Starbucks is unveiling a new set of beverages this month, Tazo Tea Lattes and Tazo Tea Infusions. I snagged one of the coupons that allow you to try one for free, and if there is one thing I'm a total sucker for it's free food and drink. The friendly barista at the Speer location (the one handily situated next to Le Bakery Sensual, so you can get your coffee and penis cakes in one quick trip) explained that the Tea Lattes were made by infusing a tea of your choosing in hot water and then adding steamed milk at a 50/50 ratio. A flavored syrup brings some sweetness to the drink. The Tea Infusions, available hot or cold, are brewed in juice or cider. Since I'm cutting back on caffeine, I went with the Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte, made with a naturally caffeine-free tea. When my friend lamented her lack of coupon, the barista whipped one out for her and upgraded the size on both our drinks. Sa-weet!
At first sip, the beverage tastes a lot like a mildly flavored steamed milk. Nothing bad, but nothing outrageous. The tea bag, which is a hefty mesh packet filled with looseleaf tea leaves, remains in the drink, so the strength of the tea grows the longer you let it steep. By the time I was near the end of my drink, the tea flavor had really grown and rounded out the bland sweetened milk. My advice: let it mellow awhile. The Tea Lattes will appeal to anyone who likes their tea sweet and milky. I don't think this will replace my daily (decaf...sigh) coffee, but it is an interesting alternative to a chai tea.
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One more note: if you were lucky enough to snag one of the coupons floating around, you'll notice there's a second coupon attached allowing you to get a tall tea drink for $2 after 2:00 pm all throughout February. Hold onto that coupon! It's reusable and can be redeemed indefinitely all next month.
-- Liz Kellermeyer