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Starbucks Tazo Tea: A Detailed Guide

Updated on March 20, 2015
The original Starbucks logo and name
The original Starbucks logo and name | Source

When Starbucks was first founded in 1971, it was originally called "Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spices." Throughout the years the name has been shortened repeatedly, and now "Starbucks" is a household name. Even though the word "tea" was dropped from the name, it certainly wasn't dropped from the company! Many people are unaware of the vast amount of teas that Starbucks offers, which brings me to my detailed and illustrated journey through Starbucks Tazo teas.

Tazo Tea®

If you've ever ordered a cup of tea at Starbucks, you've probably noticed the quirky logo on the tea bag. That's the logo for "Tazo Tea Company." It was founded in 1994 and is based out of Portland, OR. The founders of Tazo teamed up with Starbucks in 1998, and was eventually purchased by Starbucks in 1999 for $8.1 million. Tazo produces an immense variety of tea, grouped into different families: black tea, green tea, and herbal infusions. Tazo also offers white teas, but you won't find those in your local Starbucks.

Herbal Infusions

Though often referred to as “herbal teas,” these blends contain none of the leaf Camellia sinesis and are, therefore, not true teas at all. Their botanical ingredients, however, can be marvelous and varied. Flowers, roots, peels, seeds, barks, berries and spices are sourced from around the world to create Tazo® herbal infusions. The herbal teas that Starbucks currently offers are: Calm, Vanilla Rooibos, Passion, and Refresh.

  • Calm: A full-leaf herbal tea blend of chamomile, rose petals and soothing herbs. Starbucks' only traditional chamomile tea. Very light and smooth. Pairs well with citrusy snacks. Tasting notes include: creamy, floral, and toasty sweet.
  • Vanilla Rooibos: This full-leaf herbal infusion combines creamy African rooibos with licorice root, cinnamon and real fruit pieces. Slight hints of vanilla, apples, and peaches. Slightly sweet, it goes perfectly with milk. A rich tea with fruity undertones. Tasting notes include: herbs, vanilla, fruit, and cinnamon.
  • Passion: A deep-red infusion of hibiscus flowers, lemongrass, papaya, mango and passion fruit essence. A bit tart, goes well with raspberry. Most often described as a bold, herbal, fruity tea. Tasting notes include: juicy berries, wine-like, and earthy.
  • Refresh: A full-leaf herbal tea blending Pacific Northwest-grown mint leaves with a hint of licorice-sweet tarragon. The peppermint and spearmint perfectly balance the strong tarragon flavor. It's the only Tazo tea that's made with ingredients that are all grown in the US. Great hot or iced. Tasting notes include: mint and creamy sweetness.

Green Tea

Green tea is the most light and delicate of the three tea families at Starbucks.To make green tea, plucked Camellia sinensis leaves are air-dried, steamed or pan-fired to neutralize natural oxidizing enzymes in the leaf, causing it to retain its green color and fresh vegetative flavor. Tazo green teas that Starbucks currently offers are: Zen, China Green Tips, and Orange Blossom.

  • Zen: A blend of full leaf green teas with spearmint and lemon flavors. Very smooth, with a slight hint of spearmint. A nice combination of lemongrass, lemon verbena, and mint. Tasting notes include: earthy, lemony, minty, and sweet
  • China Green Tips: A more traditional green tea. No mint undertones, just a light springy green tea. Somewhat vegetative, it has a nice sweet finish. Tasting notes include: grassy, vegetative, and sweet rice.
  • Orange Blossom: A blend of green tea, refreshing citrus notes, and sweet herbs. It's a blend of full leaf jasmine green tea, gogi berries, and tangerine peel. A less traditional green tea. Tasting notes include: floral, citrus, and sweet licorice.

Black Tea

Black teas are known to be incredibly versatile, with strong flavors that are capable of standing up to healthy[or, unhealthy!] doses of cream and sugar. Black teas are made from the fully fermented leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant. To make premium black tea, leaves are plucked by hand, then crushed and tightly rolled to release an enzyme that, when exposed to oxygen, begins the fermentation process and changes the leaves to a bright coppery color. Tazo black teas that Starbucks currently offers are: Awake, Earl Grey, and Chai.

  • Awake: A full leaf black breakfast tea. Most often described as a more "traditional" hot tea, it's perfect for your fist cup of the day. Slightly strong, it pairs well with cream and sugar. Tasting notes include: dark cherries and malt.
  • Earl Grey: Also a full leaf black breakfast tea. Stronger than the Awake, it is not for those with faint taste buds. Somewhat spicy. It's infused with bergamot, a slightly lemon-tasting fruit. Tazo's version of an English Breakfast Tea. Tasting notes include: floral, spicy lavender, and lemon.
  • Chai: A spicy full leaf tea. A popular tea that originated in India. Brewed strong, milk and sugar compliment the spices. Somewhat creamy, with a hint of sweetness. Tasting notes include: cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and a blend of spices.

These teas are all available to purchase by the cup, or by the box. Each box contains 15 tea bags and costs around $7. Don't be afraid to blend flavors, try them iced, or pair them with great snacks to bring out more flavor. What are you waiting for? Your perfect cup of tea is out there!


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    • hpedneau profile image

      Holly Pedneau 5 years ago from Princeton, West Virginia

      That's very strange! I looked on the Starbucks website, and they actually only have the boxed paper bags. The Tazo webpage does sell them, but they're currently out of stock. It's $6.95 on the website, which is actually a dollar cheaper than it is in the store I work in! The Starbucks in my area only carries the tea in the tins, so you may wanna check a few different stores. Tazo is owned by Starbucks , but it is sold in tons of different stores too. Plus there is also EBay!

    • profile image

      OLIVIA PECK 5 years ago

      I am having problems finding TAZO Calm Tea in tin in Manhattan Starbucks stores. The silk tea bags and full buds provide greater feeling of Calm than the boxed paper tea bags with no buds. Where can I order?

    • mandination profile image

      Amanda W 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Great guide! I'm a barista at Starbucks and I love Tazo teas. I love learning more about the teas I serve, and you provided me with a lot of new information in this hub.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      With vanilla sounds delish! Will have to try it iced too. I never had it that way! Thanks!

    • hpedneau profile image

      Holly Pedneau 6 years ago from Princeton, West Virginia

      Since you like Chai tea, you should try it sweetened with vanilla and if you haven't tried it iced I would highly recommend that as well!Thanks for the feedback!

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 6 years ago from Chicago IL

      I'm a Starbucks addict. I'm more into the coffees but I do love their zen tea. I have lately been hooked on Chai tea. I never really gotten into the other flavors or blended any teas before but I'll have to try that now. I voted up and useful. :)