If your search for the ultimate refreshment on a hot day led you here, I got you. The Starbucks very berry hibiscus refresher is the drink you need, together with my secret recipe on how you can make your own at home.
My friends and I have a bi-monthly tradition where we meet at a restaurant, on a Friday afternoon, for a cheat meal and drinks. Those Friday afternoons are precious and nothing can stand in our way. It’s one of our most cherished girl times. For a while, we had been looking for a go-to exotic drink that can be enjoyed slowly during the fun chats. Something pretty and yummy that we can sip casually as we enjoy our food and stories. As we hopped from one eatery to another, none of the drinks was making the cut. Some were flat out boring and others a little too strong.
Then one day, out of the blue, at the 5th Downtown Seattle, we ordered the very berry hibiscus refresher. The deep ruby red hue drink instantly warmed our hearts and somehow, the drink grew on us as we sipped. It gradually became the perfect addition to our girl time. When Starbucks discontinued the drink last year, we were disappointed. I therefore sought to learn how I can make a version of the drink for my girls so we can maintain the tradition. I will be sharing my secret recipe with you today as you read on.
Brief History of the Drink
I did some digging on the idea behind this floral and fruity combo that attracted a huge fanbase upon its release and found some interesting details about the drink.
According to the company’s website, the Starbucks very berry hibiscus refresher was launched in July 2012 alongside the Cool Lime as the original Starbucks refreshers. The duo was created to deliver a natural energy boost and quench thirst with delicious refreshment.
The handcrafted fruity beverages were instantly the most preferred summer drinks of the season due to their tropical aesthetic and light texture. They could easily pair well with most food items compared to Frappuccinos which tend to be filling on their own.
The company also introduced the packaged Very Berry Hibiscus VIA Refreshers for at home instant use.
Is very berry hibiscus refresher still available at Starbucks?
No, the refresher is no longer available on the menu. In May 2021, Starbucks announced via Twitter that very berry hibiscus refresher would be temporarily discontinued and the beverage is yet to return on the menu. You can get the VIA refresher at Starbuck stores to make your own drink at home. It’s what I now use.
Very berry hibiscus refresher (Ingredients, Taste, Variations, Sizes, Caffeine, Calories)
- What’s in a very berry hibiscus refresher – (Ingredients)
The ingredients that make this tropical drink include natural fruit juice, water, freeze dried blackberries, ice, and green coffee extract for a caffeine boost.
The berry refresher base that Starbucks would use consisted of white grape juice concentrate, sugar, water, citric acid, ascorbic acid, natural flavors, and Rebaudioside-A sweetening.
- very berry hibiscus refresher: Sizes, nutrition, Caffeine & Calories
What sizes are available?
On the menu, the very berry hibiscus was available in the Starbucks standard sizes including the Tall (12 ounces) Grande (16 ounces), Venti (24 ounces) and Trenta (30 ounces).
While it lasted, the drink was loved by many due to its lightness and delicious flavors. We hope Starbucks shall avail the refresher again in the near future. In the meantime, we shall be making our own version using my recipe which I’ll be sharing towards the end of this article.
The very berry hibiscus refresher is a low calorie drink with only 70 calories per Grande (16 ounces) but it’s not considered a healthy drink by nutritionists.
Hibiscus is packed with antioxidants which help to regulate blood pressure and protect the body from developing bad cholesterol. The bright flower extract also helps boost the health of the liver and fight disease causing bacteria.
The blackberries on the other hand are tiny fruits but very rich in Vitamins & minerals that boost brain and bone health. They are also a great source of insoluble fiber which aids the digestion process.
Noteworthy, the natural fruit juice used to make the refresher is extracted from white grapes which are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essentials for the overall immune system.
Here is the summary of the nutritional facts per Grande (16 oz serving) of the beverage:
|Calorie count (out of 2,000 calories used for standard nutritional advice)||70|
|Total Fat (0g)||0%
|Total Carbohydrates (17g)
Dietary Fiber (1g)
The amount of caffeine in a Grande of a very berry hibiscus refresher is 45mg, mainly to boost your energy. It’s the perfect pick-me-up dose you need in a fruity drink.
So, what does very berry hibiscus refresher taste like?
The drink tastes light and refreshing with a distant tarty aftertaste. You can pick the subtle hints of hibiscus fragrance but it’s overpowered by the fruity flavor from the berries. The crisp natural sweetness of the organic white grape juice is quite smooth on the tongue. The berries are also loaded with their own juice and it’s altogether a delightful combination.
