The ingredients of this Frappuccino, including kelp, don’t just taste great, traditional Japanese culture says they’ll give you blessings for the year to come.

In Japan, the biggest Christmas events and parties take place on December 24, and the country switches over into New Year’s mode pretty quickly after that. That includes Starbucks Japan, which rolled out a new Japanese New Year’s-themed Frappuccino on December 26.

▼ Never ones to have much willpower regarding sweets, we rushed out to try it on launch day.

“Oh, a green Starbucks Japan Frappuccino? It must be matcha-flavored,” you’re probably saying to yourself, and you’re right…or half right…or maybe three quarters right? It depends on how you do the math. The Matcha Genmai Mochi Frappuccino’s base does include matcha green tea (three different kinds of it, to be exact), but it also has genmaicha, brown rice tea, making it a luxurious four-tea blend.

Perched on top is a jiggly dollop of matcha mousse, making the drink look sort of like kagami mochi, the towering stack of rice cakes set out as auspicious decorations at New Year’s in Japan. Speaking of mochi, there are also little bits of yakimochi, toasted rice cake, mixed into the Matcha Genmai Mochi Frappuccino’s base, giving it another connection with Japan’s tradition of eating mochi at New Year’s as a fortuitous symbol of longevity (mochi’s stretchy properties being seen as a metaphor for long life).

There are even two kakushiaji (“hidden flavoring”) contributors: kuromame (sweet black bean) powder and kombu (kelp). Both of these are common elements in osechi ryori, Japan’s classical New Year’s cuisine where every dish has some fortuitous meaning to it (mame is also a Japanese word for “health,” and kombu sounds similar to yorokobu, or “to be happy”).

▼ In keeping with their kakushiaji status, the kuromame powder and kombu aren’t visible.

The drink is both stylish and cute to look at, thanks to its beautiful color and the matcha mousse sort of looking like a cuddly character. The real joy, though, is in the drinking. The mellower bitter aspects of the matcha work very well with the sharper, almost nutty astringency of the brown rice tea, with the milky cream helping to smooth out any contrasting edges and also helping blend in the noticeable mochi/rice notes. Honestly, we couldn’t notice the kuromame and kombu (again, “hidden flavorings”), but even if they weren’t making their individual presences felt, the overall effect of everything together was wonderful.

When we asked the Starbucks staff if they had any customization recommendations, they actually told us their favorite way to drink the 678-yen (US$4.90) Matcha Genmai Mochi Frappuccino is as is, with their only suggestion being to maybe ask for yours to be made with non-fat milk if you want the tea flavor to be even stronger as it meets your taste buds. Either way, though, this is a great Frappuccino to end or start the year with, and it’ll be available until January 17.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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