Healthy and Sane

Starbucks blogger tea tasting

February 1st, 2009 · 17 Comments · Boston, restaurant reviews

Yesterday was a busy but kind lazy day… does that even make sense? 😉  I was out and about all day but didn’t really do anything super productive – it was fun though!  The highlight of the day was of course the Starbucks blogger tea tasting.  It was scheduled for 11am and I wasn’t sure if they were going to feed us there, so I had a small bite to eat while catching up on blog reading, just so I wouldn’t show up starving…

grapes + crunchy barney butter

I met up with Shannon before the event, and we walked over there together.  It was really nice meeting another Boston blogger and we chatted the entire way there.  Upon arrival at the Starbucks we were greeted by a few other bloggers, including Bridget and Pam … and a few moments later Tina and her husband, Mal, showed up.  We got right down to tea tasting business, though, so there was no time for real chatting until after we were done with tea and pastries.  Speaking of pastries, there was a huge spread of them for us to taste.  Good thing I had my snack before leaving, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to control myself.  I mean, they had cupcakes, scones, muffins, cakes… these are all the things that make me weak 😉  A pretty horrible photo for you (the tasting already began when I snapped this):

Sbux food spread 

First up… the Tazo BlackTea Latte.  This is where I’m absolutely horrible at describing things – the Starbucks pamphlet says it has hints of dark caramel, malt and black cherries.  Honestly I don’t know if I tasted all of that but it was delicious 😉  It was made with 2% milk and sweetened with classic syrup (they use 1oz of syrup for a grande sized cup).  Just like a coffee latte, the tea latte is made with 1/2 tea and 1/2 steamed milk.  I really enjoyed how smooth it was.  I’ve never been a fan of adding milk to my tea (I always drink it black), so it actually surprised me how much I enjoyed the taste of a tea latte.  The syrup made it too sweet though.  I think ordering it unsweetened with skim milk is definitely the way to go!

Tazo black tea latte

It paired very nicely with the suggested apple bran muffin (the healthier option), which had some delicious dry cherries in them.  Starbucks introduced this bran muffin as part of their Start Your Day Right initiative, and I was happy to finally sample this better for you muffin.  I love bran muffins! 

Sbux apple bran muffin

The more indulgent pairing for this was the iced lemon loaf.  I used to eat these like it was my job a few years back (mmm, icing) and just one bite of this treat brought back a lot of NY memories.  I think this latte is “neutral” enough (not in a bland way) that it pairs nicely with just about anything, but I’m not sure why this pound cake specifically was chosen as the recommended pairing.  Hey, I enjoyed it so I’m not complaining! 😀

iced lemon loaf

Next up… Tazo London Fog Tea Latte – (stealing Starbuck’s words again)… a delicate floral blend of fragrant black tea leaves is flavored with the citrusy essense of Italian bergamot and a hint of lavender.  My taste buds were once again overwhelmed by the sweetness of the syrup, so I couldn’t taste the hint of lavender here, but it was again a very smooth tasting latte and the one thing I learned about Starbucks is that they are happy to customize any drink for you, even the fancy sounding ones 😉  So next time I have this, I’ll definitely skip the syrup to really enjoy the real taste of this delicious tea.  I totally dropped the ball on taking pictures of the teas for the rest of the event, but you can pretty much imagine the cup above if you need a visual.  

The London Fog Tea Latte was paired with a mini vanilla bean scone (not a low fat dessert but with portion control can be a nice little treat once in a while).  I got a little excited about trying this guy, so you get to see a picture of a scone that’s been tempered with a little 😉

vanilla bean scone

And for a more indulgent pairing, we tried the raspberry scone.  This was delicious and very buttery.  We all agreed that it was a bit of an add choice for a pairing, but oh my goodness was it delicious!!

raspberry scone

Last latte that we got to taste was the Tazo Vanilla Rooibos (pronounced like roy-bus) Tea Latte.  The taste was nothing like the other two lattes.  It had a very strong honey aroma and had a very complex vanilla/cinnamon/spice flavor.  There was definitely a lot of natural sweetness in this tea, which I really enjoy as a straight up tea drinker.

