Help! - Can't make tea like Starbucks!

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May 3rd, '06, 22:26
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Help! - Can't make tea like Starbucks!

by teame » May 3rd, '06, 22:26

I need help from the experts. I have been on a quest to make iced tea just like I can purchase both at Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee. They use Tazo Awake tea to make their black tea, which is delicious to me.

Here is what I've tried to duplicate their tea's taste:

I have varied steep temp from 185 to 212.
I have varied steep time from 3 minutes to 7 minutes.
I have used both loose leaf Tazo Awake and tea bags.
I have tried tap water and three different bottled waters.
I have bought about 20 other tea types trying to get anything to taste like their teas, without success.


What am I doing wrong? My teas taste more earthy and malty. Their teas are "crisp" and "astringent" with a long, lingering aftertaste that I really enjoy, without any malty character.


Last edited by teame on May 3rd, '06, 22:42, edited 1 time in total.

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May 3rd, '06, 22:31
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by rabbit » May 3rd, '06, 22:31

add a tablespoon (give or take some) of baking soda (per pot of tea) to the mixture.

[edit] All else fails and you could just befriend a starbubuccaneer and then ask them how it's done :)

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May 3rd, '06, 22:41
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by Warden Andy » May 3rd, '06, 22:41

Maybe you don't use as much sugar or corn syrup as they do.

Or, it's very possible that you just got a tazo tea that was blended differently.

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May 4th, '06, 00:18
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by Chip » May 4th, '06, 00:18

...try high grown teas such as high grown Ceylon (not low grown Ceylon), Darjeeling, Sikkim, Nepal, and the like. That makes it more fruity, tippy, astringent, and crisp with higher flavor notes that I think you are looking for. It works for me.

I don't use Chinese, or Assam which could make it malty.

I agree that they also use more and/or different sweeteners. Just think about this. If a bottled tea has 35 grams of carbs which will be sweetener...that is around 10 times as much sweetener by weight than tea leaves by weight...assuming it even was made with tea leaves and not tea extract.

Also read through the iced tea posts in this section...that might help.

May 15th, '06, 21:46
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I figured it out!

by teame » May 15th, '06, 21:46

Thanks go to Rabbit, for suggesting asking more questions at the coffee houses.

I had done so earlier, but asked more at Seattle's Best Coffee about how they prepare their tea. I found that at the store I frequent, they barely cover the (large) tea bags they steep with hot water, then add cold water after the 5-minute steep. This technique defininitely changes the character of the Tazo Awake tea they prepare.

I came home and tried this method in my ingenuiTea with similar, and excellent, results. I can get a more brisk, astringent tea with some fruity notes using this method. I am so pleased that this puzzle is solved.

I have tried other teas, and find that this style of tea preparation tends to bring other teas into a similar flavor profile. Examples include Upton's River Shannon and CTC Irish Breakfast blends.

Purists may scoff, but just for a change you should try a tea prepared this way if you haven't before. In general, use 1/3 to 1/2 the normal amount of water to prepare your tea, then add the remaining water immediately after steeping.

Bottoms up, and thanks again for all the suggestions!

Austin, TX

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May 16th, '06, 01:30
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Re: I figured it out!

by rhpot1991 » May 16th, '06, 01:30

teame wrote: Purists may scoff, but just for a change you should try a tea prepared this way if you haven't before. In general, use 1/3 to 1/2 the normal amount of water to prepare your tea, then add the remaining water immediately after steeping.
Isn't that the normal way to make iced tea? Use 2x tea leaves then dilute with water (or ice) when cooled.


Jul 10th, '06, 17:02
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It isn't Tazo Awake

by auroramu330 » Jul 10th, '06, 17:02

As a former Starbucks barista whose favorite beverage was the strong black iced tea we served (this was before the procedure included added water and sweetener), I can tell you exactly where you're going wrong; starbucks doesn't use tazo awake to make iced tea.

Tazo makes a special blend specifically for iced tea. While it is uncommon to find this tea packaged for retail sale, you can ask a manager to order it for you. They may not even know it exists, but if that's the case just politely tell them that a former barista told you it does exist and ask if they will check the catalog.

Incidentally, next time you order an iced tea from starbucks, I suggest requesting NO ADDED WATER. Starbucks is getting really cheap, cutting pennies everywhere, and they started adding extra water to the iced tea a few years ago. This is done while preparing an individual cup, so you can just tell them not to add it.

The boxes of iced tea come with 6 bags; I like my tea strong, so this makes 3 large pitchers of tea for me. Order accordingly.


Ooooh, I just found an online supplier; ... cts_id=274

Aug 28th, '06, 01:26
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by connsmythe96 » Aug 28th, '06, 01:26

I too had this problem. I knew that Starbucks didn't use their hot tea bags to make iced tea (despite what another coffee shop tried to tell me when I ordered iced tea and they didn't have any), but I couldn't find any stores that sold the Tazo Iced tea. I kept asking them to show me what they use and then when they did I would say "yeah, how can I buy some of those bags". But they all said they couldn't sell them to me. I finally found one Starbucks in San Antonio that sold boxes of the iced tea bags. Unfortunately, I only have one bag left and haven't seen another store selling them since (I don't live in San Antonio).

I may have to just buy some online. That's the best iced tea I've ever had. I'm not sure I can go back to Lipton. :)

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Aug 28th, '06, 12:14
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by Carnelian » Aug 28th, '06, 12:14

I live in Minnesota, with a Starbucks inside the local Target store. This starbucks does sell the Tazo iced tea bags. However I do not drink Starbucks (Caribou! (they use loose leaf!) ) so I cannot give any more info on the iced tea

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Aug 28th, '06, 15:11
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by rhpot1991 » Aug 28th, '06, 15:11

Check and/or ( sells through so you will be seeing the same results), I swear I have seen tazo iced tea bags in Target before too.


Oct 25th, '06, 10:16
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Starbucks Ice Tea

by GeraldineMT » Oct 25th, '06, 10:16

The ice tea bags that Starbucks uses are Tazo Black Ice Tea Bags - you can order them from

The way I make it at home is I put 1 tea bag into a Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker and fill it up with water - usually I would fill the pitcher with ice and then brew but for this tea I brew it without the ice at the strongest setting. I then fill a shaker with ice and water (depends how strong you want your ice tea) and shake. I usually leave the strong tea in a pitcher on the counter because it clouds up when I put it in the fridge.

Hope this helps.

Oct 4th, '09, 17:40
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Re: Help! - Can't make tea like Starbucks!

by adorkable05 » Oct 4th, '09, 17:40

Would anyone happen to know how they sweeten it? I just see them squirt stuff out of their little pump bottles but they have them placed in such a way that you can't tell what it is.

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Oct 4th, '09, 18:24
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Re: Help! - Can't make tea like Starbucks!

by Chip » Oct 4th, '09, 18:24

Ask them :idea: :!: :arrow:

Welcome to the forum. :D

Apr 15th, '10, 16:05
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Re: Help! - Can't make tea like Starbucks!

by pucknutt » Apr 15th, '10, 16:05

To the San Antonio shopper. Some Walmart's carry the Tazo Black Iced Tea Bags, I know Boerne store does. My local Target, Stone Oak and 281, also carries it but it is almost $2.00 more than Walmart. Both are still cheaper than I can find online. You can also request your local HEB to stock it.

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