Sakura flavoured cheese — the product we never knew we wanted.

Hanami parties (cherry blossom viewing parties) are a staple here in Japan and something to look forward to every year; there’s nothing better than enjoying the beautiful sakura trees with some good friends, good food and good drink. But given the current state of things, gathering in large groups to eat, drink and be merry together is pretty ill-advised. In fact, last year the Tokyo government asked people to refrain from having hanami parties altogether, and as Japan is still in a state of emergency, it’s not looking likely that the government will be encouraging us all to have them this year, either.

▼ Getting this close to this many people just to enjoy a few snacks under a tree? Not this year, thanks!

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the taste of spring from the comfort of your own home. Japan is no stranger to putting out sakura flavoured things, so much so that it’s almost expected that, as spring rolls around, stores will turn a shade of delicate pink as their shelves are abundant with various sakura flavoured items.

Japanese company Morinaga Milk has entered the fray this year too, with the release of Mt. Rainier Sakura Latte (150 yen / US$1.43) and Lipton Sakura Tea Latte (128 yen / US$1.22). The Sakura Latte contains coffee made from 100-percent Arabica beans chosen by coffee experts, and has cherry blossom leaf extract added to the mix for the perfect spring beverage.

▼ The Lipton Sakura Tea Latte is made from 100 percent Kenyan tea, with a gentle cherry blossom taste.

Morinaga are most well-known known for making dairy products, and this year’s sakura line-up includes the Mochi Mochi Sakura with Azuki (Chewy Cherry Blossom with Red Beans). The dessert cheese comes in a six-pack — perfect for sharing with friends or just wolfing them down by yourself. Mochi, the Japanese rice cake made by pounding rice into a chewy paste, is often eaten as ‘sakura mochi‘ at springtime. Sakura mochi consists of a pink mochi rice cake, with a sweet red bean paste in the centre and wrapped in a pickled sakura leaf, as seen on the left in the image below. The Mochi Mochi sakura dessert cheese has glutinous powder added to the bottom to give it a sakura mochi-like texture.

▼ Morinaga Milk’s Sakura with Azuki dessert cheese (320 yen / US$3.05)

So if you decide to stay safe and keep indoors during hanami season this year, there’s no need to feel down. You may not be able to sit under the sakura trees as normal, but you can certainly enjoy the taste of spring with these sweet treats. Fingers crossed, if everyone does their part to stay safe and keep their distance, we might be able to have a safe sakura season next year!

Source, featured image: PR Times
Insert images: PR Times, Pakutaso
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