Hanami flower-viewing never tasted so good.

As we await the annual blooming of Japan’s sakura trees, Starbucks is already giving us a second flush of flowers, with a new Frappuccino called the Sakura Cassis Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino.

▼ The new Frappuccino is available in a tall size, priced at 680 yen (US$5.92) for eat-in and 668 yen for takeout

This second sakura release of the year follows on from the first instalment, the Sakura Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino (pictured below).

As the names of the two drinks suggest, they’re quite similar — they both contain sakura strawberry sauce and shiratama rice flour dumpling pieces in the base, along with sakura strawberry chocolate shavings on top and two flat pieces of nama yatsuhashi, a traditional Japanese sweet made from glutinous rice flour that’s considered a local specialty of Kyoto.

However, according to our Starbucks expert K. Masami, who tried the new drink as soon as it was released on 22 February, the addition of cassis in the latest Frappuccino manages to change both the appearance and the flavour of the beverage completely.

The look of the drink is deliciously darker, and Starbucks says this is to symbolise the cherry blossoms at night. And to really drive home the nighttime experience, Starbucks released the Frappuccino at 5:00 p.m. on 22 February, an unusual move for the chain, who usually sells new limited-edition drinks as soon as the doors open on release day.

▼ The cherry blossoms do look different at night.

The moody looking drink packed a big punch of sweet-and-sour cassis notes on first sip, but surprisingly, this didn’t wash out the flavour of the sakura, which lingered on in the finish. The delightfully chewy texture of shiratama was alive and well in every mouthful, and its slight sweetness matched the sourness of the cassis perfectly.

It was similar yet different to the first sakura Frappucino of the season, but Masami couldn’t pick a favourite because, liked the daytime and nighttime cherry blossoms, they each had a unique, beautiful appeal.

▼ Pairing the drink with a sakura doughnut made Masami’s taste buds feel as if they were caught in a delicious flurry of petals.

The new Sakura Cassis Strawberry Shiratama Frappuccino is a drink that’s definitely worth trying, and it’ll be on the menu until 15 March, along with the second instalment of full-bloom sakura goods and drinkware.

Photos © SoraNews24
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