After the incredible success of the green tea Frappuccino, Meg tries out the new tea flavor exclusive to Japan.

Last Friday was the start of a three-day weekend in Japan, which had a lot of the local population excited. We were in fine spirits too, but not because of a day off. No, what put a spring in our step was the launch of a brand-new Frappuccino flavor at Starbucks.

On September 15 Starbucks locations across Japan rolled out the world’s first hojicha-based Frappuccino. Hojicha is a variety of roasted green tea that’s especially popular in Japan during the fall months, with a flavor that’s deeper and a bit nuttier than matcha or standard green tea.

We tasked our resident Frappuccino fan Meg with the grueling assignment of trying the new dessert beverage for herself, and while she could have sat and sipped it inside the coffeehouse, she instead took her drink to a local park to snap some photos in the sunshine.

The drink’s full name is the Hojicha Cream Frappuccino with Caramel Sauce. Loosely based on Starbucks’ pre-existing hojicha latte, the new Frappuccino has a hojicha base flavored with white mocha syrup, topped with whipped cream drizzled with caramel and dusted with crunchy large-grain sugar.

What really catches the eye, though, is the dark brown specks mixed into the drink, which are crushed hojicha tea leaves.

Starbucks uses five different varieties of tea in the drink, so it’s not like they just made a bulk purchase of the cheapest type they could get their hands on. As further proof of their generosity, you can even ask for a double portion of tea leaves by saying “Chaba no zouryou wo onegai shimasu” (“Please give me extra tea leaves”) when ordering, which is a free-of-charge customization option.

▼ Regular (left) and double (right) tea leaves

But while hojicha is the marque ingredient, the initial flavor of the first sip gives a different impression.

As with green tea, hojicha in Japan is traditionally drunk without any additional flavorings added to the brew (matcha lattes and hojicha lattes are actually pretty modern inventions). Because of the sugar and caramel, when the Hojicha Cream Frappuccino with Caramel Sauce hits your taste buds, the flavor resembles a black tea chiffon cake.

Not that that’s unpleasant at all. When the hojicha notes really come into play, though, is after swallowing a sip, when you can feel the aroma and essence of Japanese tea making its presence known.

That might sound like the sugar and caramel overpower the hojicha, but that’s oversimplifying things. Instead, the Hojicha Cream Frappuccino with Caramel Sauce presents a surprisingly complex mix of flavors, and the way in which the hojicha taste is both delayed but unmistakable ends up making this a uniquely satisfying Frappuccino experience.

The Hojicha Cream Frappuccino with Caramel Sauce is priced at 540 yen (US$4.90) for a tall, and will be available until October 1.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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