Hanami drinks pair cherry blossoms with some very special traditional ingredients.

Spring is fast approaching in Japan, and for Starbucks fans that means one thing — the long wait for the annual Sakura Frappuccino reveal is finally over!

This year, the coffeehouse chain is giving us the Sakura Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino, and as the name suggests, the main stars of this Starbucks release are sakura, strawberry and shiratama, small, soft rice flour dumplings commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts.

In this drink, the shiratama pieces are light pink and appear throughout the sauce, which is combined with a milky base made with cherry blossom powder and strawberry juice and then blended together with ice. The beverage is finished off with a mound of whipped cream and topped with shavings of strawberry sakura chocolate that are said to resemble cherry blossom petals.

▼ The Sakura Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino

What’s got us really excited about the drink is the fact that it contains two flat pieces of nama yatsuhashi, a traditional Japanese sweet made from glutinous rice flour that’s considered a local specialty of Kyoto.

According to Starbucks, all these ingredients work harmoniously together to create a well-rounded mix of strawberries and cherry blossoms, while the chewy texture of the shiratama pieces provides an exciting contrast, giving us the sense that we’re drinking a cup of cherry blossoms in full bloom.

That’s not the only sakura drink to excite our senses at Starbucks this upcoming hanami flower-viewing season, as there’ll also be a hot counterpart called the Sakura Blooming Milk Latte.

This beverage combines warm milk with strawberry sakura sauce, but the real pièce de résistance is the special latte art, which depicts a cherry blossom tree in full bloom, using chocolate sauce and shaved strawberry chocolate.

The “cherry blossom landscape” captured in the special latte art is so gorgeous the chain is offering it as a limited-time customisation called the “Full Bloom Sakura Topping“. This allows you to add a cherry blossom tree to any other hot drink on the menu that contains a foamed milk or hot cream topping, for an additional 55 yen (US$0.48).

▼ And if you’re feeling peckish, there’ll be Sakura Doughnuts on the menu for a limited time, priced at 275 yen ($2.39) each.

The Sakura Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino will be sold in a tall size only, priced at 680 yen for eat-in and 668 yen for takeout, while the Sakura Blooming Milk Latte will be sold in Short through to Venti sizes, priced from 510-630 yen.

The Sakura Blooming Milk Latte will be on the menu from 15 February to 15 March, while the Frappuccino and doughnut will be around for a little longer, from 15 February to 12 April. Starbucks says the topping on the Frappuccino will change from 16 March, so we look forward to finding out what that entails.

For now, though, we’ll be sipping on this chocolatey ganache-filled Frappuccino while it’s still available until Valentine’s Day.

Source, images: Press release
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