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15 Menu Items From Starbucks South Korea We Wish We Had In The US

South Korean Starbucks drinks
South Korean Starbucks drinks - Static Media / Getty

If you are a Starbucks regular and enjoy traveling, you've no doubt noticed that the Starbucks locations from different parts of the U.S. can have an entirely different feel to them, but very rarely do you come across one location or another that has a seemingly different menu from your home Starbucks. In South Korea, this concept is more than a possibility — it's the norm. Entire regions feature exclusive drink options you can't find anywhere else in the country. Furthermore, the South Korean Starbucks menu celebrates the country's beauty, focusing on its natural and architectural marvels.

Interestingly, the menu here includes many more caffeine-free options compared to what we're accustomed to stateside. While most of the caffeinated beverages are pretty similar to our daily picks, there are a few uniquely special options mixed in. And let's not overlook the adorable merchandise; the array of coffee ware, including thermoses and mugs exclusive to South Korean locations, adds another layer of allure to these Starbucks locations. After exploring Starbucks South Korea's offerings, we're eager to book a trip for one expensive coffee run.

Read more: 26 Coffee Hacks You Need To Know For A Better Cup

White Taro Latte

White taro latte
White taro latte - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

Having personally sampled a taro-like drink crafted from Starbucks' secret menu, we can't help but feel a tinge of envy towards Starbucks in South Korea for featuring a white taro latte (aka white taro milk). Taro, a root vegetable with a texture something like sweet potato, usually lends itself to a light purple or even lavender hue. However, this particular beverage breaks the mold by presenting a creamy white appearance, accompanied by a flavor that might remind you of savory black bean milk. It's a heartier option, almost verging on a meal replacement, should you want it.

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This white taro latte intrigues with its divergence from the expected, offering a flavor profile that is as distinctive as it is satisfying. The transformation of taro into a beverage that defies its natural color, yet retains richness and depth, speaks to the innovative culinary spirit that Starbucks in South Korea embraces.

Iced Grapefruit Honey Black Tea

Iced grapefruit honey black tea
Iced grapefruit honey black tea - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

While the United States' Starbucks offers a variety of shaken teas, it tends to stick to the basics regarding flavor. Typically, we can find a selection including shaken green tea, black tea, and herbal tea, but the flavors rarely venture into the realm of particularly intriguing or experimental.

However, South Korea's Starbucks takes this concept to a new level with its iced grapefruit honey black tea. This concoction starts with a robust black tea base and then infuses it with the zesty tang of grapefruit and the natural sweetness of honey. This beverage is served in a generous trenta, a 30-ounce cup, like the large iced teas many enjoy in the U.S. The blend of the ultra-tart grapefruit and the soothing, saccharine honey creates a flavor balance so enticing that we seriously wish it would make its way stateside so we had the chance to savor this iced tea.

Jeju Bijarim Forest Cold Brew

Jeju Bijarim Forest cold brew
Jeju Bijarim Forest cold brew - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

The Jeju Bijarim Forest cold brew is designed to encapsulate the vibrant essence of the Bijarim Forest in Jeju. Esteemed as the world's largest single-species forest, it showcases ancient Torreya trees that are centuries old.

This drink features a vibrant brown base with a lush green layer. Here, the rich brown hue of the cold brew represents the fertile soil and pathways of the forest, while the bright green matcha symbolizes the canopy. The imagery within the forest itself — the deep brown earth contrasted against the verdant tree tops — is mirrored in this beverage. Additionally, the layer of white milk between the two not only adds a visual break but also evokes the way sunlight filters through the trees, adding a touch of brightness and serenity. Marketed as a drink to be enjoyed slowly, it offers a moment of relaxation reminiscent of a peaceful walk through the forest. Exclusive to the Jeju region, this cold brew is a unique tribute to its natural beauty.

Yeosu Shining Hazelnut Cold Brew

Yeosu shining hazelnut cold brew
Yeosu shining hazelnut cold brew - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

We can only hope for a series of drinks in the United States designed and named after specific locales, offering an exclusive experience with each visit. Inspired by how these beverages in South Korea embody the specific ambiance and essence of a given place, it's conceivable that Starbucks in the U.S. could craft something equally enchanting. Take, for instance, the Yeosu shining hazelnut cold brew. This drink is artfully designed to mimic the sparkling wisps and curls characteristic of Korea's Yeosu Sea. It even features blue sprinkles on top to capture the sea's essence more colorfully. Exclusive to the areas surrounding Yeosu, this beverage stands as a testament to locality and exclusivity.

The Yeosu shining hazelnut cold brew not only offers a nod to the natural beauty of the Yeosu seafront but also introduces a flavor profile that is as inviting as it is distinctive. The initiative to create such place-specific drinks underscores a commitment to celebrating local culture and landscapes, ensuring each sip provides a taste experience and a journey to its place of inspiration.

Lavender Café Breve

Lavender café breve
Lavender café breve - 공부조아 권쌤/Facebook

It's incredibly difficult not to fall in love with a breve drink. They are rich and flavorful, exuding an aura of something a tad more special than your average coffee. This is because breves are made with either steamed or iced half-and-half instead of milk, which is precisely what gives a café breve its name.

