A very Japanese hanami flower-viewing experience. 

Now with Valentine’s Day out of the way for another year, it’s time to look towards the next big event on the calendar in Japan — the sakura cherry blossom season.

To mark the occasion,  Starbucks has released two new pink drinks: the Sakura Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino and the Sakura Blooming Milk Latte.

Our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami headed out to Starbucks to try the drinks as soon as they were released on 15 February, and when she sat down with them, she was immediately impressed by the way they looked.

The Frappuccino, for starters, was topped with a glorious mound of strawberry sakura chocolate shavings to resemble cherry blossom petals.

And there, on the side, was a very unusual addition — two flat pieces of nama yatsuhashi, a traditional Japanese sweet made from glutinous rice flour that’s also a local specialty of Kyoto.

That wasn’t the only traditional Japanese sweet included in the drink, as it also contained small pieces of shiratama, small, soft rice flour dumplings commonly used in traditional Japanese desserts.

▼ The chewy pieces of shiratama provided a great contrast to the smooth, rich creaminess of the drink.

Masami was impressed with how well the shiratama pieces worked in the Frappuccino, creating a real highlight that reminded her of the boba pearls in bubble teas.

While all the pink elements in the beverage made her feel as if she were drinking the cherry blossoms, every mouthful delighted her taste buds with the subtle but distinct flavour of sakura, thanks to the cherry blossom powder and strawberry juice blended through the base.

▼ The nama yatsuhashi was also a nice touch, as it made it seem more like a creamy dessert than a drink.

It was an absolutely delicious Frappuccino that set the bar high for its hot counterpart, the Sakura Blooming Milk Latte.

The exquisite latte art was the first thing that caught Masami’s attention, and it was so simple yet so beautiful she wondered why the chain had never thought to do this before.

It looked like a work of art, with chocolate sauce and strawberry sakura chocolate shavings creating the image of a sakura tree in full bloom.

Sipping the beverage brought the sakura tree right into her line of vision, giving her an up-close taste of the cherry blossoms. It was a very unusual hanami flower-viewing experience, enhanced by the subtle floral flavour that was beautifully aromatic, thanks to the frothy milk and warm sakura strawberry sauce.

As an added treat for spring, Starbucks is including a special QR code on their receipts so that customers can surround themselves with AR blooms and a friendly Bearista bear.

▼ This Bearista looks just as happy to see the sakura as we are.

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

The sakura drinks will only be on the menu for a limited time, with the latte available until 15 March and the Frappuccino on sale until 12 April, with a topping change promised from 16 March.

It’s a great way to herald in the long-awaited arrival of spring, and if you’d like even more sakura with your Starbucks, don’t forget to check out their new drinkware collection and the very special cherry blossom menu over at the Tokyo Roastery.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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