Tea-d Off

What I looked like before the fall...

What I looked like before the fall…

I’ve tried to adapt. Change is good. It keeps things fresh, they say. Minty fresh, in fact.

A couple of months ago I was forced to accept that my favorite hot beverage at Starbucks, Tazo Zen tea, a refreshing blend (or Un mélange harmonieux as it says on the box) of green tea, lemon verbena, spearmint and lemongrass, was being “phased out”. Everyone’s chosen corporate coffee caterer had acquired a new tea provider, the utopian-sounding Teavana. It would be selling its teas now. Oprah was wheeled in to lend her name to some chai concoction. Well, if the Big O juggernaut is involved…I grumbled moodily to myself, and stocked up on boxes of Tazo from Whole Foods.

Thus came the day when my medicinally-hued green box was no longer behind the counter. “Don’t you have even one sachet left, fallen behind the boxes maybe?” The barista shook her head. I was being cut off, encouraged to choose instead from a patchwork wall of lavender, coral and blue boxes. Unlikely shades for tea, I thought. Flashy, like the dance floor on Saturday Night Fever. I asked for the closest thing to Tazo Zen. “Oh that’ll be our Jade Citrus Mint. You’ll love it. It’s delicious.”2-1-IMAG4350-new-teavana-tea-sachets-150x150

I didn’t love it. Overwhelming taste of mint.

The next time I asked for a regular no-frills green tea. “No herbal or fruit-flavored, just regular green.” What I sipped was again Jade Citrus Mint. I took it back to the counter. “Oh, that’s not what you wanted? We have our Emperor’s Clouds and Mist.”


“That’s our regular green. Would you like to try it?”

That tasted fine. Simple green. Next time, I leaned in close and asked for a Grande Emperor’s Clouds and Mists. I didn’t want to have to repeat the embarrassing nomenclature.

“Excuse me?” said the barista. His colleague at the till pulled a face and both of them looked at each other like I was asking for a gram of street value crack. “Your green tea,” I prompted.

What did I get? Jade Citrus Whatever.

Over the course of my next few visits, we reached an understanding. I even got to a point where I abbreviated my order to “Grande Emperor’s, please.” And the barista turned and made straight for the pale blue box (but the tea is green–the merchandising neurons in my brain lit up in objection.)

Still. In a colorless world, we were speaking the same language. The barista’s recognition was almost like the proprietor of a public house nodding in greeting and saying “Your usual, Madam?”

Then several weeks later, my barista didn’t turn immediately. He said they were out of Emperors Clouds and Mist. “We have Jade Citrus Mint,” he offered. I settled reluctantly on an Earl Grey. Each subsequent visit there was nothing for me but Earl Grey.

Then they ran out of Earl Grey.

“But we have Jade Citrus Mint.”

Quel mélange disharmonieux.


Miss you, my faithful friend


My first novel Silk for the Feed Dogs, written during a decadent era of blissful overconsumption of Tazo Zen tea, is available here. If you are in Australia, it is on a special Kindle promotion for the rest of the week here.




  1. Looks like they don’t sell much jade citrus mint because it’s always in stock! Just hand me a cup of hot water and an old fashion Lipton tea bag! No frills! ~Elle

  2. OH. MY. GOD.

    You, you, you! Jackie, you totally get it!! I feel so validated by your beautiful reluctant post!

    Hugs! Thank you for writing so elegantly about just what has been happening in my world as I TOO am saddened and crushed by the not-so-gentle phase out of my favorite tea: Tazo Zen.

    In fact, do you know what happened to me? I was saying to the barista, “You know the tea you have with the beautiful mint and lemongrass – that’s what I want.” And she looked at me like I was speaking in a foreign language with my three heads bobbing and said. “I’m not sure what you mean, we do not have anything like that.”


    But I do have a ray of hope, my love! I have since been introduced to the wonders of Premium Steap and their insanely fabulous Holy Detox Tea. Have you heard of them? They are here: http://www.premiumsteap.com/p-104-holy-detox.aspx

    Tea is a lifestyle.

    And P.S. I love you. 😉

    Stay strong and know I understand 100% my sweet friend! XO

    • Oh, Allison, but of course you’d understand! I mean the tea is named after you…uh…Zen!

      So consoled that you feel my plight. I’m beyond aggravated by Starbucks and now that you have offered me a lifeline (no I had not heard of them), they might just be losing my little old business.

      Kindred souls, love. The healing heat of Zen, the burst of flavor, never overpowering, the feeling that you’ve just had a treat that’s not bad for you–in fact I’ve checked the ingredients many times to make sure there is not something odiously calorific or artery-clogging in something so delish!

