As we all know, only three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and pumpkin spice season. I wasn’t feeling particularly autumnal as I exited my local Starbucks into the 90-degree heat, but at least with its orangey-brown hue and dense pumpkin spice topping the color of fallen leaves, my Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte looked the part. This is a new offering for Starbucks’ fall menu, but I don’t foresee it becoming a mainstay…
Maybe this is supposed to be obvious from the drink’s name, but I certainly didn’t realize before looking it up, so let me warn you that the base of this beverage is just Starbucks’ regular chai tea latte. The unique “pumpkin cream” factor specifically refers to the cold foam on top; the drink itself doesn’t have anything in it that’s different than the usual. That felt a little unsatisfying to me at first, but hey, pumpkin spice mix is generally a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, and with the exception of nutmeg, all of these ingredients are already present in Starbuck’s chai tea concentrate. (Others include water, black tea, cardamom, black pepper, star anise, sugar, honey, vanilla, and citric acid, if you were wondering). So, it might not be an immediate member of the pumpkin spice nuclear family, but at the very least, Starbucks’ chai tea latte is probably a not-too-distant cousin.
In any case, the pumpkin cream cold foam and its smattering of seasoning on top was as tasty as I’ve come to expect from Starbucks. It was sweet, rich, and creamy, with an appealing melt-in-your-mouth fluffiness, and the pumpkin spice topping added some nice zest (though mine had a bit too much for my liking, with one particularly saturated mouthful calling to mind that old viral challenge where people would eat a straight spoonful of cinnamon with disastrous results).
The foam topping was substantial enough that it took a few sips for me to even get to the chai, but when I did… well, do you know that feeling when you’re sipping a drink that’s so cold that you can’t actually tell what it tastes like beneath the sensation of coolness? That was the case here; of course, I knew from the velvety texture that I was drinking something meant to be indulgent, but the only immediate way I could describe the taste would just be “cold.” That blandness didn’t ever change, leading to a general feeling that I was just drinking some nicely chilled, very mildly sweet, and quite over-expensive milk. There were occasional flashes of the complex spiciness of chai, but they were more of an aftertaste than the main event they should have been, and ultimately, I would say this drink’s creamy texture was more noticeable than its taste.
So sure, the pumpkin cream cold foam is good, but it’s not a big enough part of this drink’s experience for me to really recommend; once it’s gone, the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte effectively just becomes a plain chai tea latte, so if that doesn’t entice you, you’re better off getting your fall fix elsewhere.
Purchased Price: $7.35
Size: Grande (medium)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 460 calories, 17 grams of fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 66 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.