Next stop on our Frappuccino tour is down south on the island of Kyushu.

Oita prefecture may not be particularly well known outside of Japan, but within Japan we hold the nationwide title when it comes to four things in particular: we are the most popular hot spring prefecture, we eat the most fried chicken in the whole country, we produce the most kabosu fruit, and my favourite Oita fact of all, we are home to the most tunnels.

So when I heard about Starbucks Japan’s 47 Jimoto campaign, where the coffeehouse chain is releasing limited edition Frappuccinos with flavours unique to each prefecture, I couldn’t help but wonder what flavour would be in the Oita version. Would they use hot spring water in their Frappuccino? Would it come with a fried chicken topping?

Of course not. They went with the kabosu fruit angle instead — the Oita-exclusive drink is the Wakuwaku (Exciting) Kabosu Citrus Tea Frappuccino Blended Juice Drink.

The kabosu fruit is a citrus fruit widely produced throughout Oita prefecture, similar to yuzu with a sour taste. Said to have come to Japan from China during the Edo period (1603-1867), over 90 percent of kabosu sold in Japan are grown here in Oita.

The fruit is usually paired with Japanese cuisine, such as soba, fish, and miso soup, and sometimes used instead of vinegar due to its mildly sour taste. Kabosu is so synonymous with Oita that there is even a prefectural mascot character called “Kabotan”.

When I heard the Frappuccino would be kabosu based, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. As someone who has lived in Oita for well over a decade, I’ve had my fair share of kabosu drinks, and I couldn’t think how Starbucks would be able to make anything new and exciting with their Frappuccino.

It felt a little bit like a cop-out, like Starbucks couldn’t be bothered to come up with something more interesting.

▼ The Frap map of Japan, with each prefecture’s offering in the proper geographical location. Oita is down the bottom

But as I entered Starbucks, I started feel optimistic. There were signs and drawings everywhere of the drink, as well as a signboard sharing some history and facts about kabosu.

There were also mini paper kabosu for customers to write how they liked to use the fruit in their cooking, which they could stick to the board for everyone to read. People here in Oita really love kabosu!

▼ But what about the actual drink itself?

The Oita Frappuccino has a kabosu juice base, blended with ice and citrus pulp, topped off with whipped cream and honey drizzled on the top. While the inclusion of kabosu is an obvious homage to Oita’s favourite fruit, the layer of citrus pulp on the bottom is a nod to Oita’s popular hot springs with the whipped cream layer representing the hot spring steam.

All in all, visually it’s a perfect representation of Oita prefecture… minus the chicken and tunnels, of course.

▼ You can see the citrus pulp along the side and settled at the bottom.

As I stuck my straw in, I immediately hit a crossroads in what to do next. Should I mix it up to get an even blend of juice and pulp? But by doing that, I’d be destroying the hot spring layer, so I decided to take a sip of the drink in its purest form.

Which was a mistake.

I was immediately met with chunks of solid citrus pulp, which were incredibly sour. Kabosu is known for its mildly sour taste, but this was just too sour for me.

So I gave the drink a solid stir and took another sip. This time, the blend of the mildly sour kabosu juice, with the citrus pulp and drizzled honey, was like a taste explosion in my mouth. 

The sweetness of the honey perfectly balanced out the sourness of the kabosu, and what was left was a refreshing, sweet Frappuccino, perfect for the summer.

Summer hasn’t quite reached the Oita shores just yet, but I still felt the need to take it outside in the muggy heat to feel the full force of how refreshing it tasted. Here it is in front of Mt. Takasaki, famous for the wild monkeys that live there.

The Oita Wakuwaku Kabosu Tea Frappuccino Blended Juice Drink far exceeded my expectations, and made me feel proud to call Oita my home. We may be a relatively unknown place compared to places like Tokyo and Osaka, but we can make some delicious drinks.

And after all, it’s not like kabosu is the only exciting thing going on down here in Oita — check out our politicians!

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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