This particular beverage is infused with lavender syrup, making it a unique offering available at South Korea's Starbucks Reserve locations, where it is prepared with the signature Reserve espresso. Although promotional imagery might depict the drink with a strikingly bright purple base, the actual appearance of the beverage tends toward a more subdued pale or even grayish hue. Nonetheless, we love a lavender-infused drink, and posting Instagram photos that may not be as striking is a price we're willing to pay for such a distinctive and aromatic experience. Thankfully, we may not need to book a long flight to sample lavender drinks as leaked menus suggest that Starbucks locations in the U.S. may have lavender drinks come spring 2024.

Sparkling Citrus Espresso

Sparkling citrus espresso
Sparkling citrus espresso - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

The world of espresso drinks is vast and varied, with innovations pushing the boundaries of what we typically expect from our coffee. Fruity espresso drinks may not be the first thing that springs to mind, yet at Reserve locations in South Korea, the sparkling citrus espresso breaks the mold. This iced beverage marries espresso with lemon and ginger ale, creating a dual-toned drink that offers a refreshing burst of citrus coupled with the rich depth of espresso. The result is akin to a coffee-based soda, an intriguing and somewhat unconventional concept.

While it may not be the quintessential morning coffee choice for everyone, its original blend of flavors makes it an ideal, light, and bright afternoon pick-me-up. Considering how beloved fruity flavors in the form of Starbucks Refreshers are, something along these lines available stateside would surely be a welcome addition, especially given the popularity of sparkling drinks.

Jeju Mugwort Rice Cake Cream Frappuccino

Jeju mugwort rice cake cream Frappuccino
Jeju mugwort rice cake cream Frappuccino - 이한세/Facebook

In Jeju, Starbucks offers an array of drinks that celebrate the unique aspects of the region. Among these is the vibrant green Jeju mugwort rice cake cream Frappuccino, which features little black sesame rice cakes interspersed throughout the drink, providing a distinctive sensory experience with every sip. This is a cream-based Frappuccino without caffeine, making it a delightful option for younger Starbucks customers as well. Drawing inspiration from the traditional Korean mugwort rice cake, this beverage offers a taste that many Starbucks enthusiasts in Korea will find familiar while also presenting an intriguing option for international travelers eager to explore local flavors.

This Frappuccino not only pays homage to Jeju's culinary heritage but also introduces a compelling texture and flavor profile to the Starbucks menu. The inclusion of mugwort and black sesame rice cakes creates a bridge between traditional Korean favorites and the modern Frappuccino, offering a rich, creamy experience that's both comforting and novel.

Jeju Black Sesame Cream Frappuccino

Jeju black sesame cream Frappuccino
Jeju black sesame cream Frappuccino - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

Inspired by the exclusive Jeju black latte, the Jeju black sesame cream Frappuccino is a twist on the traditional offering and a darker complement to the mugwort rice cake cream Frappuccino. This blended drink variation is adorned with sesame rice cakes both on top and mixed throughout, creating a texture-rich experience. Its distinctive rocky and gravelly gray color evokes memories of Jeju's Dol Hareubang, the stone statues affectionately translated as "old grandfather." These statues, scattered across the island, are iconic symbols of the region's heritage and culture.

Much like the Jeju mugwort rice cake cream Frappuccino, which pays homage to the island's lush greenery, the black sesame cream Frappuccino draws inspiration from the stoneware and sculptures that are quintessentially Jeju. This beverage offers a nod to the island's natural beauty and incorporates elements of its rich cultural landscape. Though the coloring may seem odd for a drink, considering the reference, we love the effect.

White Tiger Frappuccino

White tiger Frappuccino
White tiger Frappuccino - 김지현/Facebook

If you're a fan of the classic vanilla bean Frappuccino at Starbucks, you're already familiar with its delightfully sweet and smooth flavor profile. Now, imagine that same beloved consistency enhanced with the richness of a vanilla sweet cream cold foam flavor, coupled with the addition of rich brown sugar syrup, and you'll find yourself envisioning the white tiger Frappuccino. This drink is designed with visual appeal in mind; as the syrup cascades down the sides of the cup, it aims to mimic the striking appearance of a Yongin Everland white tiger, which is why this beverage is an exclusive offering at the Everland Reserve location, nestled within the heart of the theme park.

Everland, a large theme park in Korea, boasts an array of attractions, including rides, gardens, and even a zoo, drawing parallels to the likes of a Disney theme park. The white tiger Frappuccino enhances this experience, promising to be a delightful treat while exploring the park.

Strawberry Cold Foam Strawberry Latte

Strawberry cold foam strawberry latte
Strawberry cold foam strawberry latte - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

It's apparent that Starbucks in South Korea offers a broader array of caffeine-free options compared to its American counterparts, with even featured drink releases that cater to those preferring non-caffeinated beverages but still looking for something beautiful and unique. Among these is the delightful strawberry cold foam strawberry latte, a visually appealing concoction that layers strawberry cold foam atop milk and strawberry. There's also a version of this that offers a chocolate layer.

