There's a "pretty extreme" difference between the tea samples given out at Teavana and the tea customers end up with if they follow the store's directions, Mary Beth Quirk at the Consumerist reported.
The in-store tea is much stronger and packed with sugar, according to a former Teavana employee.
It supports a report from Gitte Laasby at the Journal Sentinel that called out Teavana's "dirty little secret."
From Laasby's report:
I went inside to order a chai I had sampled. I figured I could solve the taste mystery in the process. As I waited for my 16-ounce cup, I noticed that the barista put a large amount of tea in it. I asked how much tea he uses. His reply: "About six teaspoons."
Again, I was floored. That's three times as much as the instructions say! (Not to mention the two teaspoons of sugar, which is twice as much as the instructions say.)
"We want to make sure customers can really taste the samples," he explained.
The former Teavana employee provided an example to the Consumerist: the sample recipe for iced blueberry-pineapple tea.
It's a 32-oz. brew, with half a cup of Blueberry Bliss rooibos tea, half a cup of Pineapple Kona Pop! herbal tea, and half a cup of German Rock Sugar. Then, fill the teapot to the top with boiling water and let it steep for 15 minutes or longer.
What are the customer directions?
For the same sized brew, they say to use 2-3 teaspoons of each of those teas and only two teaspoons of sugar.
She also said that she'd tell customers how to brew the tea exactly as it appears in the store.
"Even cups of non-sample tea are generally brewed strong and sweet, unless a customer asks otherwise," she said. "It’s a little shady, but oftentimes I saw customers returning, either to clarify as the woman in the February 15th story did, or to just give up and buy a cup, so I suppose it worked well enough for the company."
Teavana defended itself in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.
"As a standard guide, we recommend two teaspoons as the ideal strength for our teas and train our stores to use this amount as well. We also list this as a guide on our packaging for our consumers and stores as they brew a cup of tea," a Teavana spokesperson said. "That said, the strength of our teas are a personal preference and can vary among individuals."
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