Starbucks has brought three green tea-based products popular with the company's Asian customers to the US. With these offerings, the coffee giant hopes to leverage the increasing popularity not just of green tea but also functional drinks. US consumers will be drawn by green tea's purported health benefits, but might be reluctant to forsake their coffee-flavored favourites.

Starbucks has added a new drink to its popular blended creme frappuccino line, namely Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino. In addition, lower calorie options Tazo Shaken Green Iced Tea and Tazo Shaken Green Tea Lemonade round out the trio of launches, all of which will be available until the end of September.

Green tea has received much positive press lately, with studies touting the wide-ranging benefits of its anti-oxidant properties. The host of health benefits cited includes cardiovascular health, tooth and gum health, enhanced immunity, and protection against diabetes and certain cancers. Research into green tea's protective properties has been extensive, with scientists tracing the ability of green tea extract to inhibit specific cancer-causing genes and proteins. Over 100 research papers have been published by different green tea researchers since this January alone.

Armed with this galvanising evidence, Starbucks has looked to global consumer trends to inform its launch decision in the US. The company has also, no doubt, looked to its own previous success as the green tea-based drinks have been popular with Starbucks' Asian customers since 2001. According to Asia Pulse, green tea drinks have replaced energy and juice drinks as the most popular drink in Taiwan. Loyal Starbucks customers who tasted the green tea drinks while traveling in Asia even requested the drinks be launched in the US, according to the company.

With 94% of respondents to a recent Datamonitor consumer survey found to be aware of the green tea ingredient, consumer awareness of green tea's potential health properties and consumers' increasing pursuit of proactive, healthy lifestyles may make Starbucks' new drinks a hit. However, Starbucks is known for meeting consumers' need for indulgence, not health, meaning its usual customers will have high expectations regarding the drinks' taste. The coffee chain will therefore have to ensure that its mild green tea flavour can attract both the average consumer as well as the mocha frappuccino and caramel latte regulars.

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