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Starbucks Drink Guide: Tea Lattes

Updated on March 17, 2016

Starbucks Tea Lattes

Ingredients
1 teabag tall cup, 2 teabags tall or venti
Hot water to half-way full
Steamed milk (2%)
Milk foam to top
Flavored syrups if requested
Keep in mind that Tazo is the brand of all of the teas that Starbucks offers, not just one type of tea.
Keep in mind that Tazo is the brand of all of the teas that Starbucks offers, not just one type of tea. | Source

Ordering drinks at Starbucks can be confusing. There are a ridiculous amount of options for every type of beverage on the menu and learning the unique Starbucks lingo can be a bit of a task. As an enthusiastic barista at the 'Bux, I've developed a helpful series of guides for customers who are looking for more information. Check out my first article to learn Starbucks terms.

A neat twist that can be done with any of the new Teavana teas is called a tea latte. Basically, a tea latte is equal parts hot tea and steamed milk. Since many of the teas are already caffeinated and many don't pair well with the taste of coffee, there is no espresso added to any of the tea lattes.

The recipe for a tea latte broken down to the standard for the non-menu items is as follows:

  • 1 tea bag in a tall, or 2 in a grande or venti cup.
  • Hot water to half-full.
  • Steamed milk (2% unless you request something else) to the top.
  • Just a bit of milk foam tops the drink.
  • If there is a syrup included in the recipe, the quantity is shown in the table below.

If you're wondering what goes into five of Starbucks' most popular tea lattes, read on.

Size
Pumps of Syrup
Tea Bags
Tall (12oz)
3
1
Grande (16oz)
4
2
Venti (20 oz)
5
2
When Starbucks served Tazo tea, this drink was made with Awake tea, which is a different brand.
When Starbucks served Tazo tea, this drink was made with Awake tea, which is a different brand. | Source

Black Tea

  • English Breakfast Tea bags.
  • Classic syrup, which is just like a liquid sugar.
  • Hot water.
  • Steamed 2% milk.
  • One scoop of milk foam.

Earl Grey Tea Latte. A favorite variation on the standard recipe is using the vanilla soy instead of 2% milk.
Earl Grey Tea Latte. A favorite variation on the standard recipe is using the vanilla soy instead of 2% milk. | Source

Earl Grey Creme/London Fog

Sometimes referred to as London Fog, the Earl Grey Creme Tea Latte varies just a little bit from the regular equation. Instead of the classic syrup that's in a black tea latte, this one features vanilla. The rest of the recipe is the same: half hot water, half 2% steamed milk, and the usual amount of pumps.

The combination of earl grey and vanilla is the perfect drink for a cold winter day and I've never actually served this latte with any other flavor than vanilla. That's not to say I'd discourage anyone from trying something new, but this drink seems to be a classic no one wants to mess with. For a skinny version, sugar-free vanilla and nonfat/skim milk can be substituted.

Although black and earl grey creme are the only Teavana teas that formally have latte versions on the Starbucks menu, any of the hot teas can be similarly made into lattes.

The Chai Tea Latte used to be topped with cinnamon powder, but Starbucks took this out of the standard recipe. It's a great addition.
The Chai Tea Latte used to be topped with cinnamon powder, but Starbucks took this out of the standard recipe. It's a great addition.

Classic/Tazo Chai

The chai tea latte differs from the average tea latte. It does come with the standard amount of pumps and is really half hot tea and half 2% steamed milk. This drink is one of the most popular items on the menu. If you walk in and order a chai, this is what the barista will serve you.

  • The main component is Tazo chai concentrate. This is a mixture of the same ingredients found in the full-leaf chai tea bag, but the liquid version is sweetened with a fair amount of sugar. It is super strong.
  • Hot water to fill the cup about halfway.
  • Steamed milk.

Tazo Chai concentrate is a mixture of black tea, ginger, cinammon, black pepper, cardamom, cloves and star anise. The black pepper gives this version of chai a real kick. It a spicy but even blend of the spices.

For a stronger, sweeter drink, try adding more pumps of chai or extra water. It may seem counter intuitive, but think of it this way: The more milk versus hot water in the drink, the creamier it's going to taste. Light water or no water chais are a bit less spicy than regular chais.

