My go-to drink at Starbucks is a grande iced green tea lemonade, hold the extra sweetener. I’ve consumed hundreds of them since I discovered it about seven years ago. It’s a great option on a hot day, and the caffeine level is modest—25mg, compared to 150mg in a grande iced latte—so even if I have one in the afternoon, I can still sleep at night. And at 50 calories, it’s an easy way to treat myself.
This month, though, I had a realization. With Starbucks’ recent price hikes (which it attributes to inflation and supply chain issues), my 16-ounce drink now costs $4.13, including tax. If I got one every day, my tab would be north of $20, or the equivalent of a good lunch. I began looking for an alternative.
I was recently inspired to hack the Starbucks menu while browsing the aisles of Trader Joe’s. It has always sold jugs of lemonade: the “freshly squeezed” version costs $3.49 for 52 ounces, and there’s also an organic low-calorie version that comes in both classic and pink varieties.
Meanwhile, my Trader Joe’s has added canned matcha green tea, in an 8.2-ounce container for 99 cents.
I took home both the lemonade and green tea to see if I could emulate my favorite Starbucks drink. It took a few tries, but I came up with a formula that’s essentially two-to-one lemonade to green tea.
That’s about 8 ounces of lemonade to 4 ounces (or half a can) of green tea. By pouring them into a larger tumbler and adding ice, you’ve bumped it up to Starbucks’ grande size.
Admittedly, it doesn’t match the aesthetics of a Starbucks drink. This green tea is slightly sludgy looking, and there’s some sediment at the bottom of the can, so be sure to shake it before serving. Starbucks seems to use a lighter-colored green tea that gives its drink a crystalline appearance.
But the price is certainly right: it comes out to about $1 per drink. That means I can enjoy a week’s worth of homemade summer drinks for the price of one.
Sure, it can be more fun to have a barista make you a drink, especially if the barista is a union member, and I don’t begrudge anyone their daily trip to Starbucks. However, there’s joy in getting a bargain. And as the summer heat bears down, you can save and get refreshed, too.