Teavana vs. Adagio Teas

by cazort

A comparison of Teavana vs. Adagio Teas, comparing price, value, quality, company ethics, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of both companies.

Teavana and Adagio Teas are two of the most popular retailers of loose-leaf tea in the U.S. Teavana a publicly traded corporation which was recently merged into Starbucks. Adagio, on the other hand, is a primarily online tea company which only sells a few products in stores. Teavana's stores are located mostly in high-end shopping malls.

It is hard to directly compare the two companies because they are so different. But on this page, I will do my best. To be open about my biases, I will say ahead of time that I prefer Adagio, but I do think Teavana has a few areas where it excels.

A Quick Intro to Both Companies

Visit each company's website to learn more for yourself.

Teavana is a large chain of retail tea stores, briefly its own publicly-traded corporation, and recently bought by Starbucks.  Adagio Teas is a smaller company that is nevertheless a leader in the online tea world, with a network of interactive websites.

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Prices and Value

Which of Teavana and Adagio is cheaper? No clear answer.

It is hard to compare the prices of Teavana and Adagio across the board, because the companies stock somewhat different teas.  But there are a few types of teas where a very similar tea is carried by both companies.

  • Golden Monkey - Adagio's version of this tea is $17 for 3 ounces, whereas Teavana's is $18.50 for only 2 ounces.  In this case, Teavana is considerably more expensive.
  • English Breakfast - Adagio's is $12 for 3 ounces, Teavana's is $3.80 for 2 ounces.  In this case, Adagio is more expensive
  • Gyokuro (A high-end Japanese Green Tea) - Adagio and Teavana come very close on this offering, with Adagio's at $39 for 4 ounces and Teavana at $40 for 4 ounces.

Although it is tempting to expect that Teavana is more expensive, this is not necessarily the case.  When comparing similar teas side-by-side, Teavana is sometimes more expensive, but is sometimes cheaper.

But what about selection?

The selections of Teavana and Adagio are quite different.  Teavana's selection is heavily skewed towards blends, especially blends of tea with many other ingredients (including mate, rooibos, and various caffeine-free herbs), whereas Adagio is a clear leader in pure, single-origin teas.  Adagio has far more selection among oolong teas, and slightly larger selections of pure white and pure green teas.  Since I tend to prefer single-origin pure teas, I definitely prefer Adagio's selection to Teavana's.

Quality? Personal Perspective and RateTea's Data

I personally prefer Adagio Tea, but my reasons are more about ethics than quality of the teas, which are comparable.

I run RateTea, which is an interactive tea rating website.  Although I have my own personal opinion on the relative quality of various teas, running RateTea has given me a good sense of a broader popular opinion.

On the question of Teavana vs. Adagio, I will say that there is no clear winner.  One tea from each company is currently rated in the top 10, and there are other teas from both brands that rank considerably lower.  There is no clear trend of one company's teas being rated higher, either for value or flavor or overall quality.  Teavana's teas tend to attract more reviews on the site, but this doesn't mean that they're better, just that it's a more mainstream company that has reached a broader audience.

You can read Teavana tea reviews and Adagio Tea reviews on RateTea for yourself.

My personal opinion echoes this.  Although I like Adagio better as a company, I would hesitate to say that their teas are uniformly better.  I personally think Teavana does a slightly better job of their fruit-flavored blends, whereas Adagio does a slightly better job of pure teas (which is something I tend to prefer anyway).  I also like Adagio's selection better, in the pure tea department.

Sales Practices and Ethics

Teavana is plagued by persistent complaints about pushy sales practices. Adagio is not.

One point on which Teavana and Adagio Teas greatly diverge, in my opinion, is in their sales practices and corporate ethics.

I have personally experienced Teavana's pushy sales firsthand.  While my experience was not as negative as some of the worst experiences I've seen described online, and while my experiences have been more negative in some stores than others, I've noticed things like:

  • Salespeople always suggesting the most expensive teas first, when I ask for a suggestion (regardless of what I say I'm looking for).
  • Salespeople measuring out more tea than I asked for, and then being very slow about putting it back when I object to the quantity.
  • Salespeople presenting me with unsubstantiated health claims about the teas.

Some of the things I've seen described online from a variety of sources include:

  • Hiding the register display from the customer and asking for the credit card and swiping it, before showing the total amount of the purchase
  • Including accessories like tins in a purchase when the customer did not explicitly ask for it, and without telling the customer that the tin costs extra, or what it costs

For one of the harshest accounts I've read, I recommend reading Teavana Salesperson Throws Involuntary Tea Party, an article in The Consumerist.

I've never experienced or heard anything from anyone suggesting that Adagio Teas has ever engaged in any practices like this.  Adagio Teas sells primarily online, but I have had the opportunity to meet many of the company's staff at the World Tea East expo.  I have a very good feeling about that company, whereas Teavana is one that I have serious ethical reservations about.

Do you buy tea online?

Do you purchase tea online, commonly or on rare occasions?

Want some good deals from either company?

Here I highlight two of Teavana's teas that I think represent the best deals. I also recommend Adagio's samplers, one of the more affordable of which is highlighted here.
Teavana English Breakfast Loose-Leaf Black Tea, 2oz

A flavorful and popular blend of full-leaf, high-grown Assam, Nilgiri and Ceylon black teas. English breakfast blend is a perpetual morning-time companion to tea lovers everywhe...

