Starbucks Tazo Tea – ‘Tis the season of Joy

This blog entry is a guest post written by twitterer @Amazonv (Nicole).  She produces her own blog, just for tea drinkers, and writes reviews of tea and tea experiences.  You can still find Joy tea in Starbucks, although it is probably quickly moving out the door right now.  I wanted to share Nicole’s thoughts on Joy tea this year, since it is a slightly different tea than last year, and she is far more qualified to write about tea than I!

(She started writing this in December, and I meant to post this weeks ago, but time came and went quickly, and I realized that if I didn’t post it soon, all the Joy would be gone!  My apologies to Nicole that I didn’t post this sooner.)


Now that the holiday season is upon us, it is time for JOY full leaf black, green and oolong blended tea at your local Starbucks.  I was excited to be able to purchase a tin of these tea sachets and I have been enjoying them at work.  I have been using a two minute steep time in boiling water.  From that preparation I taste the black tea most strongly and the oolong and green come through as it cools towards the end of each sip.  I have found only some Starbucks offer it prepared in the store, while others sell only the tin. describes Joy™ as follows:

“Tazo® Joy™ is a delicate yet full cup, created with some of the finest varietal teas available.  Rare Darjeelings and Formosa Oolongs are paired with light-bodied, fragrant Nuwara Eliya teas from Ceylon.  Yunnan teas from the high plateaus of Southern China and Southern India Nilgiris add texture and complexity.  It’s a very special tea to share freely with friends or selfishly hoard by yourself as an exceptional holiday treat.”

The paperfilter Tazo teas can easily be found in grocery stores, with a larger variety of flavors than seen in Starbucks.  Starbucks stores used to carry a small assortment of Tazo filterbags to serve in store, but I rarely saw the boxes sold.  It was earlier this year (2010) , around February, that the stores switched over from carrying filterbags to full-leaf sachets, both serving them and selling them.

Here is the lineup of teas available in store:

  • Awake (Black Tea)
  • Chai (Black Tea)
  • Early Grey (Black Tea)
  • China Green (Green Tea)
  • Zen (Green Tea)
  • Orange Blossom (Green Tea)
  • Calm (Herbal Tisane)
  • Passion (Herbal Tisane)
  • Refresh (Herbal Tisane)
  • Vanilla Rooibos (Herbal Tisane)

*Herbal tea is not really a tea, rather it is a tisane.

I was excited about the switch to full-leaf sachets as they contain full leaves, which tend to be of a higher quality, and provide room for the leaves to expand.  This year’s Joy was significantly better than last year’s paper filterbag version, in my opinion.

My current pet peeve is that all teas are made without care in Starbucks.  They all get the same temperature water, and the amount of time the bag sits in water (steeps) is not controlled.  Tea water temperature and steep time should vary by the type of tea (black, green, oolong, herbal).  I tend to ask for the water and the bag separate from each other so that I have better control over the temperature and time of steep, which leads to less of a chance of bitter cups of tea.

~ Blog post by Nicole.


If you are reading this and want to visit Nicole’s tea review blog, here is the link:

Amazonv Tea Taste Tracking

About one year ago, I wrote a blog post about the Tazo headquarters in Portland.  It’s still a fun quick look at the place where great tea is blended.  The link is here:

Tazo Tea in Portland – a mini tour

Let me know if you can still find Joy in your area.  I have definitely seen a few tins on the shelves still here in Seattle.  Talk about tea.  Anything tea-related is fair game in the comments.  What is your favorite tea at Starbucks?

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  • BCav

    Although I’m passionate about coffee, teas are not something a drink. It’s very nice to see a blog by a tea connoisseur and I learned some information that I had no clue about. Thanks Nicole for this guest blog, and thanks Melody for posting it!

  • AmazonV

    Hello @BCav I am glad you got the chance to learn something new today :)

    Thank you @Melody for giving me the chance to share some Tea-Starbucks addition over here on your blog :)

    As for my favorite teas, I’d save to say during the year I like the chai latte (concentrate) best in the morning, vanilla rooibos the best in the afternoon. If i just want a quick cup of tea during the day I tend to order Awake.

  • Chris Campbell

    My fav is definitely the Chai Latte with a couple extra pumps and no water. Opens up the airways…lol. During the summer I love getting an iced green tea after jogging.

