WASHINGTON (CIRCA) - For Starbucks lovers, just as autumn isn't complete without a Pumpkin Spice Latte, the holiday season just wouldn't be the same without a Gingerbread Latte, Peppermint Mocha or Eggnog Latte.
This year, there's a woodland-inspired addition to the coffeemaker's Christmastime offerings: the Juniper Latte.
The taste of the newest espresso beverage, which hit U.S. stores Nov. 27, is branded as "a light, pine-like flavor with delightful citrus undertones." Starbucks said in a statement Tuesday that the holiday treat was inspired by a drink made exclusively at its Seattle Reserve Roastery last year.
Circa decided to test out the unconventional flavor on Wednesday morning.
The first sip was wonderfully sweet -- no doubt the pine-citrus sugar peppering the drink's foamy top layer.
The second was ... bizarre but not unpleasant. Though I'd been bracing for the unfamiliar, botanical hit to my taste buds, the sensation was sharper than I'd imagined; it really did feel like I was drinking a Christmas tree.
I closed my eyes on the third sip, focusing harder on the intense flavor, and I soon warmed to the taste of the evergreen froth that lingered on the back of my tongue.
In all, I found the Juniper Latte a fun -- albeit tart and jarring -- detour from my customary vanilla flat white. I'm glad I ventured from my caffeine comfort zone to give it a try and while I'm not exactly craving another, I won't rule out re-ordering the piney treat before the end of the holiday season.
If you've an adventurous palate and are looking for a new way to get into the Christmas spirit, give the Juniper Latte a whirl. However, if you think coniferous aromas belong on branches or in body lotions and air fresheners, stick with your usual Starbucks order.
Twitter was pretty divided on the Juniper Latte's taste.
Last year, Starbucks' Christmas Tree Frappucino sparked similar conversations about which flavors belong on the holiday menu.
A grande Juniper Latte with 2-percent milk clocks in at 260 calories, including 7 grams of fat, 35 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein.
Crushed pine needles weren't listed among the ingredients.