medicine ball tea tiktok

@webbiefoot/@thorndalestarbs/TikTok

‘I know that Omicron is here’: Viral TikTok shows how Starbucks sold out of medicine ball teas

'More people are getting COVID in my area because the Starbucks near my house has been out of medicine ball teas.'

 

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Published Jan 7, 2022   Updated Jan 7, 2022, 10:27 am CST

Early in the pandemic, people discovered a darkly funny way to track COVID-19 outbreaks: When cases spiked, more Yankee Candle customers would complain online about the candles being “scentless.” The most likely explanation was that they’d lost their sense of smell due to COVID-19.

Over the past couple of weeks, several TikTokers have noticed a similar way to track the spread of Omicron. There’s a growing theory that more people buy Starbucks “medicine ball” teas during a COVID-19 outbreak, hoping to sooth their symptoms with lemon and honey.

“I know that Omicron is here and more people are getting COVID in my area because the Starbucks near my house has been out of medicine ball teas for the past three days,” said TikToker @webbiefoot, showing a screencap of the Starbucks site. All the teas are sold out.

@webbiefoot

I seen what i needed to see & imma stay inside #starbucks #ohno

♬ original sound – Webbiefoot

The “medicine ball” teas are just varieties of hot tea with lemon and honey, a classic treatment for the common cold. They’re sweet and comforting—and have no real medical benefits. The Starbucks website lists them under generic names like Citrus Defender, to avoid suggesting that they contain actual medicine.

Responding to @webbiefoot’s theory, TikTok commenters chimed in with anecdotes about their local Starbucks running out of tea ingredients. It’s hard to draw reliable conclusions about whether this is a supply chain issue or a direct sign of COVID outbreaks. But the COVID-19 theory is plausible because many people do purchase lemon/honey tea when they feel sick.

If you search for medicine ball tea on Twitter, you’ll also find numerous Starbucks baristas and customers begging people to stay home instead of buying this tea as a remedy.

One Starbucks TikToker even posted a skit about how ordering medicine ball tea is an immediate red flag. Now viewed 1.8 million times, it shows a barista hastily putting on his mask as a coughing customer orders the tea.

https://www.tiktok.com/@thorndalestarbs/video/7046474353348775173

Another viral TikTok shows a different barista reacting in horror to the number of customers buying medicine ball tea. So yes, this is definitely a thing.

TikTok is also full of tutorials on how to make your own medicine ball tea, including at least one video specifically aimed at people with COVID-19.

With more than 50,000 views in two days, the tutorial explains, “This is what you do when you have COVID and you get addicted to Starbucks medicine ball, and they run out ingredients because everyone else is addicted too.” The recipe is very simple, involving lemon tea, peach tea, lemonade, and honey. In other words, you should definitely stay home and make it for yourself.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Starbucks for comment.

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*First Published: Jan 7, 2022, 7:20 am CST