I’ve had this tea latte from Starbucks a few times in the past, and each cup is slightly different from the ones before it. This might have something to do with the size cup you order, since I suspect each teabag is the same size. The smaller the cup, the stronger the tea flavors since there is less water volume for the tea to diffuse through.
Today I ordered a Starbucks tall, which is their smallest size. Consequently, I was able to really taste the flavors coming through the large, fine mesh Tazo teabag that @steepedintruth mentioned in his tasting note. I’ve never seen a teabag this big before, let alone made of such a high quality mesh compared to the normal paper stuff I’m used to (then again, I haven’t been a big tea drinker at all until recently). First thing to hit was the vanilla; like everyone has mentioned, there’s definitely an artificiality to the taste of vanilla in this drink, but it’s not unpleasant to the point of ruining the drink. Reason being the apple cinnamon flavors that hit soon after.
Again, I’m sure the flavors were twice as prominent because I ordered a smaller cup, but man could I taste the apple cinnamon flavors! Not too strong that I’d swear I was sucking on a sour apple Jolly Rancher, but just strong enough for me to acknowledge that the flavors are there… more akin to eating a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal in milk. Soon the apple cinnamon takes over—in a good way—as the vanilla takes a backseat to the fruity spices, offering quite a sensational tea latte that gets better over time.