In the early days of the pandemic, people discovered a funny way to track the COVID-19 outbreak: As the number of cases spiked, many Yankee Candle customers would online complaint about the fact that candles “have no smell”. The most likely explanation is that they have lost their sense of smell due to COVID-19.
Over the past few weeks, some TikTokers have noticed a similar way to track the spread of Omicron. A growing number of theories suggest that more and more people are buying Starbucks “medicinal balls” tea during the COVID-19 outbreak, hoping to ease their symptoms with lemon and honey.
TikToker @webbiefoot said, “I know that Omicron is here and many people are getting COVID in my area because Starbucks near my house has run out of bubble tea for the past three days,” said TikToker @webbiefoot, showing Starbucks website summary. All teas were sold out.
The “medicinal ball” teas are just a 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 drugs.
Reacting to @webbiefoot’s theory, commenters on TikTok endorsed the anecdote about their local Starbucks running out of tea ingredients. It is difficult to draw reliable conclusions as to whether this is a supply chain problem or a direct sign of the COVID outbreak. But the COVID-19 hypothesis is plausible because many people buy lemon/honey tea when they feel sick.
A Starbucks TikToker even posted a skit about ordering a herbal tea that was an instant red flag. Now viewed 1.8 million times, it shows a barista hastily putting on his mask as a coughing customer orders tea.
Another viral TikTok show another bartender Horrible reaction to the number of customers buying medicinal bubble tea. So yes, this is definitely a thing.
TikTok is also full of tutorials on how to make your own herbal tea, including at least one video specifically aimed at people with COVID-19.
With more than 50,000 views in two days, the guide explains, “This is what you do when you have COVID and you get addicted to a Starbucks pill box and they run out of ingredients because everyone else is addicted.” The recipe is very simple, consisting of lemon tea, peach tea, lemon juice and honey. In other words, you should definitely stay home and do it yourself.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Starbucks for comment.
* First published: January 7, 2022, 7:20 a.m. CST
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer for the Daily Dot, about wacky culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi and superhero films, she has also appeared as a film and television critic on the BBC. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/covid-tiktok-starbucks-medicine-ball-tea/ Viral TikTok shows Starbucks selling out of Teas Ball advertising drugs