As readers of a junk food blog may agree, there is nothing quite like buying yourself a little treat, whether you’ve done anything to deserve it or not. When that treat is a beverage, I will choose a chai latte nine times out of ten. I love them so much that I have tested and ranked the chai lattes offered by (almost) every café in my city. When a craving hits, even the low-ranked ones hit the spot. However, my favorites are often an equal measure of tea, milk, sweetness, and spice. Chai spice blend preferences are about as personal as one’s coffee order, but I like a peppery bite as well as a hint of vanilla.
I both love and resent chai lattes for occupying so much of my mental space that could be dedicated to other things, like remembering the names of my colleagues’ kids or establishing a regular dusting schedule.
Again, my priorities were set when I tasted the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte, a new item on Starbucks’ winter menu. The iced beverage base consists of Starbucks’ chai concentrate, chai syrup, and oatmilk. An oatmilk froth flavored with gingerbread syrup tops the drink, along with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice. (Sadly, my order was missing the pumpkin spice. I shouldn’t take it personally. And yet….)
To add gingerbread syrup only to the froth felt like an odd choice. The flavor was noticeable (and at times trickled down into the drink’s base), but I expected it to shine more brightly. Mostly cinnamon and molasses, the gingerbread flavor tasted good, but lacked any real punch of ginger. (Gingerbread fans may wish to try the hot version of the drink, which contains both chai and gingerbread syrups in the base. Share your findings, please!)
The oatmilk in the base was delicious, contributing a thick, creamy richness and subtle nutty flavor. It was very sweet, which I’m not opposed to. The creaminess seemed to dominate, throwing off the spice ratio. As with the froth, the spice in the base seemed very cinnamon-forward. Even though Starbucks’ chai concentrate contains black pepper and ginger, the drink somehow lacked the bite I expect from chai. Generally, it was more reminiscent of pumpkin spice.
Don’t get me wrong, the drink still tasted good — creamy and sweet, with enough sugar, spice, and caffeine to nudge a few dopamine receptors out of bed. However, the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte oversells the promise of ginger; by confining the gingerbread flavor to the froth, no component fully delivers what could have been vibrant spice. This limited time offering isn’t in my top tier of seasonal beverages or chai lattes, but it will still quell a sweet treat craving.
Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Tall – 12 fl oz.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 290 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.