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Taste-Testing the Pastries at Starbucks' New Tea Bar

By Anna Hyclak
October 30, 2013

Last week, Starbucks launched an all-new concept on the Upper East Side called Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar. The new spot isn't your average 'Bucks venture - as in, there's no coffee on the menu, only tea drinks like matcha green tea lattes and craft tea fusions shaken with cold-pressed juices and sodas. There's also an upgraded food selection, including pastries that are warmed to order, gourmet flatbreads and salads and small plates like poached pear and blue cheese triangles and lemongrass-ginger chicken rice balls served with sesame dipping sauce. 

Between the sleek, minimalist space - perfectly serene and quiet for working on your laptop or catching up with friends - and the fancified menu, this new tea bar seems like Starbucks 2.0 (minus the joe, of course). We decided to taste-test some of the new offerings to see whether they lived up to the presentation.

  • Macarons

    The macarons come in three exotic-sounding flavors: lavender, blood orange and lemon-thyme. While very tasty - as pretty much anything sugary with a cream filling is - Ladurée these are not. The cookie part is a tad too cakey, the cream a bit too frosting-like and sweet, and the overall effect closer to that of a whoopie pie than a traditional macaron. (Also, the "blood orange" tasted like a Creamsicle.) We'll give them points for effort, but with so many great places to get macarons on the Upper East Side, they're going to have to up their game if they want to compete in the big leagues.

  • Dark Chocolate Brioche

    This was by far our favorite of the pastries. Served warm, it was delightfully rich, gooey and chocolatey - the perfect accompaniment for a hot cup of tea. Sure, it tasted more like a chocolate croissant than a traditional brioche pastry, but they could bill it as a cronut and we'd still think it was delicious.

  • Chicken Sausage & Spinach Strata

    Of the savory items, we were most intrigued by the breakfast dishes, like the egg-white frittata, bacon, egg and cheese flatbread and the chicken sausage and spinach strata, which we decided to sample. Baked into a bread pudding of sorts (with goat cheese as the unbilled ingredient), it's definitely different than the usual morning fare you'd find at Starbucks. Unfortunately, ours came out of the oven slightly burnt, so we weren't able to give it a full thumbs up, even though it packed a flavorful punch and seemed like it could have been a great alternative to a breakfast sandwich.

  • Raspberry Apricot Cream Scone

    What better to serve with tea than a scone, right? Of course, if you're looking for a true British tea experience with a warm, flaky scone served with butter and jam, Teavana probably isn't your place. Their raspberry apricot cream scone is the closest thing on the menu, but it's more like a jam-filled Pillsbury biscuit. We would've preferred the jam on the side and a less doughy "scone," but we liked that it was served warm - you don't find that at most casual coffee and tea spots (and that includes Starbucks).

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