Organization is Everywhere: Teavana Tea Wall

I began drinking tea when I lived in France and I often felt peer-pressured by colleagues to drink some kind of hot beverage during our break. I was not interested in coffee, but tea with sugar was acceptable to me then. In the last year, I started drinking more loose-leaf tea and got hooked on Teavana. I understand that they are Starbucks corporate-evil (and overpriced) and the employees basically work on commission (caveat emptor), but man, their tea is YUMMY! My faves: Youthberry, Precious White Peach, Caramel Chai, Cha Ven Thai and others… I have about 20 kinds at home, and they are “organized” in jars in six stacks of three, with some stragglers that I don’t have jars for right now.

Teavana sells its tea either by the cup (prepared) or in bulk with a 2-oz minimum. (Note: rip-off to buy a cup. Also note: they will upsell you–“Is 2.4oz okay?”) Along the back wall, they have all their teas displayed in color-coded tins, based on what kind of tea it is. The display is kind of rainbow-like, with the teas alphabetized within their grouping.

I am not sure how they decided the order of color-coded types: it’s not alphabetical since it starts with white tea, then green tea, then oolong, then maté, etc. I’m not sure it’s by caffeine-content either, but maybe the higher caffeine teas are in the middle. My guess is that it’s purely aesthetic, for the rainbow effect. The arrangement is basically the same from store to store and you can see an interactive version here.

  1. What is being organized? bulk tea
  2. Why is it being organized? sales, aesthetics, ease of retrieval for employees
  3. How much of it is being organized? all bulk teas, except for prepackaged blends for gift sets
  4. When is it being organized? Whenever a new variety of tea is launched, they probably have to rearrange and replace one of the tins on the wall.
  5. How or by whom, or by what computational processes, is it being organized? The Teavana corporate types tell the stores how they will display it; the stores comply.