Tea Time At Starbucks

On January 3rd, Starbucks rolled out a quintet of new Tazo full leaf tea beverages that are now available in all stores nationwide. Yesterday the coffee chain hosted "TeaTime events", which is a civilized way of saying "free samples". I headed to the most scenic of our Starbucks, at 14th Street and Ocean Drive, where store manager Christian García graciously offered me tastes of all five.

Two of the new drinks, Berry Chai Infusion and Apple Chai Infusion, are made by steaming black tea with fruit juices (the former with aronia berry and black currant) and sweet chai spices such as cinnamon and cloves. These also come iced, which I found to be even more refreshing.

The other trio of offerings come as thick-foamed lattes, so tea-drinkers need no longer suffer the dreaded whipped milk envy as their cohorts quaff cappuccinos (lattes are made with choice of 2% or nonfat milk). Vanilla Rooibos Latte is the only caffeine-free infusion, a sweet and delicious -- if not very tea-like -- blend of botanicals, Tahitian vanilla, fruits, cinnamon and steamed milk. For a more serious sip, the London Fog and Black Tea lattes are ideally prepared takes on, respectively, Earl Grey and English Breakfast. The Fog is the more complex of the two, with hints of citrusy bergamot, lavender, and vanilla.

Teas come in same cups and sizes as the coffees (photo above is of tea). Lattes run $2.95/$3.60/$3.95; infusions are $2.45/$2.80/$3.15. No hype here: If you enjoy a cuppa tea, I think you will really like these.

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