Oprah gives Starbucks tea push a celebrity shot with chai drink

SEATTLE, March 19 Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:23pm EDT

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SEATTLE, March 19 (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp will add a celebrity blend to its big tea push when it debuts "Oprah Chai," a tea-based drink created by media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey and Starbucks' chief Howard Schultz clinked tea cups on Wednesday at the company's annual meeting as they announced the new brew, which will go on sale at Starbucks and Teavana stores in the United States and Canada on April 29.

The world's biggest coffee chain is looking to tea as a way to keep expanding its sales as competition grows in the coffee market.

Starbucks said Winfrey developed the tea with Teavana's leading teaologist Naoko Tsunoda. It is a blend of tea infused with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves, and will be sold in tins or as prepared tea lattes.

For each Teavana Oprah Chai product sold, Starbucks will make a donation to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation to benefit youth education.

According to The Tea Association of the USA, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. While tea is the more popular beverage, coffee is king when it comes to sales.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; editing by Andrew Hay)

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