Movable Feast: Iced tea drinks

We’re big coffee drinkers here at the Current, but once in a while, waiting in line for our venti cappuccinos we’ll catch sight of tea offerings on the menu board that sound intriguing. And with summer in the offing, we figured some of the iced tea beverages deserved a sip.
We went for chai and green tea since they sounded exotic, and while we’re not likely to make the switch from our beloved bean anytime soon, we did get a taste of how the other half drinks. And it’s really not so bad.

Iced Tazo Chai Latte
Starbucks
$3.30 for a grande

Mild, sweet and milky describes this inoffensive tea alternative from the coffee giant. We detected hints of cinnamon and cardamom here, and maybe a whisper of ginger, but the overall impression was bland and even a little watery. And though it’s called a latte, what we want to know is, where’s the foam?

Blackberry Green Tea Frappuccino blended creme
Starbucks
$3.80 for a grande

Okay, so this is more of a dessert than a beverage but we can think of few better pick-me-ups for that mid-afternoon-on-a-Monday slump. In looks alone it’s invigorating—a thick grass green shake topped with snowy whipped cream and a drizzle of blackberry syrup. Beyond the sugar hit, you’ll catch a trace of the tea’s herbaceous earthiness—Starbucks uses Japanese matcha (ground green tea leaves)—but to really appreciate its slightly bitter flavor you’ll need to seek out a purer rendition.

Tazo Green Iced Tea
Starbucks
$1.80 for a grande

After a long brisk walk on a recent warm day, we were beat, we were hot and we wanted a refreshing, cool, light drink. This was the answer. Nothing too fancy here—just a basic icead tea drink, not too sweet, not too “green,” and ice-cold. Plus, unlike most other Starbucks drinks, it was ready in less than a minute.

Iced Chai Latte
Bucks County Coffee Co.
$3.90 for a grand
e

Even the skim milk in this drink couldn’t mask the rich and creamy flavor of the Bucks chai. It’s not as sweet as Starbucks’ chai, and for the same price, Bucks gives you more chai for your buck. This tasty summer treat tastes of cardamom, cumin and clove and also boasts a substantial layer of foam on top—just as a true latte should.

Jasmine Green Bubble Tea
Bubble House
$3.25

Cool and clear with those odd—and oddly appealing—black tapioca pearls that are Bubble House’s stock-in-trade, this is a tea for the first day of summer, or the first 80-degree day of May. We asked for it lightly sweetened and that’s just what we got, the smidgen of sugar heightening the delicate flavors of the jasmine green tea.

Originally published on May 11, 2006