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Starbucks expands Teavana in South Korea to cash in on tea’s growing sales

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MILAN – Starbucks Korea said last week that it has expanded the number of Reserve stores selling Teavana drinks to 52 from 13 as it tries to cash in on the growing popularity. According to the coffee chain, sales of tea drinks have grown about 20 percent annually since it launched Teavana in the country in 2016.

Its flagship Honey Ruby Grapefruit Black Tea, rolled out in 2016, is now its third-most-frequently ordered drink, after Americano and caffe latte, among customers in their 20s, Starbucks Korea said. Sales of green tea drinks also jumped 35 percent in the first quarter, from a year earlier.

The coffee chain attributed the increasing popularity of tea drinks to greater health consciousness among customers in their 20s and 30s. The unique taste of its tea variations also appeals to customers, the company added.

Starbucks acquired US-based Teavana Holdings in December 2012, a “super-premium tea” product it said brought “exotic blends, great flavors, wellness and innovation” to customers globally. At that time it was a standalone retailer, however, Starbucks closed all of the stores and integrated the brand and its products into selected coffee stores.

In other news, a giveaway promotion from Starbucks in South Korea has drawn the ire of critics who allege consumers are buying coffee and dumping it to gain enough points for free goods.

The promotion has become popular, critics say customers feel pressured to buy products in “excessive” volumes.

Starbucks in South Korea is holding a promotional event from May 21 to July 22. If a customer buys 17 drinks, including seasonal drinks, they can get one of two small suitcases or a camping chair.