That said, some people have found the very berry hibiscus refresher to be an acquired taste largely due to the caffeine and hibiscus pairing.
Ways to Customize very berry hibiscus refresher – very berry hibiscus refresher Variations
We all love a drink whose base can combine with varied ingredients without losing its natural taste. That’s very berry hibiscus refresher for you.
Just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into the drink will switch up the drink into the very berry zesty refresher. You can even use bottled lemonade in place of the white grape juice for that solid sour flavor.
Another interesting way to customize this tropical beverage is by using different berries. Instead of blackberries, go with raspberries or blueberries. One thing for sure, you’ll still have a very berry hibiscus refresher. The name remains the same, only the flavor changes.
Speaking of berries, you don’t have to use the freeze-dried ones when you can get crisp fresh berries from the market. When you add the muddled fresh fruits in this delightful drink, it is insanely delicious.
You can also alter the caffeine flavor by using green tea versus the green coffee extract. If caffeine is not your jam, you can also keep your drink coffee and tea free. The beverage will still quench your thirst and keep you refreshed as it should.
To sweeten or not to sweeten? That’s another decision you can make for your drink. You can either maintain its natural fruity flavor, or add granulated sugar. The syrups are also a great choice for adding some sweetness to the drink.
How to prepare very berry hibiscus refresher at home – very berry hibiscus refresher copycat recipe
- A jar
- A glass
- A spoon
- 1 packet of the Starbucks VIA refresher very berry hibiscus
- 1 cup of muddled berries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup of water
- White Grape Juice
- Lime wedges
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pour the water and the grape juice in the jar then add the Starbucks VIA refresher and the sugar. Stir the mixture well to combine.
- Add the berries into the mixture and shake well to infuse the berries with the refresher.
- Put the ice in the serving glass and pour the refresher over the ice.
- Throw in the lime wedges to garnish.
- Let the drink sit for about 1 minute to allow the ingredients to settle in then enjoy.
- I use the Starbucks VIA Instant which is already caffeinated but if you make all the ingredients at home, you can boil dried hibiscus flowers together with green tea or green coffee powder to make your refresher.
- Caffeine can also be avoided by using a hibiscus syrup or the hibiscus herbal tea instead of the VIA Instant. You’ll just combine it with the grape juice and the rest of the ingredients.
- You can also replace the actual sugar with homemade simple syrup. Just boil sugar and water until the sugar is fully dissolved then cool it off and you’ll have a syrup.
- I use fresh berries which are crisper. They are also juicier with a little muddling.
- The lime garnish is optional since the berries are already a garnish by themselves. You can therefore omit the lime or use other types of garnishes like peppermint. I personally like the lime flavor.
How do you order a very berry hibiscus refresher?
Ordering the drink is quite straightforward. You just give the barista the name of the refresher and indicate the size that you want. If you are ordering on the website, you’ll also be required to add details of the store you’re ordering from, based on your location.
Why did Starbucks suspend the very berry hibiscus refresher?
According to the tweet by the company, the very berry hibiscus refresher was stopped so that the business could focus on other menu items that had more customers. It was probably a huge cost to the business or maybe the ingredients were inaccessible. That is just my thinking.
Is Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus healthy?
Not quite. Although the refresher is low calorie and the real berries have some health benefits, nutritionists say that the drink is not healthy because of the sugar content. You can make it healthy with less sugar or an alternative sweetener.
Is the very berry hibiscus refresher good?
Yes, it’s pleasantly flavorful, cold and refreshing which are key factors in a refresher.
Is the very berry hibiscus refresher vegan?
Yes, its ingredients are plant-based so it’s a great drink for vegetarians.
Is the very berry hibiscus refresher sweet?
Yes, the very berry refresher has a natural sweetness from the organic grape juice and the berries. It can also be sweetened further with added sugar or syrup.
Is the very berry hibiscus refresher coming back?
It’s not clear. Starbucks stated that they were pulling the drink away temporarily but it’s been a year since. We can only keep on hoping it’s returned someday.
Is the very berry hibiscus refresher gluten free?
Yes, the beverage does not utilize any dairy products.
Is sugar added in very berry hibiscus refresher?
Yes, the refresher is sweetened with added sugar.