As a layered beverage, it requires a bit of mixing to enjoy its potential fully; we know from experience with similar beverages that the strawberry puree would settle into a dense layer at the bottom without stirring. However, once blended, the drink transforms into something reminiscent of strawberry milk. This strawberry cold foam strawberry latte's appeal lies in its vibrant flavor and presentation, making it a popular choice for those seeking a sweet, non-caffeinated indulgence.

Castella Crumble Strawberry Blended

Castella crumble strawberry blended
Castella crumble strawberry blended - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

At the heart of this drink lies crumbled castella, a type of sponge cake cherished for its simplicity and delightful texture, made from a straightforward blend of flour, eggs, sugar, and honey. Traditionally baked in a wooden cake pan, this method ensures the sponge develops its characteristic light and airy texture. The castella crumble strawberry blended drink celebrates this confection by generously topping the beverage with castella crumbles. This offering is another example of the caffeine-free options prevalent on the South Korean Starbucks menu, specially crafted to celebrate strawberry season with a delicious layer of strawberry puree within this intricately layered drink.

In contrast to the options at United States Starbucks locations, where drinks inspired directly by desserts are somewhat of a rarity outside of custom orders or secret menu creations, this drink stands out. It pays homage to the beloved castella cake and incorporates the seasonal joy of strawberries, resulting in a beverage that's a delicious nod to culinary tradition.

Cotton Sky Yogurt Blended

Cotton sky yogurt blended
Cotton sky yogurt blended - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

If the mesmerizing hues of a sunset sky, reminiscent of cotton candy, have ever caught your eye, then the cotton sky yogurt blended could very well become a favorite international beverage. Available at select South Korean Starbucks locations, particularly those boasting high-level, in-the-cloud views, this drink captures the essence of looking out at a cotton candy sky at sunset with flavors reminiscent of a piña colada.

Parallelling the colors dancing across a sunset sky, this one features a delightful layering of blue, white, orange, and peach colors. The experience created offers a visual and taste palette that perfectly mirrors the ethereal beauty of the sky. The topper is the show's real star, however, with a fluffy cotton candy puff representing those sunkissed clouds. This is definitely one of those drinks you'll want to capture images of before enjoying, because as soon as that cotton candy hits the beverage, it'll start melting right into it.

Yeosu Sea Grapefruit Fizzio

Yeosu Sea grapefruit fizzio
Yeosu Sea grapefruit fizzio - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

The Yeosu Sea grapefruit Fizzio stands out as another stunningly layered beverage, embodying the enchanting nighttime vista of the Yeosu Dolsandaegyo Bridge. This drink artfully combines tropical flavors with a captivating array of colors, designed to mirror the luminous spectacle observed on and around the bridge. The beverage's layers serve as a visual tribute to the bridge's vibrant lights and picturesque surroundings, creating a connection between the drinker and the scenic beauty of Yeosu.

Opened in 1984, the Dolsandaegyo Bridge serves as a colorful beacon that links Dolsan Island to the mainland. It has become especially renowned for its dazzling light display after dark. The Yeosu Sea grapefruit Fizzio deliciously pays homage to this lovely, bright structure, inviting those who sip it to imagine the serene and vivid tableau of the bridge illuminated against the night sky. Though Fizzio drinks were once an item you could order in some Starbucks locations in the United States, alas, you'll now need to travel elsewhere -- like South Korea -- to give these drinks a try.

Choux Cream Latte

Choux cream latte
Choux cream latte - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

The choux cream latte might not shout Korean culture at first glance, but the rarity of finding one outside of South Korea has us eager to try it. Essentially, it's a signature Starbucks latte at heart, blending milk, espresso, and a unique flavoring. What truly sets it apart is the copious cream topping, giving it that unmistakable cream puff allure.

This latte is available in both iced and warm options and caters to all coffee lovers' tastes. Starbucks promotes this as a quintessential springtime beverage, implying it's more of a seasonal special. With Starbucks in South Korea sometimes rolling out drinks celebrating the cherry blossom season in the spring, the popular choux cream latte returns and takes a more central role in 2024 instead. Even as the new year brings in the cherry blossoms, this latte stands out, embodying the spirit of spring with its seasonal flair and charm.

Fluffy Panda Hot Chocolate

Fluffy panda hot chocolate
Fluffy panda hot chocolate - Starbucks Korea/Facebook

Venturing back to the Everland theme park, there's a special chocolate drink that seems tailor-made for Instagram fame. Offered as either a hot chocolate or an iced chocolate variant, this beverage combines the cozy warmth of hot chocolate with the rich taste of hazelnuts. Adorning the top is a charming panda bear design, crafted with white and dark chocolate to capture the essence of this beloved animal.

Given Everland's reputation as a zoo and theme park, it's only natural that some of its exclusive beverages draw inspiration from the animal kingdom. The fluffy panda hot chocolate is no exception, serving as a delightful nod to the park's zoo inhabitants. Thanks to the little panda decorating the top of these drinks, we wish this Starbucks South Korea item would find its way to our local shop. After all, the most extravagant toppers we enjoy on our coffee tend to come from sprinkle shaker containers on seasonal and holiday beverages.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.