Food pairings!!   The Vanilla Rooibos naturally went well with another bite of the vanilla bean scone:

vanilla bean scone bite

And the treat I’ve been eyeing the moment we stepped foot in the Starbucks… a red velvet cupcake.  The frosting was a bit on the sugary side for me (what was with me – I typically can’t get enough sugar?) but I’m never complaining when I get to taste cupcakes for breakfast! 😀

red velvet cupcake samples

I had a bite of this little guy:

Sbux red velvet cupcake piece

And from here we moved on to the Tea Infusions, which are made with chai concentrate and steamed juices.

The Tazo Berry Chai Tea Infusion combines, as the name suggests, chai and berry juice.  It had a deep berry color and someone mentioned it tasted a bit like malt wine 😆 It was thick, with an intense berry flavor.  Very intense.  Just one sip was enough for me…. I think watering it down and icing this, would make for a more refreshing drink.

We paired it with the reduced fat blueberry and the reduced fat cinnamon swirl coffee cakes.  Both were so light and fluffy, I wanted to grab the whole cake, turn off all the lights and see what happens 😉  I decided to behave a little more lady-like and just enjoyed a few bites of each (ok, I kind of finished the blueberry piece by the time we were done with the tasting :) ).  PS – don’t let the “reduced fat” name fool you – this maybe lower in fat than some of their other cakes, but it is still a caloric item and should only be enjoyed in moderation if you’re trying to eat healthy.  I REALLY loved it though so it was worth every calorie in my opinion!

Sbux blueberry coffee cake

Sbux reduced fat blueberry coffee cake slice

Sbux reduced fat cinnamon swirl coffee cake slice

And last tea of the day… Tazo Apple Chai Tea Infusion – same idea – 1/2 chai concentrate, 1/2 apple juice and was equally intense and sweet.  The sweetness comes from the chai concentrate and the natural sugars in the apple juice.  No additional sweetener was added.   I’m going to be truthful here, the infused teas are not my cup of tea… hehe 😆  Too intense!  But the lattes are definitely going to become my new obsession, especially since Starbucks provided us with some tea samples and a $10 gift card, so I will definitely be back for more!  Oh, and they were also nice enough to let us each order a latte the way we wanted it.  I went with the Vanilla Rooibos with skim milk and no syrup.  It was still quite sweet so it was like a nice dessert that I got to enjoy for an hour while shopping :)

Sbux Vanilla Rooibois

Thank you Starbucks so much for organizing this!!  It was a great experience and I think it’s a great idea to bring the Boston bloggers closer so we can all enjoy the city and everything it has to offer.

After the lovely tasting event, I met up with my husband for a bit of shopping, followed by a light lunch at Chili Duck Thai Restaurant, a little bit of relaxing in the apartment with a lovely cocktail + snacks and dinner at Cambridge 1, followed by drinks at my parents house.  See what I mean by busy yet lazy?  

Here is the yummy chocolate martini my husband made for me … wouldn’t you pay like $12 for this at a fancy restaurant? 😛

chocolate martini

And another picture of the Kashi oatmeal dark chocolate cookies.  These and Barney Butter (not together) are my new food obsession!

kashi oatmeal choc chip cookie

+ some Annie’s organic cheddar bunnies that jumped in my mouth after all the sugar that was consumed…

Annie's organic cheddar bunnies

I’ll be back later with separate posts featuring lunch + dinner.  Thank you all for reading! 😀

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Mel

    Your Starbucks tasting looks really good! I thought about getting the Vanilla Rooibos latte last time I was there, but didn’t. Now I think I have to! How did you find out about it?

  • #2 - Elina

    Mel, Tina emailed me about it, knowing that I’m a Boston blogger too… and then I forwarded it over to a few other bloggers. It was a lot of fun! You should definitely try the vanilla rooibos latte!

  • #3 - Sharon

    Oh my gosh, tea, tea tea! I love tea, and am totally jealous of your tea adventure! Glad you had a wonderful time!

