UPDATED: Functional “Secret Menu” drinks from Starbucks

Functional Drinks at Starbucks

UPDATED: Starbucks has fully rolled out Teavana teas in their stores, a big but pleasant change. I will give my recommendations below, especially for the increasingly popular “Medicine Ball.”

Synergy of beverage and composing

Synergy of beverage and composing

Starbucks can make countless drinks that are off the menu. The most popular are really sweet novelties trying to taste like candy bars, and are usually blended, but some are very useful for when you need a big push or are feeling under the weather. They help you get through those challenging times, so I call them functional drinks.

UPDATE: Starbucks acquired Teavana some time ago. While the relationship has slowly been developing between the two, Starbucks only recently completely replaced their Tazo lineup with Teavana teas.





As your very own Blogrista, and having been asked about these drinks numerous times, I want to clue you in on them. Here are a few of those not-so-secret “secret menu” drinks in order of what I think are most helpful.


The Medicine Ball

Also known as “Sick Tea,”  “Coldbuster,” and a few other names, drink will sooth sore throats and sinuses and is a barista go-to. It consists of half steeped hot tea with water and half steamed lemonade.

With the Teavana lineup, Starbucks tall size (small) comes with one teabag, while the grande and venti sizes (medium and large) come with two. So you can mix and match. For the new and revised medicine ball I recommend a bag of Mint Majesty and a bag of Peach Tranquility. If you like it sweeter, combine the Mint with Pineapple Kona Pop. If you can handle just a little bit of caffeine, combine the Mint with Youthberry, which is a white tea (my favorite pair), or Jade Citrus Mint, a green tea.

I don’t recommend full lemonade. The water helps the tea steep better, tastes better, is hotter, and healthier. Add a little honey for its anti-microbial effects. If you really want to clear the sinuses too, add a pump of peppermint. You’ll want to sip this drink as hot as possible and drink the whole thing.

The Chai Tea-Latte (without sugar)

Chai lattes are made with Starbucks sweet chai syrup and milk. But a tea-latte can be made with any loose-leaf tea bag, half water, half steamed milk, and any sweetener you might want to add.

UPDATE: Teavana’s new loose-leaf chai (Oprah Chai) has no sugar but is the delicious blend of spices with black and rooibos (a.k.a. “red”) teas, a barista can just steep this in hot water and add steamed milk to make a naturally sugar-free chai latte. I don’t recommend icing this drink because it will take at least 5 minutes to make it and will taste weak, but it is possible.

Just point at the tea bags on the wall if anyone is confused. “That chai, not the syrup, please.”

What’s with Oprah and this tea?

I won’t go into the details but the partnership between Oprah, Teavana, and Starbucks is a good thing, contributing to the education of our nation’s youth as well as yumminess.

The Red/Black/Purple/etc.-Eye

These are simply brewed coffee with shots of espresso added. One shot is a “red-eye,” two shots a “black-eye,” etc. A grande (medium) cup of coffee has about 330 mg of caffeine already. Starbucks is one of the strongest brewed cups around. Since each shot is about 75 mg, you can keep adding and do the math, but it doesn’t take more than 2 shots to have a crazy strong drink.


These aren’t exactly helpful but they are the only blended drinks that are non-dairy or soy. They are  just fun tributes to Icees and Slurpees. Lemonade blended with ice, any syrup flavor, and creme frappuccino base. Raspberry is pretty good, and dark cherry is awesome when it’s in season.


There you have it. Try them out the next time you really feel the need for more than the standard fair.


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  1. NativeAmericant says:

    just went to Starbux and they had no clue what a medicine ball was, SMH at how horrible those”baristas” are. Then got attitude after I explained to them what it was (they hate outside information/ know-it-alls) and one employee made a joke to a fellow, while I watched the whole time. At least we were trained properly at The Coffee Bean and that place was just “ok.” Good for a corporate chained coffee shop I guess.

    • I’m sorry that you were given that bad attitude. It’s a different drink from the norm, but it’s not any more complicated to make than any other tea latte. Unfortunately, I have had bad experiences like that at some locations, but usually it does not go that way. It kind of depends on the individual person you’re dealing with, but you shouldn’t have to put up with that. Maybe give it a try at another store? But oftentimes it’s helpful to just say what you want in the drink instead of dropping the name, because in certain regions they will not have heard of the “medicine ball” nickname.

      • NativeAmericant says:

        I stated Peppermint and Chamomile tea first, then brought up how we call it a medicine ball as a nickname and got the “Ive never heard” blah blah shit talkin, Im over it. Starfux always live up to their name.

    • Jordan Michelle says:

      I’m actually a barista there. We aren’t horrible. We just aren’t allowed to type in secret menu drinks, we aren’t allowed to recognize them. If you have the recipe we can make it, of our computer allows us to put it in the way you are requesting. We all laugh and are friendly while working, does not mean we make fun of you guys. We just do our jobs. Try to remember when you go in next that we do what we can.

