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With its startling name, it’s taking time for the yogurt-like beverage Calpis to catch on with non-Japanese consumers, who sometimes know it better by its alternate name, Calpico. For people in Japan, though, Calpis is old hat, so much so that its makers occasionally feel the need to mix up the product line with new versions and special flavors.

This year, that means strawberry Calpis. We just got our hands on a bottle, and if you can get past any hang-ups about the name, here are four ways to enjoy this delicious limited time treat.

These days, the most common way to drink Calpis is to buy it ready-made from vending machines and convenience stores. You can buy Calpis in concentrated form too, though, and that’s how the strawberry version, which went on sale November 10, is being sold.

Most young Japanese people haven’t had Calpis from concentrate since they were little kids, though, at which time their parents did the mixing, since they couldn’t be trusted to pour for themselves without spilling. Luckily, a quick glance at the label told us that for the recommended consistency and flavor, we should mix one part of concentrate with five parts of water, so we grabbed our glasses and got to stirring.

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First up, and simplest of all, we mixed the strawberry Calpis with water and drank it chilled. The resulting color is the sort of delicate pink evocative of either cherry blossoms or Pepto-Bismol, depending on how much of a romanticist you are.

What everyone will agree on, though, is that the mixture has the enticing scent of strawberries as you lift it to your lips. The flavor is sweet and delicious, like a bowl of crushed strawberries covered in condensed milk, the latter of which is also an ingredient in the concentrate.

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Next, we tried using soda water as our mixer. Maybe it was just because we were distracted by the bubbles, but this seemed to make the sweetness a little less pronounced and the drink itself a touch more sophisticated. If it’s still not mature enough for you, though, you can always add a pour of shochu, since Calpis is often used in Japanese chuhai and “sour” cocktails.

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Finally, we busted out our kettle and boiled some water to make hot strawberry Calpis with. To be honest, we were initially just doing this for the sake of science. We’ve had hot Calpis before with the drink’s regular flavor, and felt that heating it brought out more of its sour notes than we really need or want.

To our pleasant surprise, though, that didn’t happen this time. Thanks to the extra sweetness in the strawberry concentrate, the flavor stays balanced and delicious, even when warmed up.

Our bottle of Strawberry Calpis cost us just 460 yen (US $4.10), and makes 15 servings. It’ll be available until the end of January, making it a great option if you’re looking to serve some festive drinks to guests at your Christmas or New Year’s party, or just want a soothing hot dairy beverage to get you relaxed enough to hibernate until spring.

Photos: RocketNews24
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