Starbucks, a multinational chain of coffeehouses, also referred to as “starbies,” has become a major part of American, and specifically Californian, culture. This trendy company supplies thousands of people with delectable beverages each day, and it is some people’s main source of tea. However, it is important to note that while Starbucks may triumph over the drink-making world, Dunkin’ Donuts follows in a close second to their success. In this blog, we will be analyzing how two popular coffeehouses, Starbucks and Dunkin, have contributed to the tea culture in California, and we will learn about two specific drinks that have conquered the tea trend in the Golden State: Bubble “Boba” Tea and Matcha.
With over 137 locations in Los Angeles alone, one might think that Starbucks is soon going to take over the coffee and tea industry, and in a way, it already has. They serve a wide variety of tea, including, but not limited to, Earl Grey, Chai, London Fog, Royal English, and a variety of other, more fruity, flavors. The company continues to grow as a result of the ongoing publicity it gets from social media influencers. For instance, Starbucks’ Pink Drink has been given the nickname “Pinkity Drinkity,” thanks to the online beauty guru, James Charles. Additionally, one of the most popular beverages would be the tea-inspired Matcha Latte. In comparison to Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks has a much larger variety of choices when it comes to tea; however, people are still drawn to Dunkin’ for their larger sizes at lower prices.
Although its name suggests the company is solely for donuts, Dunkin’ Donuts actually is more popular for its beverages. The major difference between Dunkin’ and Starbucks is their limited menu in comparison to its rival. The company only offers plain iced and hot black tea, iced and hot matcha lattes, hibiscus tea, and chamomile tea. Dunkin’ Donuts has also had assistance from influencers in exposing their brand to the public as Charli D’amelio, a Tiktok star, had her own drink there, called “The Charli.” While there are less choices, Dunkin’ is more bang for your buck and some even consider it to taste better. Additionally, both Starbucks and Dunkin’ have furthered their profits by selling individual packets of their products, commonly in the form of Keurig cups.
The popularity of these companies have led to the overlooking of the downsides to their beverages. In focusing on the matcha latte, in comparison to the classic tea, the latte contains an immense amount of sugar. This could be considered false advertising as a customer might believe they are contributing to their wellness when they are actually deteriorating it. Originating in the Tang dynasty in China during the 7th to 10th centuries, matcha used to be considered a symbol of high status. It is grown in the shade over the course of three weeks making its benefits greater than that of normally grown green tea. These advantages of matcha are diminished by companies like Starbucks and Dunkin as the average matcha latte from these shops contains 30 grams of sugar; whereas, with true matcha powder, there should be no sugar. Also, these sugary beverages contain about 200 calories, or more, while plain matcha powder only contains about 3 calories. So, be careful about assuming that a drink is healthy just because of how it is advertised. Extra research should be done on the specific ingredients and creation process of these beverages.
Aside from matcha, another type of tea that has taken on immense popularity in the United States, and particularly California, is bubble tea, popularly known as “boba.” This trend started in the 80s when shaved ice and tapioca balls were common desserts, and a food stall owner decided to combine the two, along with milk tea. The tapioca balls go on the bottom, then shaved ice, and then it is topped off with a nice layer of milk tea. Thus, bubble tea was created. Boba is not available at Starbucks and Dunkin; however, it is widely available at other shops in the Los Angeles area that can be found with a quick Google search. Although loved by many, the wide drinking of boba tea has led to the discovery of some adverse health effects. Other than the fact that this drink is very high in carbs, and contains a high amount of sugar, the tapioca balls are sometimes hard to digest and can lead to abdominal blockage.
These facts leave us with the question, are tea and drink trends in California that are considered to be healthy actually beneficial? If one drinks these beverages in moderation, matcha lattes and bubble tea will not cause significant harm to the body. There is always a healthier alternative to these beverages; however, it is good to occasionally treat yourself.