If you're a really adventurous chai drinker (like myself,) try experimenting with adding other flavors to the mix. Although chai has a really strong flavor by itself it mixes surprisingly well with other syrups. I've even enjoyed some chai and peppermint.

  • My favorite spin on a chai latte is the affectionately nicknamed chegnogg—chai and eggnog, which is unfortunately seasonal (or fortunately, depending on whether you're asking me or my waistline.) It also pairs really well with gingerbread syrup, when it's in season.

Teavana Oprah Chai

This mouthful was introduced in 2014 as part of a promotion to increase awareness of Starbucks' new Teavana tea brand. Oprah herself teamed up with Starbucks' new tea company to create this unique take on chai. The latte is made the same way as the Tazo chai tea latte, but of course with Oprah's special blend in place of the Tazo concentrate.

Oprah's chai varies incredibly in flavor from the Tazo chai.

  • Tazo chai gets a kick from black pepper that is not used in Oprah's blend.
  • Oprah's Teavana chai has much stronger notes of cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Oprah chai concentrate features a blend of cinammon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. It is made with both black and rooibos teas, as opposed to the Tazo chai, which only features black tea.
  • Oprah Chai has a less spicy but more bold and complex flavor than the Tazo chai.

For serious chai drinkers, I highly recommend asking for a sample because the flavors are so different.

A portion of each Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Latte purchase goes to Oprah's charity in support of youth education
A portion of each Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Latte purchase goes to Oprah's charity in support of youth education | Source
The color of the matcha makes this drink almost as cool looking as the vanilla rooibos tea latte.
The color of the matcha makes this drink almost as cool looking as the vanilla rooibos tea latte. | Source

Green Tea

  • Matcha powder.
  • Classic syrup.
  • Steamed milk.

The powder in this drink is actually mixed into the milk and the two are steamed together. This ensures that all of the powder gets mixed in. Classic syrup is added to the bottom of the cup, then the matcha/milk mixture is poured in.

Matcha powder is a mixture of crushed up green tea leaves and sugar. With the addition of classic syrup to the mix makes this a very sweet drink. Omitting the syrup can cut down on the sugar and sweetness, but there is no truly sugar-free version since Starbucks matcha powder contains sugar.

Ordering no-foam green tea lattes is a surefire way to make a barista sweat (especially when you order it with soy milk instead of the traditional 2%). It's not that we won't try our best to make the drink just the way you want it (and any seasoned barista is sure to have a method for making this drink with no trace of foam,) but the mixture just has a great tendency to foam up. Don't take offense if your drink has more foam on it than you wanted. Any barista will be happy to try again, but I know from experience that it makes a huge difference if a drink is returned with a smile.

Even fans of this drink or of matcha in general will agree that this is an acquired taste. Matcha has a very earthy flavor. I've heard plenty of people say they think it tastes like grass. I'm personally a big fan and would recommend trying this drink with raspberry or peppermint syrup, if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.

This is matcha. Two scoops go into a tall, three into a grande, and four into a venti green tea latte.
This is matcha. Two scoops go into a tall, three into a grande, and four into a venti green tea latte. | Source

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    • profile image

      Nichole 2 months ago

      I know this is really old, but I'm trying to figure out how to order a chai latte with tea bags and NO concentrate? Will they even do this now that all the lattes are made with pre-packaged concentrates? :( If they will do it, how do I order to ensure I'm getting a real "brewed tea" Latte and not a concentrate latte?

    • profile image

      Anne 2 months ago

      I'm signed up for a special reward offereing and need to purchase a Teavana Tea latte to complete. I've had one before but it was soooo sweet, what ca I change to make it ot so sweet?

    • profile image

      Sophienbeaux 4 months ago

      I just came back from China where black tea lattes are on every Starbucks menu. They are fantastic. What black tea is used? I know it was not an earl grey. And what syrup was used? I would like to order them here in the states but they aren't on the menu so I know I will have to direct them on how to make it. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Makayla 4 months ago

      Hello, I'm really new to Starbucks, actually coffee and teas in general. I never really drank them much before so I've been trying to do a little research to see what I'd like. I want to try a hot tea, but I've had bad luck with trying teas in the past. Not at Starbucks tho. I'm still just "discovering" Starbucks. Anyway, the tea lattes sound pretty good. What would you recommend for someone with a strong sweet tooth and doesn't like bitter drinks? Thank you in advance! Your articles have been helpful in demystifying Starbucks for me.

