Monday, October 07, 2013

More Beverages from Starbucks

Last week, I posted about the frappuccinos from Starbucks.  I've also reviewed other things a few other times.  But, it seems like time for an update on ... hot beverages!
Tall White Chocolate Mocha, Decaf, Soy, Whip.  $3.55.
Described as: "Espresso with white chocolate flavored sauce and steamed milk. Topped with sweetened whipped cream."

I've never really been a mocha drinker, much less a white chocolate mocha drinker, but I had a really delicious one from Sugar Cafe on a cold, blustery day, and had been craving one ever since.  So, I decided to try one at Starbucks.

It was very disappointing.  It didn't have any flavor at all.  I couldn't taste the espresso, and would have believed you if you told me it didn't have any in it.  I also didn't taste white chocolate, just some subtle sweetness.  Nor did I taste soy.  I have no idea how all the flavors cancelled each other out so dramatically, but they did.  The whipped cream on top was pretty standard.

It also was barely lukewarm.  Meh, meh, meh.  Would not get again.
Tall Tazo Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte, skim, 1/2 sweet.  $2.95.
It as a cold, rainy day, and we were driving back from Tahoe.  I wanted something warm and comforting.  We stopped for gas, and there was a Starbucks next door, so I decided that even though I haven't really liked any of the coffee or espresso beverages at Starbucks, there must be something there that could cheer me up.

I scanned the menu, and saw tea lattes.  I hadn't ever noticed them before, as I don't generally order tea when I'm out (it just seems crazy to pay several dollars for a tea bag and water!), and the tea lattes were under the general tea section.  I haven't ever even had a tea latte before anywhere, but they seemed like a reasonable idea.  I figured it was basically just a really milky tea.  I sometimes like tea with a fair amount of milk, and this seemed like a way to add more milk and not cool down my drink.  Sounded good to me.

I didn't want caffeine, so went for the rooibos.  I was a bit surprised when he mentioned that it normally came with 3 pumps of syrup.  I was expecting just a tea bag and some steamed milk, not extra sweetness added.  I'm glad he mentioned this, as I decided to get it with only 1.5 pumps (his suggestion), and I can't imagine it being sweeter.  Seriously, why is everything so ridiculously sweet at Starbucks?  I like sweets, ok, I LOVE sweets, but the default version of everything there is just way, way too sweet!

When I looked the drink up at home later, I saw the description: "an infusion of rooibos, steamed milk, syrup, vanilla and cinnamon, topped with velvety foam."  Aha, yes, syrup.

Anyway.  I liked this drink far more than I expected to.  It reminded me of the milk teas I drank in Japan - sweet, milky, and totally comforting.  It really was exactly what I was in the mood for.  The tea itself was a decent enough rooibos, and it held up to the milk well.  It was sweet, almost too sweet, and the full 3 pumps would have likely been nasty.  I'd definitely consider getting one of these again, and I'd be sure to remember to ask for perhaps just a single pump!

[ Update: On a recent ski trip, again to Tahoe, my ski bus stopped at Starbucks.  I wanted a comforting warm drink, so again went for the Rooibos Tea Latte, since I know I don't love Starbucks coffee.  I remembered thinking it was too sweet, so I asked for half sweet.  It still wound up too sweet for me, and then I re-read my last review, and saw that I wanted it less sweet the next time.  Whoops.  I really need to learn to read my own reviews :)  Next time: 1 pump.  Or maybe unsweetened, and I can just add a little if necessary from the condiment station.  Also, price went up, $3.15 now. ]
Tall Iced Decaf Skim Caramel Macchiato. $3.55.
"Espresso combined with vanilla-flavored syrup, milk and caramel sauce over ice."

I need to stop taking recommendations.  I stopped in on a hot day, and the women taking my order raved about their new hazelnut macchiato (which I did have at a later time, and actually, it was quite good).  Why didn't I have it on this visit?  Well, she then told me she was out of hazelnut syrup, but that the caramel one was good too.  I remembered drinking the hot version of this back before I drank coffee, and thought they were crazy sweet ridiculous drinks.  But she said the cold one was perfect on a hot day.  Spoiler: it wasn't.

This was an incredibly boring drink.  Basically, a glass of skim milk, slightly bitter coffee flavored, with some thick caramel stuck to the bottom of the cup.  I guess there was vanilla syrup in there too, but I didn't taste it.  The only redeeming quality is that it wasn't overly sweet like most Starbucks drinks.  The caramel was tasty, but even when I tried to mix it in, I failed.  Serious meh.
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