One of Japan’s most distinctive flavours is blended into a McDonald’s milkshake for a limited time.

Calpis, or Calpico, as it’s sometimes known outside of Japan, is a drink that’s been around for 98 years. Created by lactic fermentation, the concentrated beverage was first introduced to the local market back in 1919, quickly becoming popular for its slightly milky and acidic taste, which added both flavour and health benefits to ordinary water.

Now, almost a hundred years after it was created, Calpis is being made available for a limited time as a Mcdonald’s milkshake.

We headed down to our local McDonald’s to get a taste of the new beverage, and when we arrived, we saw that it was served up in some very cute packaging.

The polka dot design makes the new McShake instantly recognisable as a Calpis-flavoured beverage. White dots against a blue background was the original look for the Calpis brand until the colours were inverted in 1953.

The polka dots are said to resemble the Milky Way, which is a reference to Tanabata, a Japanese star festival that pays homage to the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi on 7 July every year. According to legend, the deities exist as the stars Vega and Altai, which are said to cross the Milky Way to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.

Calpis is known to be one of the most refreshing drinks you can have during the hottest season of the year, so tying it in with the Tanabata festival, an event that marks the beginning of summer in Japan, makes perfect sense from a marketing point of view.

▼ While it’s usually mixed with water, or sometimes milk,
McDonald’s is now featuring Calpis as the star ingredient in their summer McShake.

Popping off the lid and taking a sip of the new McShake with a straw, we were pleasantly surprised by the taste. We really love the unusual, acidic flavour of Calpis in drinks, and while it’s usually watered out slightly in the mixing, here it appeared in robust form, filling every mouthful with a full hit of Calpis flavour, thanks to the rich creaminess of the thick milkshake.

Despite containing lactic acid, Calpis tastes very different to ordinary yoghurt, and though it’s tempting to label the new McShake as a yoghurt milkshake, it’s still entirely different, due to the distinct flavour of the star ingredient, which is both tart and sweet at the same time.

Whether you’re a visitor to Japan looking to try a unique Japanese flavour, or an adult who’s grown up with the nostalgia of Calpis drinks, this thick and creamy beverage is a tasty way to recharge during the heat of a Japanese summer.

The Calpis McShake is currently available in a small size for 120 yen (US$1.10) or medium size for 200 yen, and will be available at McDonald’s branches around the country until the middle of July.

Photos © SoraNews24

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