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 22 months ago from Pittsburgh

      As a new barista, when you start training on bar, you'll learn pretty quickly that we actually start all of our hot drinks by measuring and starting to steam the milk first. We have lines marked in our steaming pitchers to measure the drink sizes.

      In the Green Tea Latte, the preparation varies just a little bit - that's because we steam the matcha in with the milk, to help the powder mix better. This is the only drink that has anything going into the steaming pitcher along with the milk. So, to begin this drink, you would measure your milk to the appropriate size line, then you would add scoops of matcha - 2, 3, 4 for Tall, Grande, Venti - or, another way of looking at it is you add one less scoop than you would add pumps of syrup ( a tall usually gets 3 pumps in a hot drink, so just 2 scoops of matcha). The matcha powder is stirred in with the milk using a steaming pitcher spoon, then the whole mixture is steamed. While it is steaming, you add your Classic syrup to your cup using the standard amount of pumps (3,4,5). Then, when the milk is done, you just pour it like a Latte! Mostly milk with just a scoop of foam on top.

      The Chai Tea Latte ( and the Cinnamon Oprah Chai Latte will follow the same rules) begins again with milk. However, you measure out to one less size than what you are making - if you are making a grande chai tea latte, you only steam milk for a tall. That is because of the water that is added to the concentrate. While your milk is steaming, you pump your syrup - standard 3, 4, 5 pumps - and then you add hot water. Newer stores have a hot water tap right by the bar, but older ones might require you to get hot water from the coffee brewers. You always want to pump your chai first, because you measure the water to where the cup is about halfway full. Then, you add your steamed milk and top with one scoop foam!

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 22 months ago from Pittsburgh

      A Green Tea Latte can definitely be made iced!

      When we make it hot, we measure out our milk, then add in scoops of matcha, then steam the mixture together. This helps the matcha powder dissolve. We add classic syrup (just a liquid sugar sweetener) to the cup before we pour in the mixed/steamed matcha and milk.

      In the iced version, we start with sweetener, then add milk, then ice, then we top it off with matcha powder. Supposedly, putting it on top of the ice makes it mix better. We can't use our shakers to prepare this (can't have dairy in the tea shakers :(, ) so we just swirl the cup and do our best!

    • profile image

      Leeann Garliyo 23 months ago

      What are the full steps to make the Chai Tea Lattes and Green Tea Latte including measurements (ex. Scoops of matcha powder, oz of water, oz of chai concen., etc.), and what about iced preparations. I'm going through my background check and will start as soon as I'm cleared, but I want to start learning the drinks now :)

    • profile image

      Rachel 2 years ago

      What are the steps for making a green tea latte? Can it be made iced?

    • profile image

      mark 2 years ago

      You can find Tazo Earl Grey tea at some grocery stores or you can order them on-line. I usually order a case of 6 boxes at a time from Amazon. And I agree, Tazo is vastly superior to Teavana. I'm also very disappointed that Starbucks switched from Tazo to Teavana.

    • profile image

      Chad 2 years ago

      THANK YOU for this particular Hub page -- I was craving Starbucks today, and wanted something a little different, but wasn't in the mood for a regular latte. I had no idea they could do hot tea lattes until I found this page...and added bonus, I had a Rewards offer for a free tea.

      So my first tea latte? (Super delish, by the way....the London Fog!) Free. Definitely gonna remember this one. Thanks for pointing it out!

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 2 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Allie,

      Adding an extra pump or two to your Chai Tea Latte makes it spicier, but it will add to the sweetness, too. You can also try adding a little extra water - adjusting the amount of water is a popular way to change the potency of the Chai flavor.

    • profile image

      Allie 2 years ago

      Great Article! How would I order a Chai Tea latte extra spicy? Is there a way? I like mine with a lot of spice but I seem to confuse some baristas when I ask!

