Review: Oprah Chai Tea Latte (Starbucks)

May 04

Frappuccino season is back, but the return of the mocha crumble frap isn’t what’s dominating the ad space and sales floor right now — it’s the Oprah Chai.

Born of a partnership between Starbucks’s recently-acquired Teavana line and Oprah Winfrey’s charity work, the Oprah Chai blend is available as a loose-leaf tea or a tea latte made at your local Starbucks. This review focuses on the latte version of the drink — I haven’t tried the loose leaf tea itself yet. (Edit: Bought some, tried it, here’s the review)

This is the first Starbucks drink I know of with a person’s name attached to it. It’s literally referred to as the “Oprah Chai” on the menu boards, and that’s how you order it. Like the regular Starbucks chai, it’s a sweetened tea-based drink with your choice of milk. It can be made hot or iced, which in the warm summer months is a blessing.

A tall Oprah Chai.

A tall Oprah Chai.

The regular Starbucks chai is quite sweet, and the Oprah chai follows that trend. Where it departs from your garden-variety Sbux chai is in the blend of flavors. The individual spices are much more noticeable, particularly the cardamom and cloves. You can also clearly taste the rooibos in the blend, giving it a taste that kind of lingers on your tongue. The overall taste is harmonious, with no one flavor overpowering the others. The advertising copy will tell you it was personally developed by Ms. Winfrey and Teavana’s “lead Teaologists”, and while I can’t tell you how exactly that works I do feel like a lot of thought went into balancing the spices, rooibos and tea against each other.

Overall, while this is not the best chai I’ve had, it’s head and shoulders above the original Starbucks version. If you normally order a chai at Starbucks, give this one a shot and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you’re pickier about your chai, this one may or may not fit the bill.

If you’re interested in more information about the tea and its connections with Oprah Winfrey’s youth education charities, here’s the details.

Bullet-pointed summary:

  • What: Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Latte
  • Where: Starbucks and Teavana stores
  • Options: hot or iced, your choice of milk
  • Verdict: An improvement over Starbucks’s original chai, with a well-balanced blend of flavors

6 comments

  1. Katie /

    Can I get it in a frappe?

    • Blinkie /

      To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s worth asking the barista — I’ll check next time I’m there and update the post.

      Edit: just asked a barista at a local Starbucks — yes, this can be ordered as a frappuccino!

  2. Deborah Cabanting /

    This is a rather expensive tea for something that has a lot of calories. Not good for people watching their weight and also for people with diabeties. High in fat calories and sugar. Try Itoen green tea w/140% vitamin C, no sugar and no calories. Also it is a natural source of antioxidents. Very refreshing on a hot summer day:)

    • Blinkie /

      Yes, if you’re watching your calorie or sugar intake this is not a particularly good drink to get. It can be ordered with nonfat milk, but the flavoring itself has a fair amount of sweetener in it.

      For a nearly-zero-calorie drink, regular tea (or regular coffee) is generally the way to go. You can get sugar-free flavoring syrups for them too. For a sweeter flavor at the expense of some (but not too many) calories, the Starbucks Refreshers are also pretty good.

  3. Brenda Rue /

    Very disappointed with the packaging. Lots of waste to get maybe a third of a cup of Chai.

  4. Paula G. /

    The straight tea is naturally sweet with no added sugar, so not high in calories and delicious without milk. Starbucks regular chai has added syrups; Oprah chai does not if you order it plan with nothing added.