Starbucks is collaborating with Oprah to create a new Teavana chai tea.
First there was Oprah, the show. Then, O, the network. Now — with an assist from Starbucks — here comes Oprah, the tea.
Starbucks, in an unusual collaboration of mega-brand meets mega-star, is teaming with the former talk show host turned global media baron to create Teavana Oprah Chai tea. The venture was announced on Wednesday at the coffee giant's annual meeting in Seattle.
Schultz shocked the Starbucks annual meeting audience — a group that's quite accustomed through the years to seeing or listening to celebrity entertainers at its annual meetings — by introducing Winfrey, then embracing her when she took the stage. The two proceeded to hold hands for several minutes while explaining why Winfrey chose Teavana as the first brand, product or company with which she's aligned herself.
"Starbucks is about nurturing the human spirit," said Winfrey to an admiring Schultz. "That is my goal in life and what my brand has become." Winfrey said that she's previously received — and turned down — opportunities to promote everything from cars to cosmetics to clothing. "None of that felt organic," she said. But, she added, the Starbucks Teavana brand did.
Schultz was no less enthusiastic. "With the introduction of Teavana Oprah Chai, we are going to elevate the tea experience in the same way we did for coffee."
Tea is a $90 billion global tea market. The only thing that people globally drink more of than tea is water. Even as Starbucks puts the brakes on new, domestic coffee shops, it can accelerate on teahouses. Starbucks hopes to open at least 1,000 more of its own Teavana bars (different than the retail shops currently open in many shopping malls) in North America and many more outside the U.S.
Last year, the company opened its first Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar in Manhattan. The store has museum-esque lighting and a huge "Wall of Tea" featuring a range of loose-leaf teas and tea blends. Another has since opened in Seattle, and more are on tap in Chicago and Los Angeles, Schultz said.
Winfrey, who professes to be a tea-lover, personally developed the tea along with Teavana. The beverage features an infusion of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It will be available shortly before Mother's Day at Starbucks and Teavana stores in the U.S. and Canada.
Technically, it's not an endorsement deal. All proceeds that Winfrey makes will be given to youth education charities, she said.
Before leaving the stage, Schultz announced that all shareholders in the audience would go home with a sample of Oprah Chai.
Anybody can pitch perfume, Winfrey told the audience. But who else, she asked, can pitch Oprah Chai?