      • Velvetysmooth26 says:

        Jordan, while most of you may be nice and are doing your jobs; there are those that are down right disrespectful! I had a Batista refuse to make the cold buster because she didn’t know what it was and I was ordering it by ingredient not just name! I was pleasant, patient & let ppl skip me in line so there wouldn’t be a crowd behind me so she wouldn’t feel rushed but she STILL pawned me off on someone else saying and I quote “can someone please help the girl cause she’s getting on my nerves with all this mess…” The NICE ones aren’t as plentiful as you might think!!

      • Brittany Christine says:

        I agree with you Jordan. I to am a barista and its true.. We aren’t allowed to make any drinks unless people have the ingredients for that particular drink.

        • Thistle Thorne-Webber says:

          This is funny to me, ‘cos I learned about the Medicine Ball drink just the other day. How? The barista at SB suggested it! Different rules at different locations?

    • Sorry you feel that way but you can’t expect baristas to know EXACTLY whqt you want unless you state whwt you want via the ingredients my friends work at starbucks and I understand their frustrations with idiots like you I bet you even pronounce espresso as Expresso Just say what you
      For example a Sweet Mint Pineapple Kona Pop

      Order like this
      Venti Pineapple Kona Pop
      One Pump Mint
      One Pump Classic

      In fact do this next time you get a drink
      Look at the cup and see what they write on it that’s how you should order any drink that is not on the menu.

    • Howard Lew says:

      I have had the same “snotty” attitude from “Baristas”…no wonder people use the drive through, besides being lazy asses…Thinking back, ever since the beginning, Starbuck baristas (fast food employees basically), have always had an attitude. I miss Seattle’s Best stores. Their coffee was also not toxically strong, making it an addictive drug…I figured it out………

  2. I would love to give this a try!

  3. I am currently feeling a cold coming on so I decided to try the medicine ball. Not quite sure how it tastes yet cause it’s too hot for me right now but omg…it smells divine!!!

  4. Velvetysmooth26 says:

    I tried the “cold buster” as I saw it o.k. the secret menu site with the jade citrus mint and peach tranquility; I didn’t see the other variations but I donut even want to try them, I’m in love with the “original” recipe. I drink it from time to time without a cold ( it even tastes okay cold ) Thank You for the recipe!

  5. Really wish people would stop spreading these whole “secret menu” lists around. I work at a chain coffee store, and had a girl come in asking for a medicine ball. If it’s not on our menu, we don’t know what it is, so why do people get mad when we state we don’t know what it is?! Turns out she writes a Yelp review how pissed off she was that we didn’t know what it was, or if we knew if it could damage the machines.

  6. I just got a Coldbuster from a Starbucks in Ramona (small town) and I love it! The barristas were a little confused at first but once I showed them the recipe on the secret menu website they figured it out. Definitely worth the wait!

  7. This is my new fave drink from SB! I’ve had a bit of trouble ordering it though- good to know that I need to order by ingredients not a “name”. My order is-
    Vente passion-jade citrus mint tea with two honey- heavy lemon (half steamed
    Lemonade)- I’ve had about 5 of these in the past 4 days…

  8. Janet Carballo says:

    Went into Von’s Starbucks off Indian Truck Trail after hearing about the Medicine Ball in Menifee Starbucks. Both places knew exactly what it was and made me one. Sure helps if your sick. TheMenifee barista recommended it. He probably saw how sick I was. Thank you

  9. Vicki L Smith says:

    Wish I knew about this a week ago….can’t wait to try it.

  10. Maryann A. says:

    Today on the ‘Today’ show all of the hosts were drinking the SB medicine ball. So I went into my favorite SB and asked for the medicine ball just like that and they were wonderful. They said they had the recipe and made it without any complaint. I live in a relatively small town where it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t know but lucky for me they did and the drink is delicious!

  11. Krystal Davis says:

    I have had the flue for two days and decided to stop by SB to get the “Med Ball” my sister stated I should get. The Barista stated they did not have all the original ingredients, but offered me a substitution that was similiar. This included Green Tea, Mint Tea, Citrus Pumps, and Agave. Whatever they did, it was just perfect and I welcomed the flavors. I am glad to know that the Barista’s can come up with quick alternatives that still have you coming back for more.

  12. Medicine Ball was recommended to me by SB cashier – I was looking for something soothing while Christmas shopping. It’s my new fav afternoon/ night drink. Can someone tell me where to buy the Jade Citrus & peach tranquility tea? I went to Teavana but they didn’t have it …now this is a bad business model!
    If there are good alternatives to these please let me know. Thx!!


  1. […] From the name of my blog you can probably guess that I appreciate a GREAT cup-o-Joe. However, I have also had a secret love affair with tea leaves. I was surfing around the net and came across a recipe on the Starbucks site for the COLD BUSTER that left me with a hankering for some warm tea. Check out this site and learn about a good drink for the winter months. […]

  2. Blend Blog says:

    Mint Majesty Herbal Tea

    […] confused at first but once I showed them the recipe on the secret menu website t […]

  3. […] to starbuckssecretmenu.net the drink was created by barista Matthew L. and went public on his blog. This cure-all consists of two types of Teavana tea, steamed lemonade, and honey. Check out the […]

  4. Mint Majesty Herbal Tea

    […] buster from a Starbucks in Ramona (small town) and I love it! The barristas were […]

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