Exclusive beverages are inspired by an ancient New Year’s calligraphy tradition to help customers “get excited over unknown Japan”.

Earlier this year, Starbucks announced they would be releasing a brand new series of Japan-exclusive drinks under the title “Starbucks Japan Wonder Project”. Based around the theme of “let’s get excited over unknown Japan”, the first instalment in the range was the Golden Roasted Green Tea Frappuccino, which showcased Kaga Bo Hojicha from the Kaga Domain (modern-day Ishikawa and Toyama Prefectures).

Kaga Bo Hojicha was chosen to be the star ingredient for the first Japan Wonder Project beverage as it has an important history tied to the creation of modern-day hojicha. This focus on the history and significance of local traditions is something that sets the Japan Wonder Project beverages apart from all other Japan-exclusive limited-edition Starbucks releases, and now they’ve announced their second addition to the range: the Goma Goma Goma Latte and Frappuccino.

Goma is the Japanese word for sesame, and these new drinks showcase the star ingredient with a triple hit of black, white and gold sesame seed sable cookie pieces sprinkled on top of a beautiful whipped cream topping.

According to the press release, the decision to feature sesame as the second instalment in the Japan Wonder Project range came about after the creative team looked at all of Japan’s New Year’s traditions and were particularly struck by the practice of kakizome, the first calligraphy of the year. This tradition stems back to a time when members of the Imperial Court would draw the first water of the year from the well to mix with their ink blocks, writing out beautiful calligraphy while facing the year’s designated “lucky direction”, according to the Chinese zodiac.

Today, many people in the country have grown up with these ancient kakizome customs, first as young students using calligraphy brushes to write out auspicious words like “dream“, “spring” or “long life“. The kakizome paper is then usually burned around 15 January, along with New Year’s decorations, in a festival called dondo-yaki, which is said to improve the writer’s handwriting skills over the coming year.

The Goma Goma Goma Frappuccino pays homage to the black ink and white paper of kakizome with a black sesame sauce and white milk blend.

Customers can enjoy the different patterns created around the cup with the ink-like sauce, while enjoying the crunchy topping and the subtle addition of honey, which is said to pair well with the sesame flavours.

The hot Goma Goma Goma Latte contains the same whipped cream and crunchy sesame topping as the Frappuccino, only with the extra addition of espresso. The roasted coffee and sesame creates “a delicious fusion of Japanese and Western flavours”, resulting in a rich, flavoursome and aromatic beverage unlike anything they’ve ever released before.

The Goma Goma Goma Frappuccino will be available in a tall size only, for 580 yen (US$5.15), while the latte will be available in Short through to Venti sizes, ranging in price from 440-560 yen.

Available around the country from 26 December to 15 January, Starbucks hopes its customers will be able to enjoy the new hot and cold beverages while pondering over Japan’s deep and meaningful New Year’s traditions.

Source, images: Starbucks Japan