Next to hot cocoa and mulled wine, there's no beverage that's more quintessentially "holiday" than those served in Starbucks's signature red (or green?) cups. The experience may not scream warm, fuzzy holidays—long lines, misspelled Sharpie names, and disgruntled customers—but ahh, that first sip of a hot and foamy gingerbread latte: Christmas in a cup.
But with these sweet, seasonal beverages comes a lot of concern about their nutritional value: a Grande Eggnog Latte has as much fat as 2.5 glazed donuts. Drinking all that fat just seems wrong, doesn't it? Fortunately, there are a few holiday Starbucks drinks that aren't off-limits, and according to a few top nutritionists, one drink reigns supreme above all others (nutritionally speaking). Keep scrolling to find out which drink causes the least guilt!
While it's newer to the holiday drink roster, the Gingerbread Tea Latte won't tip the scale as much as the coffee company's other beverages. However, don't just order it flat-out—you'll need to rehearse that comedically long Starbucks drink order to make sure you're cutting out unnecessary calories and sugar.
Says Lauren O'Connor, RD, CCN, an 8-ounce cup of the Gingerbread Tea Latte with no whipped topping and 2% milk comes in at 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 16 grams of sugar: "It appears to be the least processed—mainly tea and whipped milk with perhaps a teaspoon or so of sugar or spice blend."
Adds Alissa Rumsey, RD, "Ask for just one or two pumps of syrup to keep the sugar content in check." As for milk, she actually doesn't recommend skim milk. "I recommend 2% or whole milk in order to add some fat to the drink, which will help with satiety." Almond milk has fewer calories, but you may feel more compelled to order another cup because it's less filling.
And while we get that it's getting much, much chillier out, ordering your Gingerbread Tea Latte iced instead of hot means fewer calories solely because there's less volume. Says Maria Bella, RD, and the owner of Top Balance Nutrition, "An iced beverage generally contains fewer calories because of the added ice, thus less of the actual drink." So if you can trick your brain into drinking less beverage out of the same size cup you'd normally order a hot beverage in, go for it.
Bella also notes that the 8-ounce cup (a "short" in Starbucks language) isn't outright advertised on the menu. (For reference, a "tall" cup is 12 ounces.) So here's your new order: "One short Gingerbread Tea Latte, two pumps of syrup, 2% milk, and no whipped cream." Big name, little calories.
What's your favorite Starbucks holiday drink? Tell us below!
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.