SS 5

Is it spring yet? I know my southern Californian upbringing means I whine whenever the temperature is cold enough that I have to put on a jacket to go out, but I could seriously do with some warmer weather right about now. There’s all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming season, such as longer days, being able to spend more time outdoors, and the blooming of the sakura, or cherry blossoms.

And just in case the deal needs any more sweetening, there’s also Starbucks’ springtime sakura beverage lineup.

One of the keys to Starbucks’ success in Japan is the way the chain goes the extra mile in adapting to local tastes and customs (so, I guess really we should say they go the extra kilometer). Japan loves its seasonal indulgences, and every few months Starbucks parades out a new drink or snack, before swapping it out for something even newer a few months down the road.

The Japanese practice of eating certain foods at specific times of the year even has cultural precedents. Every year on March 3 the country celebrates Hinamatsuri, also known as girl’s day. Part of the festivities include eating a traditional confectionary called sakura mocha, made with the leaves from a cherry blossom tree and occasionally the flowers as well.

SS 1

Taking inspiration from the indigenous treat, Starbucks will be offering a new beverage, the sakura chocolate latte with strawberry flavored topping. Not the most elegant name, but like a supermodel with a limited vocabulary, you don’t need to be eloquent when you look this good.

SS 2

The hot white chocolate-based drink is made with real sakura flowers and leaves, and topped with strawberry infused whipped cream and crumbled pieces of strawberry chocolate candy.

If you’ve yet to master the Japanese techniques for drinking piping hot beverages, you can instead get a sakura chocolate Frappuccino, the blended beverages that Starbucks ensures you are definitely not milkshakes. The chilled Frappuccino is topped with the same candies as the latte, meaning that you can either enjoy the chunky texture of sucking it through a straw, or grab a spoon and eat the toppings like the liquid dessert this beverage really is.

The latte will set you back between 430 and 550 yen (US $4.10 to $5.25), depending on size, while prices for the Frappuccino run from 510 to 590 yen. Both drinks will be on sale only from February 15 to March 18, so remember to get yours before the actual sakura start blooming in April.

▼ The sakura are a poignant metaphor for the transient, fleeting nature of happiness (and cream-based beverages).

SS 3

Source: Fashion Press
Top image: Starbucks Japan
Insert images: Chiyoda Days, Yahoo! Japan, Soku Up