Tale of Teas

Since I started working at Starbucks, I've spent a lot of my time talking about coffee. However, I realized tea just isn't getting enough coverage. And you know what...it totally should! I love tea. Tea was a beverage I enjoyed even before coffee. I must attribute my enjoyment of hot tea to my sister. She taught me to add sugar and milk to my black tea - the British way.

Anyway, tea isn't just a terrific drink to have during the cold weather to keep you warm. Nay, it's also quite delicious during the summer as iced tea. Although, I must admit my preference is for hot tea. That said, let's talk about some teas I enjoy...

  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: This is mostly a Southern California chain and their best product is the tea lattes. Heather Richardson introduced me to these lovely tea lattes when I visited LA (a long time ago now). The first favorite was the English Breakfast tea latte. They also had a lemon chamomile tea latte in the springtime. My all-time favorite is the Winter Dream tea latte, which is only available during the winter month (shocking, Winter tea only during winter). The thing that makes the tea lattes so special is this magic vanilla (or chocolate in some) powder that you add to the brewed tea and before adding the frothy milk. Since I knew the ingredients, I thought I could whip up some up of these wonderfully delicious drinks myself at home. While down in SoCal for the holidays, I picked up some of the vanilla powder. Sadly I couldn't find the Winter Dream tea. Luckily Josh's parents came to the rescue and sent us some. My creations are very similar to the in-store drink (perhaps not quite the same, but pretty dang good).

  • Starbucks Loose Teas: This is the latest and greatest at Starbucks. We just released all our teas in loose leaf tea bags. These bags are so much better than the compact, little bags we carried previously. The loose bags allow the tea to disperse and steep, so there is just more flavor burst. We had three teas available in loose bags before the release that were used for our tea lattes - these we didn't have out for purchase in boxes. Now, all teas are loose bag and available for purchase. Now, I can get my favorite tea and bring it home. My favorite is Vanilla Rooibos. It's an herbal, naturally caffeine free tea. It's decent as a latte, but I like it just brewed with a bit of sugar-free vanilla. I just bought it yesterday with my markout.

  • Starbucks Chai Latte: This is still at our stores even though we had the tea bag renovation (mentioned above). It's similar to Oregon Chai in that both are basically a syrup. We add hot water to it to activate the "spices" and then top it off with steamed milk. This is one of my classic favorites, especially adding a bit of vanilla. I enjoy this more than Oregon Chai as it seems to have more spice, yet it's still sweet (you know some chai lattes can be uber spicy).

  • MyChai: This is a local chai from Bend, OR. A few places offer it on their beverage line-up: Full City and Market of Choice. I even like this better than Starbucks Chai (shh, don't tell). It has a bit more bite (spicy) and still slightly sweet, but it's a perfect blend. Sadly, you cannot purchase it to bring home. A in-store enjoyment only.

  • Evening Decaf Tea Options:Β Good Earth Decaf Vanilla Chai is my favorite.Β This is just a tea brand you can get at the grocery store, but it's quite good. I first had it in New Haven at Lindsay's apartment. This is great just before bed since it's decaf. I just add a drop of milk and splenda. I enjoy it almost every night. The second runner up is Celestial Seasoning's Sweet Coconut Thai Decaf tea. That's pretty good too - it's more exotic tasting. Beth and Chris had this tea at their place and that's were I discovered this option. Besides these, I've tried other decaf vanilla chai teas and they just don't quite cut it. (Caroline gave me some German teas for Christmas too which I've been enjoying, but those are a Christmas speciality and hard for me to buy for everyday consumption).

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about my tea drinking. Let's face it though, I've got good taste (wink wink). Plus, you've now taken a step into my life and what I drink in the evenings (besides a large sparkling water).

Josh and I shared some tea during lunch on our mini-trip to Portland over the weekend. Here's a funny photo of us with the tea pot...

Silk Lunch - Pearl District