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Starbucks Tazo Tea: A Detailed Guide
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.
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.
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 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 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!