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 2 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Victoria,

      It is strangely difficult to find, but the kind we served in the store is called a full leaf tea bag. It is sold in tins instead of the cardboard type boxes the filter bags come in.

      Starbucks has Tazo Earl Grey full leaf bags available online, but I'm not sure if you can purchase this style in any kind of store - some licensed store like those found in Target or grocery stores seem to have some stock left - at least in my area.

    • profile image

      victoria 2 years ago

      I miss the Tazo Earl Grey tea bags. They were actually good! I can't find them anywhere in stores, or at least the ones starbucks used. They were actually big and full of tea leaves. The Teavana ones are just...disappointing.

    • profile image

      Grace 2 years ago

      I have just been hired to join the barista team at my local starbucks and let me tell you, this has been such a wonderful and informative "Starbucks Saga". Thank you so so much for sharing! You are an amazing writer. Keep up the good work. :)

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 2 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Katy - we couldn't make the hot teas into a Frappuccino in any real way I can think of. I've had people ask me to blend iced tea for them before, and it kind of makes a slushie texture - but it separates really quick. We could add base to thicken it better, but then it gets super sweet.

      The reason the chai and green tea frappuccinos work out is because they are flavored with a syrup and a powder.

      I've never tried to blend a regular tea latte before - we could maybe try an iced black one because we already have it prepared iced, but we'd definitely have to make it pretty sweet to work out right!

    • profile image

      Katy 2 years ago

      Other than latte form, can you make the teas in a frappuccino form? I noticed the Chai Creme Frap on the Starbucks menu online, so I was wondering if it could be done with the other teas as well. If so, which tea fraps would you recommend? Or is it better to leave it as a latte (hot or cold)?

    • profile image

      Tara 3 years ago

      Well, I can still get a chai tea latte but as you mentioned in your guide they're not made quite the same as the other tea lattes. I think there's not much demand for tea-flavoured drinks in the UK, we tend to just drink tea as it is! Even iced tea is quite hard to get hold of, it's not readily available in supermarkets or anything as I understand it is in the US. (The most recent iced tea I bought came from a Chinese supermarket in fact.) It would be nice to be able to try some of these tea drinks (the tea lattes, iced tea and tea lemonades) as I much prefer tea to coffee... so it's a shame.

      Well you can make some recommendations anyway and I can contact Customer Services again to see if they're available in the UK! It's a shame that there is nowhere that can tell me all the off-menu options that are open to me in UK Starbuckses.

    • mandination profile image
      Author

      mandination 3 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Tara - I had no idea the menu would be so different abroad! We're always told that Starbucks strives to make all of its stores the same, so that travelers can have the same great experience anywhere. I knew that certain things were different from country to country - we've heard stories about a lot of great pastries that are available worldwide, and I understand that different parts of the world would have different tastes... but I didn't know that there were drinks that weren't available worldwide!

      I'm sorry that there are a few things you're unable to get in the UK. I'd love to make some recommendations, but now I'm worried that I don't know your Starbucks' menus well enough!

    • profile image

      Tara 3 years ago

      I first had tea lattes abroad, in China (where they are sometimes known as simply 'milk tea' in English) and later in Japan. Unfortunately I can't get them in my UK Starbucks :( (I contacted Customer Services to check)

    • profile image

      Jess 3 years ago

      I have started putting 2 pumps vanilla and 1 pump raspberry to my Earl Grey Latte. It is amazing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      When I go to Starbucks, I usually get the tea. I've had the London Fog before and it's awesome. But I do aim to try other kinds because it seems like they do a great job making quality tea. Voted up, useful, and awesome!

    • profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago

      Thanks for this... it's cleared up a lot of confusion for me!

    • Lee Tea profile image

      Lee Tea 4 years ago from Erie, PA

      Oh wow, an explanation of the Starbucks tea menu - talk about filling a need! A great service you've done for thousands here, and a well written, informative hub, too. I'm still laughing about your topic - brilliant! Keep up the good help.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 4 years ago

      So informative and helpful! I definitely get confused an Starbucks. It's awesome to read your inside scoop on Starbucks drinks! Thanks for sharing!!

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