How to Order a Medicine Ball at Starbucks, According to a Former Starbucks Barista

Sore throat begone

medicine ball at starbucks: starbucks medicine ball surrounded by mint, lemon and honey
Starbucks/Dasha Burobina

My time as a Starbucks barista preceded the Medicine Ball’s viral takeover, but I’ve had plenty of them as a customer. I’ll crave hot tea some mornings (especially in the winter), but I simply won’t drink it without lemon juice. Because Starbucks doesn’t offer fresh lemon, I’d never ordered hot tea there (besides the Passion Tango, which is tart enough to satiate me, despite the lack of fresh citrus). That’s why I was intrigued—and once I tasted it, delighted—when I saw this gem on the menu, since it’s spiked with steamed lemonade. Wondering how to order a Starbucks Medicine Ball yourself? Read on for all the details, from ingredients to clever modifications.

How to Order a Pink Drink at Starbucks, According to a Former Starbucks Barista

What Is a Medicine Ball at Starbucks?

Like the beloved Pink Drink, the Medicine Ball was a secret menu favorite that took off on Instagram nearly eight years ago. (In case you don’t know, the Starbucks secret menu is a collection of unofficial drinks that fans have invented and shared online.) Touted as a cold cure, the bev went viral and the chain eventually added it to the menu for good. Today, the Starbucks Medicine Ball—also known as the Cold Buster—is a flu season staple.

For the record, the tea drink won’t exactly cure your sniffles, but its temperature could potentially soothe congestion and other symptoms. The honey’s consistency might tame your sore throat or stifle a stubborn cough. The lemonade contains vitamin C, which could potentially shorten the length of your cold. But TBH, don’t count on this drink to heal you. At the very least, it’s comforting and tasty, which is a win even if you aren’t sick.

What’s in a Medicine Ball at Starbucks?

  • Tea (Jade Citrus Mint tea is nonnegotiable, but most recipes cite a mixture of two Teavana varieties, Jade Citrus Mint and Peach Tranquility)
  • Hot water
  • Steamed lemonade
  • Honey

First, the barista will add hot water to a cup and place the tea bag or bags in the water. (In case you’re curious, Jade Citrus Mint is a green tea with lemon verbena, lemongrass and spearmint that contains 40mg caffeine in a 16-ounce grande, and Peach Tranquility is an herbal blend with peach, candied pineapple, chamomile, lemon verbena and rose hips.) As the tea steeps, they will add lemonade to a pitcher and steam it to heat it up. Honey is added and likely stirred into the hot water, then the lemonade is added to the tea. The ratio of water to lemonade is 50/50. Ta-da: You have a Starbucks Medicine Ball.

How to Order a Medicine Ball at Starbucks

Luckily, this fan-favorite is officially on the menu as the Honey Citrus Mint Tea. You can ask for it in person or find it with the hot teas on the mobile app to order one ahead.

What I Think About the Starbucks Medicine Ball

I’m someone who only enjoys hot tea when it’s fruity or acidic (aka with at least two fingers’ worth of fresh lemon juice), so I’m a fan of this one, namely due to the lemonade. I could do without the honey, unless I’m suffering from a scratchy throat. It’s not lost on me that it contains a significant amount of sugar between the honey and lemonade (a whopping 30 grams for a grande), but it’s better than sinking my teeth into a slice of Iced Lemon Loaf first thing in the morning, no?

Of course, there are plenty of modifications worth considering once you taste the O.G. If mint isn’t your thing, you can substitute another hot tea. (I’d recommend Royal English Breakfast if you’re seeking maximum caffeine, Emperor’s Clouds & Mist for a bit less and Peach Tranquility for decaf.) If you want to double down on the mint, add a pump of peppermint syrup to the tea (it’s available in the winter), which will sweeten the drink even more. Alternatively, you can boost the fruitiness of the Peach Tranquility blend with a pump of peach syrup. If you’re craving something cold, try an iced Medicine Ball per TikTok user @justfantaaa’s recipe, which calls for ordering a Peach Green Tea Lemonade with honey and peppermint syrup.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...