaza, Copley Place, the Prudential Center and the Burlington Mall in the Boston area. According to the World Tea News blog by Dan Bolton, they’ll be opening 50 new stores by summer, and 60 more in fiscal 2012. The goal is 500 stores by 2015. The company was founded in 1997 by Chairman and CEO Andrew T. Mack and his wife Nancy Mack (who still own about 70 percent equity) and began rapidly expanding in 2004 following an investment from SKM Growth Investors, according to the blog.

Apparently, tea people say this will be good for the business of tea as a whole. Bolton quotes competitor Charles Cain, business development director for Adagio Teas, as saying “Teavana’s IPO is VERY good news for everyone in the tea industry…. While Teavana does a lot of things right, is a formidable competitor, and has a significant lead, they are not and cannot be all things to all people.”

I’ve been in the store at the South Shore Plaza a number of times, but only bought tea there once. It was good, but more expensive than some smaller shops, and I always think it’s a little inconvenient to have to ask to smell every type of tea, since they keep them all behind the counter. I always take a sample of the free tea the company puts out in front of the stores, though.

Whether this ends up being good for tea as a whole is yet to be seen. Tea has become more trendy in recent years due in large part to all the studies that say how good it is for you, but if it follows the same trajectory of Starbucks did for coffee, a $4 cup of tea may become the standard soon. I’ll still choose to buy mine and make it at home.

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About Don Seiffert

I'm a reporter and writer in the Boston area.
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