  • AmazonV

    @Chris have you ever tried a flavored syrup instead of a the classic in the green iced tea? I like seeing which fruity flavors they have on hand and making fruit-green iced tea

  • Amy in Boston

    Love this…while I am a coffee drinker, I do enjoy a cup of joy and refresh tea. I have a love/hate relationship with the new satchets. When I had my first cup of joy this year, I actually really enjoyed it, but I find that when I drink refresh, the mint flavor is too overpowering.

    My favorite after christmas joy story was in 2006, I was living in florida and I saw boxes of joy tea on clearance at starbucks for 2.99 and I bought 10 boxes. Sure, my husband thought I was crazy but it was a good idea and back then, I drank more tea.

  • purple1

    Melody thanks for having a guest post and Nicole great thread. Tried the Joy tea and liked it. My favorite though is their iced green tea classic with nothing extra added and light ice so I can taste the tea. The SB I frequent the most knows how I like it and I don’t even have to tell them which is so nice. I love green tea all varieties.

  • Amy in Boston

    Purple- next time you get the iced tea, ask for no water. I order it that way when I get the passion makes it a lot stronger

  • purple1

    Amy in Boston- Oh I always get the iced green tea with light ice and no water and no shaking!!! Those last two requests make the tea! Hate adding water and the shaking.

  • Amy in Boston

    I’ve never tried it not shaken. I’ll have to try that- thanks 😉

  • AmazonV

    ooo, no shaken, never tried that, i always thought shaking would help it?
    Now i have something new to try :)

  • purple1

    Nicole it could be my particular taste in that I like strong tea, however, I find the shaking of the tea dilutes it too much even without the water and takes away the taste. Try it and let me know what you feel.

  • stsai01

    Joy tea has always been a partner favourite at my store. My SM thinks that it gives you a certain buzz and is very potent caffeine wise XD. I usually just get a tall or grande joy tea with a few pumps of vanilla.

    Regarding iced teas, did you know you can a Custom Iced Tea? Try an orange blossom iced tea! It’s really quite good. Or even an orange blossom iced tea lemonade. Although, it will take a little longer than usual to make your drink as the tea needs to be steeped.

    My ASM and I have tried iced refresh and zen together. So delicious, and a great pick me up.

  • CD

    Thank you Nicole (AmazonV)! Joy is my favorite tea at Starbucks. I also like the Tazo Chai. I usually get it brewed instead of the latte (don’t care for all of the sugar) but recently Melody has me hooked on the Chai latte with vanilla syrup (curse you Melody! 😉 ).

    I agree with you that the one-size-fits-all water temperature at Starbucks does not do justice for some of their teas. We have a company here in Chicago called Argo Tea – you should check it out if you’re ever in the area.

    I think we tweeted back and forth a couple of months ago about Tazo’s Montage tea. Did you ever get to try it?

    Has anyone else tried Tazo Montage? (it, like Joy, is a blend of Black, Green and Oolong).

    Thanks for the Tea post Melody! It reminded me that I need to stock up before it’s gone.

  • AmazonV

    Thanks for the tip @stsai01 i was aware you could custom orde riced tea from any tea, but had not thought to combine two of them! (silly me)

    I really love all the fun new tea ideas to try as the weather warms up

  • AmazonV

    @CD Argo is a chain, and we have them in NYC – when i travel to NYC i pop in – very nice chain

    I never did find any montage around here :(

    If i ever make it to Chicago i am all over visiting chicago tea garden! i adore their new zealand oolong

  • CD

    @AmazonV – I’ll have to check out the Chicago Tea Garden. That’s a new one for me.

    I like TeaGschwendner ( Most of their stores are not in the U.S. They have Chicago locations as well as new NYC locations. You should check them out.

  • A Girl With Tea

    I love Tazo tea! Yet, I’ve never tried Joy since I usually buy my Tazo at the grocery store and my local grocer doesn’t carry that blend. Plus, I am kind of a Tazo Awake freak! Anyway, thanks for the tip about Starbucks carrying the full-leaf sachets in their stores. I will definitely have to check out my local Starbucks now, especially since I would like to move away from the filterbags. Oh, and great post! Enjoyed reading :)

  • Melody

    I’ve been meaning to come back to this blog post for a while. Been super busy today. @CD – I don’t really even consider myself to be a tea drinker, but I love the Chai latte at Starbucks. Whole milk. Vanilla. Perfect.

