Starbucks Drink Guide: Iced Teas
Expert Recommendations from a Starbucks Barista
As a Starbucks barista with a lot of experience, one of my favorite parts of my job is teaching people about our menu. I love when I'm able to help a customer find the drink they're craving! I decided to write a series of guides to explain all of the drinks on the Starbucks menu. There really is something for everyone!
If you're new to Starbucks or totally unfamiliar with the terminology, I recommend checking out my first guide, which details the sizes and basic terms you'll run into. In the previous section of my guide, I discussed the Starbucks hot Tazo tea selections.
In this installment, I'll be explaining everything about iced teas.
Usually, Starbucks drinks are only offered in three sizes—Tall, Grande and Venti. However, a new size was added exclusively for iced teas, iced tea lemonades and iced coffees. This monstrous 30-ounce cup is called the Trenta.
All iced teas and iced tea lemonades come sweetened with Classic syrup by default. Classic syrup is a simple syrup, which is basically a fancy way of saying sugar water or liquid sugar. The standard amount of pumps are as follows:
Tall - 3 pumps
Grande - 4 pumps
Venti - 6 pumps
Trenta - 7 pumps
Alternatively, you can get your iced tea unsweetened, or you can get it with any of the other sweeteners that Starbucks offers e.g. sugar, Raw Sugar, honey, Sweet and Low, Equal, or Splenda. I would recommend against using raw sugar or honey since they don't mix into the tea very well, and a lot of it just gets left behind in the shaker.
If you're feeling adventurous, add a syrup! Raspberry and Vanilla (available sugar-free) go very well in iced teas. Peppermint (also available sugar-free, seasonally) is a less common choice, but I think it's refreshing from time to time.
Summer of 2014 featured the addition of Blackberry syrup and the welcome return of Peach Syrup. Some stores still have these available in stock, but most batches are due to expire in February or March of 2015.
Shaken Iced Teas
Why are they called shaken? Because that's how we prepare them! All Starbucks iced teas are made in shakers with equal parts tea and water. Ice and sweetener are added, and the drink is shaken before it is served. This evenly chills the tea and ensures any sweetener is thoroughly mixed in.
Every part of this drink can be customized. For a stronger tea, ask for light or no water, and to make it weaker, feel free to add extra water and extra ice.
Technically, any of the Teavana teas can be made iced. It takes a few minutes to make them, though, so I wouldn't recommend ordering one that's not a standard menu iced tea if you're in a hurry or are going through a drive-thru.
To make a non-standard iced tea, the barista has to first steep the tea, then pour it over ice. This takes at least five minutes for green and herbal teas, and a little less time for the black teas. I'm sure that any barista would be happy to do this for you, but as it is not a common request, they may have to step away to look up the recipe!
The teas that are brewed in the store are actually made with bags that are specially designed for the way that Starbucks baristas brew their iced tea. They use one of these special tea bags, then steep it in one liter of hot water for five minutes, then top it off with a scoop of ice (to make it immediately cool,) and cold water. This tea is what is added to the shakers - it's brewed double strength so that it doesn't taste watered down when water and ice are added.
Below are the standard iced teas that are brewed daily in Starbucks stores.
If you're looking for a standard ice tea, this is the closest we offer. If you were a fan of the old black iced tea, which was a bit stronger, try ordering this without the water added. In summer 2014, Starbucks changed tea brands to Teavana. The Teavana Black tea tastes very similar to the Tazo tea we used to use.
The green iced tea offered in Starbucks is made using Teavana Jade Citrus Mint tea. It's minty and lemony, which may sound off-putting, but it's very refreshing. I prefer to drink this over the black tea, though it has a bit less caffeine.
Our only decaf iced tea, Passion Tango Tea is very fruity. I've noticed that it's a popular choice for kids, and though I think part of that is because it's red, the flavor is also great. I like to drink mine with a little bit of sweet and low because it works well with the tea's tart and fruity flavor.
Shaken Tea Lemonades
These beverages are made pretty much the same way as the basic iced teas, but lemonade is used in place of water. Everything else is the same! The lemonade that Starbucks uses IS sweetened, but very lightly.
Black Tea Lemonade
A very refreshing twist on the usual black iced tea, this drink is similar to an Arnold Palmer. The lemonade itself is sweetened, but not a lot. If you don't have much of a sweet tooth, I wouldn't recommend adding additional sweetener.
Green Tea Lemonade
This is my favorite of the Starbucks iced teas. I think it's the most refreshing overall, and the flavor is very unique. Because the Jade Citrus Mint Tea has a lemon flavor to it on its own, it goes very well with the lemonade.
Passion Tea Lemonade
This reminds me of other fruit flavored teas I've drunk. It's tart and tangy, and I love it on a summer day. Most of the baristas at my store would highly recommend trying this with raspberry syrup, and I totally agree. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, and I only take two pumps of raspberry in a venti, though (which usually gets six.) My reasoning for this is that the Passion tea is already tart, with a tart lemonade added, and then the raspberry...
Seasonal or Limited Edition Iced Teas
With a recent change from Tazo to Teavana teas being served in Starbucks stores, Summer 2014 has seen two seasonal iced teas being featured.
Peach Green Tea and Peach Green Tea Lemonade
This seasonal offering features the same Green Iced Tea that is the standard, but it is sweetened with Peach syrup. The syrup does contain sugar, so unfortunately this is not available unsweetened. This has been featured in the past with Tazo tea, so hopefully Peach syrup will make a come back every summer!
Blackberry Mojito Tea and Blackberry Mojito Tea Lemonade
Blackberry syrup is a totally new offering for Summer 2014. It has a great berry flavor, and is not as sweet as some of the other syrups we offer. For example, I think this drink is much less sweet than a standard sweetened iced tea or the Peach Green Tea. The Blackberry Mojito Tea and Tea Lemonade is made with Green Iced Tea and sweetened with the Blackberry syrup.
Shaken Sweet Tea
This tea is still being tested in certain markets, so it is not yet available everywhere. I've heard a lot of buzz about it from customers. It is made with real cane sugar, and I've been told that it is SUPER sweet.