China's tea tradition is unparalleled, but that isn't stopping American coffee giant Starbucks from attempting to work its way in. The chic morning joe franchise recently unveiled its Teavana brand in China, which features two cold shaken varieties designed with the Chinese patron in mind: iced shaken peach green oolong tea and iced shaken honey ruby grapefruit black tea.

Belinda Wong, the company's China president, recently told China Daily: "As we continue to deepen the reach of the Starbucks brand in China, our customers are increasingly asking us for new and different ways to experience tea. Just as we've done for coffee, this (Teavana) is tea reimagined at Starbucks."

But how do these teas measure up, really? During a recent visit to a Starbucks outlet near Hujialou, we purchased cups of both the new peach green and grapefruit black varieties (each priced at RMB 34 for a tall, RMB 37 for a grande, and RMB 40 for a venti).

Not to be too presumptuous, but we're quite certain that the peach green will leave Chinese patrons unsatisfied. Despite the chunks of fruit, this beverage had only a hint of sweetness, making it more reminiscent of watered-down juice than anything else. The grapefruit black, however, was much better, thanks to its sharp bitterness and hint of honey aftertaste.

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However, if we had to predict the future and read the tea leaves (pardon the pun), we'd be fairly certain that neither of these options are unique or memorable enough to significantly shake up China's F&B scene. Indeed, after sipping on these mediocre teas, we can't help but advise Wong and her Starbucks brethren to just stick to the beans.

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Photo: Kyle Mullin, DFIC


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