What’s old is Nyu.

Starbucks Japan just rolled out its newest Frappuccino flavor this week. We know it’s new because it’s right there in the name: Fruit Gyu New Frappuccino.

The inspiration for the Fruit Gyu New, though, is actually an old-fashioned drink. “Gyu New” sounds similar to gyunyu, the Japanese word for “milk,” and the Fruit Gyu New is a Frappuccino-ization of the fruit-flavored milk drinks that used to be a mainstay of the Japanese soft drink scene, but are now more of a retro beverage, like a fruitier version of a malt.

Wanting to taste test this temporally complex dessert drink as quickly as possible, our Japanese-language reporter and resident Frappuccino guru K. Masami headed to her local Starbucks as soon as the Fruit Gyu New went on sale.

With its pastel yellow base and colorful toppings it definitely looks the part of a creamy, fruity drink, and Masami found the shade evocative of the cheery spring sunshine that we’re starting to see in Japan these days. The milk base is enhanced with seven different kinds of fruit, mango, banana, white peach, orange, mandarin orange, pineapple, and apple, and you also get five kinds of fruit pieces (apricot, mango, white peach, orange, and pineapple) mixed into the whipped cream topping, plus a cherry.

Taking a sip, Masami found that the banana makes the strongest first impression, but it in no ways crowds out the other members of the ingredient cast. All of the fruit flavors make their presence felt, and the milky beverage base mellows out any harsh edge their individual tartness levels might have had. The “weight” of the drink, so to speak, also felt perfectly balanced. This isn’t a light, inconsequential dessert drink, but it’s also not going to leave your taste buds feeling exhausted or your stomach bloated.

Even though the inspiration for the Fruit Gyu New Frappuccino is supposed to be fruit milk, Masami couldn’t help being reminded of another drink too: Osaka’s famous, and delicious, mixed fruit juices.

Starbucks Japan is fond of debuting new drinks in pairs, with both a Frappuccino and special coffee representing whatever the theme is. Debuting alongside the 610-yen (US$5.30) Fruit Gyu New Frappuccino is the Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Coffee Gyu New.

Though it skips the fruit elements, the 510-yen Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Coffee Gyu New fulfills its gyunyu/milk promise as well as its fuwa fuwa, or “fluffy and airy” pledge, with its three-layer composition. At the bottom is white mocha syrup, in the middle cold-brewed milk coffee with vanilla syrup, and on top a dollop of fluffy coffee mouse dusted with cocoa powder.

▼ The Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Coffee Gyu-New is available both hot (like Masami got hers) and cold.

Though there’s a lot of sweetness in the cup, the Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Coffee Gyu-New’s coffee beans are still readily apparent in the flavor profile, with a deep, rich taste. Masami found it to be a very sophisticated flavor, and the unique texture provided by the mousse topping was unlike any she’d ever had before in a coffee.

Really, Masami’s only complaints are that the Fruit Gyu New Frappuccino and Fuwa Fuwa Mousse Coffee Gyu-New are limited-time items. Considering that the cold-brew process for the coffee takes 14 hours, she figures there’s little chance of it becoming a full-time part of the menu, but for the time being, she’s happy to have these two new Nyu drinks.

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