  • #4 - K

    Oh my goodness – looks like foodie heaven!! Glad you had such a fun time!

  • #5 - Amy

    It looks like you had a great time at the blogger event! Now I’m left with a craving for a slice of coffee cake. It looks so good! :)

  • #6 - Lara

    What a fun post–I felt like I was there! It’s nice to have a little bit of an “insider” perspective, too! Did you happen to get any of the nutrition facts at all? I’m especially curious about that bran muffin…
    Red velvet cake. Wow. That is one of my favorite desserts!
    Very posh-looking martini! Props to your hubby!
    Thank you for your thoughts on the happy weight and sweet tooth discussion! I’ll take your advice and try not to get discouraged with running. Right now I am happy with any progress I make, so hopefully I’ll just keep that mindset. As for the sugar, you’re right, each day is different. I didn’t struggle as much today (hmm, maybe it’s because I gorged so much on it yesterday!). Sigh. We sugarholics need to start an online support group or something!

  • #7 - Elina

    Oh Lara, I totally forgot to talk about nutritional info. They have all nutritionals available on line and for beverages they also have a pamphlet at the front with all the info. They said if you want to know the nutritional information for a food item, you can always ask one of the baristas and they can go online in the back and print it out for you. I thought that was helpful because sometimes if you’re unprepared and don’t have internet access on your phone, asking them for this info is a good idea. The bran muffin is 310 calories and 6 grams of fat. It’s not too bad, I think, especially as a treat.
    I didn’t count calories yesterday, because I didn’t want to stress out about how many bites of each thing I took. I ate about a bite or 2 of each + most of the slice of the blueberry cake… I’m sure it added up to quite a bit but it was fun, so no worries here :)

  • #8 - Jasmine (Sweet and Fit)

    omg….all those pastries/sweets! everything looks wonderful!

  • #9 - not sister inna

    I’m so sad I missed this- it looks like you all had a great time and I’m so anxious to meet some Boston bloggers! NY was great though, and I guess you can’t have it all. Maybe we can try to organize some kind of blogger dinner in March sometime?

  • #10 - Lara

    Thanks for the info, Elina! Good to know the nutrition facts are available, and that bran muffin definitely sounds like a decent choice for the future! Disregard my earlier question about calories…I only just saw this response 😉 Oops.

  • #11 - Bridget

    It was great meeting you Saturday! That was a lot of fun. I’m hoping we can have another Boston blogger get together sometime soon so we can all chat more…I felt like I didn’t really get to talk to you guys as much down at my end of the table.

  • #12 - Katie

    Wish I could have gone with you to the tasting – but I actually got a Vanilla Roobios while I was in NYC so I could give feedback anyway – I thought it was GROSS! Honestly I think the girl making it must have made a mistake because it tasted like vanilla cough syrup – really sweet and fake tasting. Hopefully you had a better experience and can convince me into a 2nd try!

  • #13 - Elina

    Inna, too bad you missed but I’m glad you had fun in New York. We’ll definitely try to oragnize something soon. I want to get more involved with the blogging community in Boston, since I’m officially a blogger now, attending blogger/media events and all 😉

    Bridget, it was really nice meeting you too. I totally didn’t recognize you when I first walked in and then you were all the way at the end of the table. I hope we get together soon in a less formal setting.

    Katie, vanilla cough syrup? That does sound gross! :) They totally make those teas way too sweet. Try it without the syrup next time or maybe try one of the other 2 lattes – they are definitely less naturally sweet.

  • #14 - kate

    Looks like you all had a blast. Wish I could have made it.
    Please let me know if there is a Boston Blogger meet up in the works

  • #15 - Elina

    Kate, I’ll definitely keep you posted of any upcoming events!

  • #16 - HangryPants

    I’ve had the Black Teah Latte twice – once with syrup and once without. Next time I am getting the vanilla roobois!

  • #17 - ttfn300

    Aah, great recap :) it was so great to meet you, and crazy how we live so close! definitely should get together soon

    ps- i think the barney butter would go well with the kashi cookies 😉