    Awake Tea is pretty amazing. It’s good with Orange Mango instead of lemonade. Since Awake has a hint of citrus in it, an Awake-Orange Mango Tea is really refreshing.

    I can’t imagine not getting your tea shaken. ?? How else does it get mixed so well, and cold from the ice?

    @AmazonV – Thank you again for the guest blog post. This afternoon I noticed that my local downtown Starbucks still had one tin of Joy tea left. I’ve seen off and on on downtown Seattle shelves.

  • Melody

    I have wondered if anyone noticed the MAJOR grammar problem in the last paragraph. When a friend caught it & pointed it out to me, I laughed so hard that I didn’t fix it:

    “I have definitely seen a few tins on the shelves still here in Seattle.”

    The adverb “still” is intended to modify the phrase “seen a few tins” and not the “shelves”. The way that sentence is written (my bad!!) it makes it sound like Starbucks is selling out of shelves, or for some reason the shelves are coming down, though some are still up.

    Ah the things that make me laugh. I don’t think anyone else cares about this… Adverbs are so abused. I notice daily the misuse of adverbs in normal conversation (many people will substitute an adjective where an adverb would be required – common verbal mistake) and I too abuse adverbs now and then.

  • Melody

    oops one more really important thing to add to this thread: HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICOLE!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  • AmazonV

    Thanks Melody :)
    I got to be a guest blogger for my birthday, muhaha!

    @A Girl With Tea – oh yes! full leaves do taste better than CTC (crushed, torn, curled – what goes into paper filterbags) – may i recommend tazo (in starbucks store or online) and mightly leaf tea as great teabag teas

  • French Bean

    I haven’t been able to find Tazo teas over here…–.–

  • purple1

    Melody re tea being shaken. I suppose it is an individual preference, but I find when the tea is shaken you actually lose the taste of the tea and I feel it is mixed enough in the pitcher and does not settle down. Re the ice issue and it being cold that too is most likely a personal preference as I find too much ice also dilutes the taste of the tea and I like it strong. Try it not shaken and let me know what you think.

  • AmazonV

    @French Bean – you mean the tins for sale or in grocery stores?

  • MrWho

    At Starbucks, we shake our (iced) teas, not only to mix the ingredients, but to aerate them and eliminate a temperature gradient. This is why there is a little bit of foam on the top of the teas. Aerating is important because it supposedly “activates” the flavors in the tea, making it have a fresher flavor. Personally, I think unshaken teas are a tiny bit flatter than the traditional shaken counterparts – but I have plenty of customers that just want tea poured over ice, neither shaken nor stirred. :-)

    And now, for a little bit of filterbag-sachet changeover history.

    The first three sachets were launched January of 2009 in the tea latte line of the Winter promotion. (This was when we had the “Tea Time” promotion with the discount card.) These were the Awake, Earl Grey, and Vanilla Rooibos sachets for their tea latte counterparts. This marked an important change in the Earl Grey formulation because the sachet version features the traditional black tea infused with bergamot oil, plus lavender, while the classic Tazo Earl Grey filterbags don’t have lavender. Many customers were disappointed with the later change-over because they think the lavender is too overpowering, or doesn’t belong in tea called “Earl Grey”.

    We rolled the filterbags out and all the way into sachets last Winter promotion, in January 2010. This is when they removed Berry Blossom White, Wild Sweet Orange, Green Ginger, and African Red Bush from the lineup and added Orange Blossom. This was also when Vanilla Rooibos was first offered as a brewed tea, as before it was only available as a latte.

  • AmazonV

    @MrWho Thank you for all the details!
    I really need to get two teas side by side now and compare….

  • Nathan

    I must say that I really don’t care for Joy tea, and I especially don’t like Vanilla Rooibos. I like all of the other teas, but my favorite would have to be Zen (hot or iced).

    As for shaken vs. not shaken… It’s really just a personal preference. The major difference between the two is that when not shaken, the tea will be nearly room temperature.

  • purple1

    Nathan- agree that shaken tea nor not to shake tea is very much a personal preference and I always prefer not to have my tea shaken because as I have said I can taste the tea. I, however, do not feel the tea would be nearly room temp if it is not shaken. I suppose it depends on the barista and how they make it.

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