There are two loves in my life. One is Sleep (we’re in a long-term relationship), and the other one is Starbucks (when Sleep and I are on the rocks). But recently, problems have been brewing in our relationship -- I was starting to find Starbucks a bit lackluster and alas, I was beginning to visit other cafes.
But then Teavana (Starbucks’ newest range of drinks) was launched last week, as if in a desperate bid to save our relationship, so I thought perhaps it was a sign to give our love a second chance.
A portmanteau of ‘Tea’ and ‘Nirvana’, this new range of quirky tea concoctions aims to woo the hearts of tea lovers who want something different from their usual bubble tea (and perhaps try to convert a few coffee die-hards out there!).
Teavana’s main lineup is a set of three drinks that is to become part of Starbucks’ permanent menu. Here’s a quick glance: The Matcha & Espresso Fusion is a tea and coffee blend, whereas the Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit & Honey is new twist on the classic ‘Sweet Tea’. Lastly, the Hibiscus Tea with Pomegranate Pearls is Starbucks’ atas bubble tea. It's a rather good first offering – nothing too strange-sounding and also nothing too similar to what’s already out there.
Sounds good? Sounds weird? Can’t decide which one to try out? Well, I won’t tea-se you any longer – I’ve reviewed all three for you below!
Matcha & Espresso Fusion
This first drink is quite a tossup, looking at first glance to be a very expensive yuan yang drink. Tea purists would probably cringe at the thought of mixing tea and coffee together whereas newbies to tea (who come to Starbucks for other drinks) might be reassured by the addition of espresso – which gives the drink a familiar taste.
Truthfully, this drink is probably the ‘safest’ out of the three. That’s not to say that it’s boring though, because this baby actually hits all the right notes. Given how the espresso shot used here is actually a long espresso (or Lungo), the milder coffee taste ensures that you still taste the matcha, and in fact, allows the two flavours to fuse in your mouth quite pleasantly.
Tried for the Insta-worthy shot...but I was not worthy.
It’s also the most hyped up drink on Instagram. It comes to you with the espresso just poured on top of the base drink. Hence, you get to see three layers of colours: the green matcha, the white milk and the brown espresso. If photographed properly (unlike mine, I moved the drink too much until the milk mixed in *sob*), the resulting picture would definitely be Insta-worthy.
The Matcha & Espresso Fusion gets 4 out of 5 tea-rrific teapots:
Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit & Honey
This was the drink that started it all for me. I was given a sample while I was window shopping one day, and I liked it so much that I actually followed the nice Starbucks employee back to the store so I could buy a full-sized one!
Don't be fooled - it's a cup full of rainbows and sunshine.
I know, it looks so normal right? But don’t be fooled by its simple appearance! This drink is literally Summer-in-a-Cup: crisp, refreshing, and perfect for those unbearably hot days. The honey added also brings a unique sweetness to the drink that your standard sugar syrup doesn't. However, some might feel that adding the sugar syrup is necessary as the grapefruit undertones do tend to leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste. This could be because (and much to my surprise!) real grapefruit slices are included in the drink. The grapefruit flavor is strong in this one!
This drink is also the most versatile in the range. It’s available at either hot or cold, and if you have it cold, you can have it iced or sparkling. I had the iced version, but I imagine the sparkling version is something like a mocktail - judging from the ones I’ve seen other customers holding. Plus, the fizziness is sure to add an extra zing to your drink.
The Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit & Honey gets 4 out of 5 tea-rrific teapots:
Hibiscus Tea with Pomegranate Pearls
This one sounded the most unique to me. Personally, floral-infused drinks are, shall we say, not my cup of tea, because the floral scent always makes me think I'm drinking perfume. But I eventually caved in and just had to try this one because of the mysterious ‘pomegranate pearls’, which I had never heard of.
Can you see the tiny pearls at the bottom of the cup?
Long story short, the pomegranate pearls are indeed the star of the show. Unlike tapioca pearls which are chewy, these pearls are like small bubbles that pop in your mouth, each time releasing small bursts of sweetness. Think Ondeh Ondeh but instead of molten Gula Melaka, you get liquid candy!
People curious about the ‘hibiscus’ part of the drink might be disappointed though, as I could neither taste anything near floral, nor smell any fragrance apart from the pomegranate. That said, aside from the pearls, this drink was rather meh. At $6.90 for a Tall drink, it’s also quite expensive. The price can probably be attributed to the fact that the pearls are custom-made by Starbucks (or at least according to the barista behind the counter), and that they have to be made regularly as they have a short shelf-life.
The Hibiscus Tea with Pomegranate Pearls gets 3 out of 5 tea-rrific teapots:
It's no parTEA but it's definitely worth trying the Teavana drinks at least once! If not, just order a frappe next time, it might turn out to be more bang for your buck. In the end, this second chance lasted just that long – a second.