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.”
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.
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.