A Tea Drinker’s Frustration With Starbucks





Currently hydrating with watermelon frescas

Let, it be known, I am not a coffee drinker. Never have been, and I don’t think I ever will be. I loooove the smell of coffee- that first whiff of air when you walk into a cafe is just. so. yummy. But I have never quite warmed up to the intense, bitter flavor of a cup of joe. Part of me is also terrified that if  do start drinking it, I will get hooked, because, who couldn’t use a kick of caffeine every now and then… or daily.

What I am hooked on (like at least 3 cups a day, or I feel like a piece of me is missing) is tea. Coffee shops are everywhere. Tea shops? Not so much. But the tea trend is on the rise, so stay tuned. When I’m out and about, and need a cup of tea, typically, Starbucks is the most convenient option. It’s quick, and it’s on every corner. The selection for tea drinkers has historically been lacking. One of my favorite purveyors of tea has been Teavana, so when they began partnering with Starbucks a while back, I was thrilled. I thought, “Yes! Maybe this will up Starby’s tea game!”. Let’s just say I was wrong. On a recent trip to the land of the green mermaid, I went in for a nice hot cup of tea from the Teavana line, but when I read the tea tins they had on the sale, I was so disappointed. As someone who tries to live well and eat a clean, wholesome diet, it only make sense that I avoid artificial ingredients. Several of the teas by Teavana sold at Starbucks contain “artificial flavors”. WHY does my tea have to have artificial ingredients? I know how wonderful a completely natural cup of tea tastes, so any artificial flavor would be unnecessary, and quite frankly, unwanted.


Hear me out: there are some blends of tea at Starbucks that don’t contain artificial flavors (Jade Citrus Mint, Royal English Breakfast, and Oprah Chai- thanks, Oprah) but for us tea drinkers, the selection is even more narrow if we are trying to avoid consuming artificial ingredients.

Moving on to the next reason Starbucks seriously bums me out in the beverage department: their matcha. Yes, matcha is so great for your health and wellbeing. And as someone who drinks it daily and has been obsessed since the my early high school days (which was a while ago #matchahipster), I would not recommend Starbucks as the place to get a daily matcha fix. I will admit, I get it as a treat every now and then, but in terms of the health benefits their matcha holds, tummy satisfaction is about the only benefit.

The matcha that Starbucks uses comes presweetened. This means that even if you order your green tea latte unsweetened, that matcha is still packed with sugar. The matcha powder used by Starbucks contains this ingredient list: sugar, matcha. Sugar comes first!! I am bummed that sugar is even involved at all! Matcha acts as an anti-inflammatory, where sugar is inflammatory. Putting them together  lessens matcha’s awesome benefits.  If you are going to enjoy a cup of matcha, please look for a product line or cafe who uses a matcha that is made from only the ground tea leaves, or a beneficial add-in, like ginger pieces.


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A tip for drinking tea and matcha in general: Do not drink it with dairy if you want to get the antioxidant benefits from the tea. Whether you add a splash of milk like the British, or order a matcha latte, the casein in milk binds to the catechins (an antioxidant compound found in tea), which causes them remain unabsorbed by the body. Drink your tea plain, or order your tea latte with a dairy free milk to reap all the antioxidant benefits tea has to offer!

As a tea drinker, I will not typically go to  Starbucks to get my tea fix. What would it take to get me to feel better about ordering a beverage from the coffee giant, you ask?   First, Teavana should remove the “artificial flavor” from each and every tea selection that contains this pesky ingredient. Second, Starbucks must find a matcha producer that does not add any sweetener to their matcha powder. That way, we can all drink to our health.

What do you think about Starbucks? Love it, hate it, or do you fall somewhere in between? Sound off below!

XO, Alexandra


8 thoughts on “A Tea Drinker’s Frustration With Starbucks

  1. I like Starbucks for coffee, but tea has always been my favorite and the options for tea are sorely lacking. Sometimes I get an Earl Grey Latte. Love your blog, look forward to following!

    1. Sadie, thank you so much for stopping by! The Earl Grey Latte never disappoints! You are so right-Starbucks does need more tea options!! If I’m really in the mood for a great cup of tea, I know I will be waiting until I am at home, where I know there is a wide variety of really good teas. Maybe I will start bringing my own tea to Starbucks and just ask for hot water?

  2. I prefer all my food groups to be without any artificial anything, like my plants, I like my stuff to be REAL, NOT artificial, I am done with all the food companies killing us slowly with all their “additives”, back to basics PEOPLE, the world must change stand up for your RIGHTS…….repeat after me, NO MORE ARTIFICIAL ANYTHING!!!, oh by the way, labels on everything, thank you. 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on greentealicious and commented:
    Wow! I didn’t know Starbucks used presweetened matcha!
    But is that the case with all Starbucks stores across the globe?

    And about the milk proteins binding to the antioxidants, there’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding that which I find very interesting!

    Yes, they do bind in vitro, but conclusions are different when looking at trials in humans.
    In those who had milk with their green tea, the milk didn’t seem to affect antioxidant activity in the plasma vs those that didn’t have milk with their tea.
    And one reason for the difference in results is that normal GI digestion appears to minimize the impact of specific protein interactions.

    1. Hi nurilen! I’m not sure if this is the case for Starbucks internationally (would love to get a matcha at a Starbucks in Japan!), but it is the case for the US. You bring up some really great points about the studies regarding milk proteins and antioxidants in tea-this subject really interests me. It is controversial, and there are studies on both sides with convincing results. I know there are a few studies that point out that milk proteins appear to block the vasodilation effects from tea, as well. It’s just another one of those subjects where the jury is out, and we will have to stay tuned for more research! (kind of like coconut oil or intermittent fasting). In the meantime, I’m just going to sit and enjoy a cup of matcha 🙂

      1. Hear, hear!
        Funnily enough, the only Starbucks matcha latte I’ve ever had was from a Starbucks in Shinjuku, Japan. That was two years ago, but the taste of a good matcha latte is something you don’t easily forget. 😀

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