Frappuccino connoisseur Meg muses on mascarpone green tea beverage.

December 26 is usually a pretty dull day in Japan. Christmas celebrations here actually peak on Christmas Eve, so by the time the 26th rolls around, most of the yuletide cheer has dissipated, and everyone is just sort of spinning their wheels until the New Year’s vacation period starts.

But this year we actually did have something to get excited about, as Starbucks chose December 26 as the debut date for a brand-new green tea Frappuccino. Though the chain has released a slew of different matcha Frappuccinos over the years, the Matcha & Fruity Mascarpone Frappuccino is its first green tea beverage with cheese, so we sent our Frappuccinoloving correspondent Meg to check it out.

▼ Meg, reporting from the field after finishing her in-office assignment of photographing a bunch of dudes in loincloths

While the idea of adding cheese to green tea sounds pretty crazy, Meg instead chose to look at the Matcha & Fruity Mascarpone Frappuccino concept from the opposite angle. Cheesecake is just as popular in Japan as it is overseas, and several cafes here serve matcha-laced cheesecakes, much to diners’ delight. Cheesecake with fruit isn’t all that unusual either. So from that perspective, Meg had high hopes for the new green tea and cheese Frappuccino, but the dessert drink still managed to hit her with a number of surprises.

Before taking a sip, Meg took a sniff. From the smell alone, you’d have a hard time telling there’s anything at all unusual about the Matcha & Fruity Mascarpone Frappuccino, since its scent is pure matcha (although the color is lighter than most matcha beverages).

The initial flavor is all green tea too, with matcha’s characteristic bitterness spreading gently throughout your mouth. But while matcha usually lingers for quite a while on your taste buds, the Matcha & Fruity Mascarpone Frappuccino (priced at 580 yen [US$5.20] for a tall) has no tea aftertaste. Instead, the matcha is quickly replaced by a fruity muscat finish, with a pleasant cheese sensation occurring during the transition.

Then, when Meg took a second sip, she got yet another surprise, experiencing a blast of extra sweetness thanks to the raisins mixed into the drink!

Previous Frappuccino flavors have made use of crushed nuts or bits of fruit, but this is the first time for whole raisins to be part of the package, and they impart a uniquely enjoyable taste and texture.

As matcha sweets and beverages have become increasingly popular in Japan, the trend has been to continually ratchet up the intensity of the green tea. Starbucks’ Matcha & Fruity Mascarpone Frappuccino runs in the opposite direction, though, by being a treat that delivers on its matcha promise, but also lets its other ingredients provide it with a refreshing finish, and one that Meg recommends trying during its limited-availability run between now and February 14.

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