It’s an age-old question – coffee, or tea? While thecaffeine in coffee may help us wake up faster, more and more of us seek tea forits relaxing, Zen-like character.

Our recent beverage trends may have inspired Starbucks’ latest creation – its firstever Zen tea house, opened earlier this week in New York City (under the Teavana name, acquired by Starbucks earlier.)

From the LA Times:The new tea bar will feature a relaxed decor,gray walls and dim lighting, unlike any existing Teavana store, and will be astark change from the hustle and bustle of existing Starbucks locations. Thetea bars will also be devoid of any Starbucks logos.

And from USA Today:Unlike Starbucks, where the culture ismore about drinks-on-the-go, at Teavana, the aura, design and mood is all aboutlingering. The contemporary-designed chairs are padded and comfy. The lightingis low. And the sheer variety of teas and munchies seems to require time to sitand savor.

Perhaps we are no longer coffee-craving consumers. In timesof stress and uncertainty, it may be that a peaceful tea cup can add something greaterthan caffeine content to our morning routines. And this is what retailers havebegun to notice:

From Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: “It’s much more Zen-like than anything you’ll find in a Starbucksstore. When you walk in, you see a shrine to tea. The store demonstrates ourknowledge of tea and romances the theater of tea with a visualexperience.”

What do you think? Will Zen tea houses overshadow coffeeshops in the next few years? Or will you continue to seek coffee beans as yourown personal Zen, regardless of what companies decide?

*Image courtesy ofStarbucks, obtained via USA Today