The new limited-edition beverage takes its inspiration from a traditional Japanese springtime confection.

Spring has sprung at Starbucks in Japan, with the global coffeehouse chain releasing their seasonal lineup of sakura drinks around the country for a limited time from 15 February.

Our Japanese-language reporter Meg was first in line for a taste when the drink went on sale, keen to give our SoraNews24 readers all the details about the new cherry-blossom flavoured Frappuccino. According to Meg, this is one of the best seasonal beverages she’s ever tasted from Starbucks, and it’s one she thoroughly recommends trying if you get the chance.

▼ The Sakura Strawberry Pink Mochi Frappuccino
pairs cherry blossoms with strawberries for a refreshing springtime flavour.

While there’s no denying its beautiful appearance, what really got Meg’s attention was the fact that this beverage is modelled on a well-known traditional Japanese confection that’s popular at this time of year: sakuramochi.

Made from pink-coloured glutinous rice and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf, sakuramochi is synonymous with spring in Japan. According to Meg, the new Starbucks Frappuccino is surprising because it tastes exactly like sakuramochi.

▼ Starbucks Frappuccino on the left, Kansai-style sakuramochi on the right.

The creamy drink is topped with a beautiful sprinkling of strawberry and white chocolate shavings, to represent fallen cherry blossoms. The prominent flavour though, is sakura, which comes through in the pink sauce, pushing the strawberry flavour into the background to let the star blossom shine.

The highlight of the drink is its unusual glutinous texture, which comes from its star ingredient: Domyoji-ko, a dried powder made from steamed sticky rice. This sticky rice powder originates from Domyoji, a temple in Osaka where the rice was once said to cure illnesses, and is used mostly in sakura-flavoured Japanese confectionery today.

▼ The sakura sauce contains lumps of gelatinous mochi pieces,
which gives the drink an interesting texture.

In addition to Domyoji-ko, the beverage also contains pieces of salted cherry blossom leaf, which adds to its sakuramochi-like flavour. The only point of difference between this and an authentic sakuramochi is the absence of a red bean filling, but otherwise, all the same sweet, salty and slightly sour notes of the Japanese confection are all there in the drink. Meg was impressed by this level of attention to detail.

This isn’t the first time for Starbucks to combine strawberry and sakura flavours in their Frappuccino, nor is it the first time for them to  incorporate cherry blossom leaves in the popular drink. However, it is the first time for them to use the prized Domyoji-ko, and Meg, who’s been faithfully trying the sakura Frappuccino releases every year, says this addition makes it the best sakura Frappuccino she’s ever had.

▼ Meg took to Instagram to share her love for the new beverage.

Customers who take photos of the drink in-store can use one of 60 different sakura-themed frames to dress up their images for a limited time.

The Sakura Strawberry Pink Mochi Frappuccino is available for 580 yen (US$5.29) at Starbucks outlets around the country until 14 March. And for customers craving more cherry blossom drinks, Starbucks also has a Sakura Milk chilled cup on sale at convenience stores for a limited time.

Photos © SoraNews24
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