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Starbucks to open first Teavana store, in New York City

Customers enjoy their drinks outside a newly designed Starbucks coffee shop in Fountain Valley, California August 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Bla
Customers enjoy their drinks outside a newly designed Starbucks coffee shop in Fountain Valley, California August 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Bla

(Reuters) - Having made its mark in the global coffee market, Starbucks Corp is setting its sights on tea - the world's most consumed beverage after water - which it dubs a $90 billion market opportunity.

On Thursday, the Seattle company will open its first Teavana tea store and bar on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The debut comes as Starbucks expands its reach with new shops focusing on everything from premium tea to pressed juices.

"This new store concept elevates the tea experience in the same way we've done for coffee," Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said in a statement.

Starbucks' $620 million purchase of tea store chain Teavana Holdings Inc last year was the coffee chain's largest acquisition to date.

Its new Teavana store will have a tea bar serving hot and cold drinks, including tea lattes and sparkling tea-based drinks. It also will sell food ranging from sweets to salads and flat breads as well as loose-leaf teas and merchandise such as teapots.

Teavana had about 300 shopping mall stores that sold loose-leaf, exotic teas when it was bought by Starbucks. The coffee chain said it would decide later whether to add tea bars to those existing stores.

Tea is not new territory for Starbucks. It bought Tazo tea for $8.1 million in 1999 and built it into a billion-dollar brand through sales at Starbucks stores and the grocery aisles of other retailers.

The company opened a Tazo tea store in Seattle last year and now plans to convert it to a Teavana store that will open in mid-November.

Starbucks also has opened four Evolution Fresh juice bars since its $30 million purchase of the juice maker in 2011.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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