Starbucks is out again with its holiday drinks this year. Some are more creative like the Caramel Brulée and Chestnut Praline lattes, while others stick to more classic holiday flavors like the Peppermint Mocha or Eggnog latte. Most of us are familiar with these beverages since they're recurring staples of Starbucks’s holiday menu in the United States. However, on the other side of the globe in China, Starbucks offers a completely different drink selection for the holidays.

Explore Starbucks China’s top holiday drinks with me as I review and break down what goes into them.

1. Toffee Nut Latte

Ingredients: Milk, espresso, toffee nut flavored syrup, whipped cream, toffee candy, and hazelnut sprinkle

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Kexin Wang

A sip of this latte is like taking a bite of a Ferrero Rocher. The crunchy texture from the hazelnuts sprinkled on top makes the drink burst on the tip of your tongue with a strong nutty aroma. The toffee syrup gives the latte a thick and silky texture while also giving it a sweetness that’s perfectly balanced by the richness of the espresso. And to top it all off, the frothy milk makes the drink even smoother and creamier. If you’re tired of drinking caramel macchiatos, I highly recommend giving the Toffee Nut Latte a try.

2. Golden Xmas Tea Latte

Ingredients: Milk, Tahitian vanilla syrup, whipped cream, caramel sauce, black tea flavored solid drink, water

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Kexin Wang

I was impressed by my first taste of this drink. It has a soft, airy texture, and the light fragrance of black tea reminds me of tea-flavored shortbread cookies. But after several more sips, the drink got way too sweet from the two layers of syrup, and the bitterness of the black tea is too subtle to cut through all the sugar. If you’re a full-sweetness bubble tea lover, you might like this latte. But if you’re more of a bitter coffee drinker like me, I’d recommend going for one of Starbucks China’s other holiday offerings.

3. Lava Choco Dark Mocha

Ingredients: Oat milk, espresso, chocolate flavored sauce, whipped cream, chocolate brownie flavored biscuit pieces

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Kexin Wang

This chocolate bomb is the perfect drink for anyone obsessed with chocolate. The richness from the dark chocolate sauce gives you the same satisfaction as drinking a cup of hot chocolate or eating a lava cake. Then, the espresso deepens the flavor while mellowing out the sweetness.

What surprised me the most is you can taste the nuttiness of the oat milk through all the chocolate and coffee, and the lighter texture of the oat milk keeps the drink from being too heavy. My go-to snack pairing with this Lava Choco Dark Mocha is Snyder’s honey mustard and onion pretzel pieces. The mix of sweet and savory takes things to a whole new level. 

If you aren't able to visit a Starbucks in-person, you can make homemade versions of these holiday drinks by following the ingredients and amounts shown above. Though the pandemic might make the holidays feel different this year, you can still share some sweetness and warmth in small ways by sipping on holiday drinks like these with loved ones.