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Teavana Moroccan Mint Loose-Leaf Green Tea, 2oz

This traditional Moroccan drink is wonderfully refreshing during hot summers (indeed!). A true palate cleanser, this exciting and refreshing blend of Chinese gunpowder green tea...

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Adagio "Garden" Herbal Loose Tea Samples / Tea Sampler

A wonderful introduction to the wide range of herbal teas. Each sample makes about 6-8 cups of tea.

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Stores vs. Online Only

Adagio Teas sells primarily online. Teavana sells online but has widely distributed stores.

Adagio Teas is primarily an online tea company.  Although it is not strictly 100% online, it is primarily so.  Adagio recently opened three retail stores in Illinois, but an overwhelming majority of Americans only have access to Adagio online.  I have seen a few of their products, rarely, available in stores, and this availability has increased somewhat in recent years, but the company still is primarily an online tea company.

Teavana is a completely different animal.  Although they do have a website for buying tea online, they are best-known for their stores, which are widely distributed throughout America and tend to be located in high-end shopping malls.

I think there's something to be said for physically going into a tea store and seeing and smelling the tea.  Not only can you get a sense of the freshness of the product you're buying, but you can learn more about teas, including teas that you don't necessarily buy or sample, just by looking at them and smelling the dry leaf.  On this point, Teavana has a clear advantage, although I would caution you about Teavana's pushy sales practices that I mention above.

Adagio or Teavana? Which do you prefer?

Which of these two tea companies do you have a preference for?
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Molly DuBose on 04/11/2017

Adagio. I have had Teavana's teas and that is what I got started with but their pushy sales techniques have caused me to never return.

debby on 06/26/2016

I'm fortunate to live in Chicago and have access to Adagio. I mostly do coffee in the morning and tea later in the day so many of my choices are fruity herbals and decafs. The folks at the Skokie (Old Orchard) store have been very helpful.

Kristin on 09/10/2015

I prefer adagio to teavana. Having bought tea from both stores, I agree that teavana sales people can be pushy. Are their pay, hours, etc. based on commission? I also like the less corporate aspects of adagio.

JohnF on 02/17/2015

I prefer Adagio because you can buy very small quantities of tea for only a few dollars. This allows me to keep 10-20 teas at my house at a time. I like the variety.

Eileen on 08/10/2014

What about Upton Tea? I chose Adagio below because it is not so corporate despite the fact that I have not purchased any tea from them

John on 06/01/2014

My only issue with Adiago is they do not clearly define sometimes what type of tea is being listed. It shows the title of the tea but not if its a green, herbal, etc.

katiem2 on 03/19/2013

I first became aware of Teavana and enjoyed buying many of their products including tea service in cups and pots. Since I've come to know Adagio I've grown fond of it beating out Teavana.

TheDevotea on 02/20/2013

Not sure you can compare English Breakfast. They vary wildly in composition. And I'm required to pick a side here, even though I have not tried either.

Rachel Carter on 02/19/2013

Great post! I also prefer Adagio over Teavana. I prefer their teas, prices, website platform, and customer service. I have also had the privilege of going to the grand opening of Adagio's first retail store in Naperville, Il. I loved the setup, tea options, their helpful employees.

cazort on 02/19/2013

I prefer Adagio's selection, and I have personally met several of the people involved in Adagio and feel good about them. Teavana I think has good tea, and I like that they have more retail stores, but my concerns about the ethics of their sales practices keep me from wanting to endorse or support them.

Visit More of My Tea Pages

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Updated: 09/20/2014, cazort
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cazort on 10/22/2014

That's frustrating about the customs fee. How big a fee is it? There are a lot of European tea companies that I like a lot...TeaGschwendner/TeeGschwendner is a German one I like a lot. I also liked Tea Horse, based in the UK, but it closed.

Mira on 10/22/2014

I agree that Adagio has a good vibe :). I just wish they had a Web site for Europe as well. I have to pay a (huge) customs fee if I order from the US. Interesting stories about Teavana pushing their teas.
Incidentally, I see now I had read this before. :)

cazort on 05/31/2014

I have no relationship to either company, and to be honest, neither is my favorite company. However, I do have a mild preference for Adagio over Teavana. I have experienced the high pressure sales, at two separate stores. The stores may be atypical--my most local store in Willow Grove was actually written up in The Consumerist, so it may be one of the worst of the worst, who knows? I agree with you that Teavana is doing something right--a lot of things actually. I do think their teas are good, and I think their fruit blends are top-notch. I also think they do some business things right--locating in high-end shopping malls with high traffic, and customers who are willing to pay high prices, certainly makes their business model work.

But as someone who knows the tea market inside and out, through my work on RateTea, I can say that, outside of their proprietary blends, which are more unique, the teas from Teavana can all be purchased elsewhere for cheaper.

Michele on 05/31/2014

This is so clear a shilling for Adagio. I've been shopping at teavana stores across the country for7 years. I've never felt a high pressure , pushy sales tactic going on and I'm in sales. They are very informative and you can sample and smell the product. Which leads to sales/ impulse purchases. Never heard of Adagio until now. Teavana must be doing something right as starbucks purchased them for 600 million...

katiem2 on 03/19/2013

I'm happy to have a better understanding of a great tea company. I once visited Teavana exclusively in addition to shopping the world market yet now I've come to love Adagio you've only confirmed that choice. :)K

Mira on 02/21/2013

I have used Adagio to surprise American friends now and then. They have some good deals on the site every once in a while, and the reviews sound good. Hope my friends were happy.

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