And it was truly a yuletide journey.
What Is It: Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino
Who Tried It: Maggie Malach, PEOPLE Associate Editor, Digital Platforms
Level of Difficulty: 8 (but that was really just logistics)
When I first read the ingredients in Starbucks’ new Christmas Tree Frappuccino — a Peppermint Mocha Creme base, matcha whipped cream, caramel sauce, candied cranberries and a slice of strawberry — I was rightfully wary. Yes, the drink looks like a Christmas tree, but exactly how festive would it be for my taste buds?
Never one to leave a sugar-filled experience to chance, I ran to the nearest Starbucks to place my order. Given the fanfare surrounding the franchise’s themed drinks (#UnicornFrappuccino) I expected the line to be out the door with eager young coffee drinkers, patiently waiting to sip the newest delicacy.
However, while the line was out the door, I appeared to be the only person in Christmas Tree mode. There was a little confusion as to what the drink actually was, and after I showed an employee the ingredient list, I was given something … similar. While my minty drink was good, it lacked the matcha whipped cream, caramel sauce, cranberries and that elusive strawberry slice (not to mention the panache of actually looking like a decorated tree.)
Not to be defeated, I went to the second-nearest Starbucks, where they proudly advertised the specialty drink. Hark! I excitedly placed my order as I sipped my first beverage, which was now serving as an appetizer to the main course: The Christmas Tree Frappuccino. The barista who made it displayed such artistry as she added layer upon layer of festivity to the drink. My coworker and I ooh-ed and ahh-ed at each turn, audibly gasping when she whipped out a single strawberry slice for a garnish.
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At first taste, the drink seemed like your standard peppermint mocha fare, but a second sip proved it’s so much more. The whipped cream quickly began to melt, blending with the drink in a way that added a slight hint of green tea. Given all of the different flavors at play (I’m looking at you, candied cranberries), I didn’t know what to expect. But everything melded together in a way that totally worked, even if all of the flavors weren’t standouts.
The Verdict: While presentation counts a lot in this game, it wasn’t enough to send me on another quest for a refill. However, it was totally worth burning about a Christmas Tree Frappuccino’s worth of calories to find the perfect one — for the Instagram.