No need to wait until spring to sip these cherry blossom and strawberry treats.
The timing of Starbucks’ release of its two new sakura-themed beverages is a bit of a head-scratcher. They became available on February 15, making them too late for Hina Matsuri, the Japanese holiday on which it’s customary to eat the confectionary called sakura mochi, which is made with leaves from the cherry blossom tree. On the other hand, the seasonal drinks will only be around until mid-March, a couple of weeks before the actual cherry blossoms start blooming across most of Japan.
Still, it’s never really a bad time to enjoy some sakura treats, so we made a trip to our local Starbucks to try out the company’s new Sakura Blossom and Strawberry beverages, which are available in both Frappuccino and latte versions.
Both are exclusive to Japan and are made from similar ingredients. We decided to start with the chilled Frappuccino, which is cream-based and contains no coffee, making it a pure dessert drink.
Visually, the white and pink color scheme had us feeling like spring had come, even as the February rain drizzled down outside. One of the most beautiful things about actual cherry blossoms is the way that their petals create a carpet of fallen flowers beneath the trees when the wind blows, and Starbucks’ new Frappuccino recreates the effect with a generous dusting of pink strawberry-flavored chocolate shavings.
▼ Speaking of strawberry, the scent has a hint of fruit to it.
But the pink color isn’t the only connection to cherry blossoms here, as the drink also contains cherry blossom petals and salt-preserved sakura tree leaves. Taking a sip, the richness of the cream and tart sweetness of the strawberry chocolate complement each other well, even as they make their presences felt separately. The best part, though, is the light and refreshing salty aftertaste.
The list of ingredients is the same for the Sakura Blossom and Strawberry Latte, except that it’s served hot, and therefore doesn’t have the blended ice of the identically named Frappuccino.
However, that’s not to say the only difference is that one will warm you up and the other will cool you off. The lack of ice and the extra heat of the latte causes the drink’s sweet, tart, and salty flavors to melt into one another, making for a smoother, milkier taste than that of its slushy counterpart.
So, much like we can’t be too angry for Starbucks for its odd timing in selling these drinks, we can also forgive it for stretching one set of ingredients into two drinks, since they’re both delicious in their own unique way. A tall Sakura Blossom and Strawberry Frappuccino will set you back 550 yen (US$4.60), while a tall latte is a little cheaper at 470 yen. Both are available at Starbucks Japan locations until March 15.
[ Read in Japanese ]