      And we’ll always have Whole Foods for bulk buying. But off to examine your new offering of wisdom. What a bonanza day!
      Stay warm, Lovely

  3. Oooh that sounds awful. Well you know I love a cupan tae, but it’s the coffee that’s been bothering me recently. I’ve quit drinking coffee entirely and now sleep like a big dead thing. Still devouring lots of tea though, and Lyons is my firm favourite. We don’t have a star bucks anywhere near us (or buttfucks as Tony Soprano called it) but I love a chamomile tea called night time by Heath and Heather. I wonder if you can find any nice teas locally? I used to live mint and was sure I’d love the mint tea I was server in Marrakesh, however it is horridly sweet and made with fresh mint leaves. Nice to see you back Jackie 😉

    • Yes, our love of tea unites us, Olivia. I’ve never succumbed to this coffee beverage the other half speaks of. Smells great but tastes like tar! It’s great that you don’t have an Sbux nearby as small tea shops are in theory the way to go. But when I work in Midtown Manhattan, between all the delis and tourist spots, somehow Sbux is where I’ve landed squarely. And I’ve grown fond of my Tazo Zen. And you know as a writer the push/pull between where to go that the music isn’t too loud, the tea is good, the snacks are chocolatey, the heating is good but not sleep-inducig…the variables are endless. Now I’ve got Sbux switching the variables!
      Have a lovely Sunday. Hope it’s not as baltic where you are XO

      • We want to starbucks a lot when we lived in England, favouring it because of the sofas – great for a crashing out on a Sunday afternoon :)… We’re away in a shirt hotel break in Carlow. Not very glamorous, but lots of stuff for kids – bowling, swimming etc and when they’re happy we’re happy. Weather here is wet and dirty, so not a bad time to be stuck in a hotel 😉

  4. Ha I feel your pain, as I recently decided, (due to a challenge by my daughter) to reduce my tea intake. I can tell you I am cracking up, and am not sure I will continue. Hope you find an alternative asap.

  5. Anita

    Your pain is shared in the cold, white covered hell of Ohio!! But to my advantage, Ethan, who is working at Starbucks, was able to bring home the remainder stck of Zen tea!! my prized possession!!! I

  6. You have given me another reason never to patronize Starbucks again. On the few occasions when I was stuck with them, and because their coffee sucks, I would order the Zen. If it’s gone, my little business has gone too.

    • I should be following shortly. Sbux is close to where I work in the god-awful midtown of Manhattan. It was the lesser of multiple evils and I’d grown accustomed. Now I’ll be cast adrift in a sea of dirty delis and jasmine-tea (yuck) selling establishments…or Maccy D’s…

  7. ‘Tis a brave multinational corporate giant that comes between the Irish and their tea. You know you can buy Barry’s Tea at their online store Jackie? 😀

  8. I did not, Mike. But I’ll keep that in my back pocket for later in the day. It’s the lunchtime or afterwork hot beverage that I seek however in grimy old midtown Manhattan where the deluge of dirty delis and junk food chains is at its densest. There’s a derth of Zen, literally.

  9. As a simple coffee drinker and sometimes tea enjoyer…I am a neophyte in this arena.
    But, I have experienced this phenomenon with make-up. A favorite lotion, lipstick,or blush is discontinued and I scrounge the internet for pieces to stock up on. Then…those pieces are gone~ and I have to search for replacements…my medicine cabinet has too many cosmetics that didn’t make the cut. I don’t want to throw the almost “new” pieces away, but I won’t use them. Sigh…

    • Ah, make-up…I used to buy into new colors and brands and when they didn’t last I found myself in a similar situation, bathroom drawers filled with leftovers. Now I stick to the same brand, unwavering. Mascara sometimes tempts me but I stay true because I know there’s a reason I’ve stuck with the same one. Expensive lesson learnt finally! Then I saw a piece on TV once about how many little bacteria and beasties live in our outdated make up stash. Throw that lippy out, D! xo

  10. I used to ask for Green Tea in Starbucks and receive horrible, horrible Peppermint. It took me a while to realise they didn’t know the difference and assumed I meant the tea from a green packet. Asking for White Tea in cafes often gets me Builder’s Tea ‘with milk’. Which is not okay, on so many levels. Jx

  11. The cafe that had my favourite mix of tea shut down..the only way I can get close is by double bagging an earl grey with a Builders..a surprisingly satisfying combination!! xxx

  12. 🙂 I guess that’s why I do not go to Starbucks! Totally over priced!

    By the way, I added the English translation to my ball gown post for you http://wp.me/p2DJxD-292 I hope it helps 😉 xo

  13. This was a fun read! Though I feel sorry for you and the repeated times that you ended up sipping Jade Citrus Mint. If you have the chance, try Mariage Frères – I’m sure their tea will be much better than Starbucks (and its diminishing selection) has to offer.

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