Japanese Tea Shop Looks for Green in U.S. Market
By George Anderson
Koots Green Tea Shop is hoping to do for green tea what Starbucks has done for coffee.
According to a Seattle Times report, the Japanese retailer’s shops with bamboo-like table tops and chairs with kimono patterned cushions offers a variety of green tea based drinks such as “matcha chocolate (white-chocolate chips whisked in green-tea powder with steamed milk and organic whipped cream) and the kuromitsu latte (made with green-tea powder and enhanced by Japanese molasses.)”
The founder of Koots, Kouta Matsuda, has experience bringing a new drink to a culture raised on a traditional national drink. Mr. Matsuda operated 300 Tully’s coffee shops in Japan where green tea reigns supreme.
Koots will be aided by a growing demand for tea in the U.S. fueled by a number of reports pointing to the health benefits associated with its consumption.
According to the Tea Association of the USA, there are currently 2,000 tea rooms in operation across the country. This is up from 200 just 10 years ago.
Last year, according to the group, Americans drank more than 50 billion cups of tea. Most of that was black tea (87 percent), which either signals that green tea has limited market opportunities or a tremendous upside.
Interestingly, Koots may have been given a leg up on cracking the American market by Starbucks. Last year, the coffee chain introduced a line of highly successful green-tea drinks,
including the Green Tea Frappuccino.
Moderator’s Comment: What do you see as the market opportunity for tea rooms/shops in the U.S.? What will be the keys to Koots being successful in America?
– George Anderson – Moderator