Gaburi Suika includes the surprising addition of dragon fruit for a very limited-edition flavour combination.

Watermelon is synonymous with summer in Japan, where people enjoy a blindfolded game called “suikawari” (literally “watermelon splitting”) and have the option to send expensive watermelons as summer gifts.

The relatively large size of a watermelon lends itself to sharing with friends or partners, though, so for singletons like our reporter K. Masami, summers can go by without any real opportunity to eat the fruit. However, that won’t be happening this summer, thanks to Starbucks and its first-ever nationwide Watermelon Frappuccino.

▼ Called the Gaburi Suika, this new Frappuccino is said to mimic the sensation of taking a big bite (“gaburi”) out of a watermelon.

Masami hotfooted it down to her nearest Starbucks as soon as the new drink was released on 9 August, and after handing over 690 yen (US$4.82) for it, she couldn’t help but admire its resemblance to an actual watermelon. The bright red, fleshy, pulpy body of the drink, which contains watermelon juice, dragon fruit pulp and a sauce made with passion fruit juice, looked like the flesh of a watermelon, while the kiwi fruit pulp at the base did a good job of mimicking the green peel of the fruit.

Up top, the whipped cream is sprinkled with a dash of watermelon salt, made with salt and watermelon juice, as a nod to the common custom of sprinkling salt on watermelon when eating it in Japan.

Masami could hardly contain her excitement at being able to try such a revolutionary new flavour at Starbucks — previously, the chain released one watermelon Frappuccino as part of its 47-Frappuccino release to mark its 25th year of business in Japan, but that was only sold in Toyama Prefecture, home to the country’s largest watermelons. This new nationwide release marks the first time for customers around Japan to get a taste of a watermelon Frappuccino, and it’s entirely different to the one sold previously.

▼ So how did it taste?

Masami says that from the very first spoonful, she was blown away. The taste was just like watermelon, but the dragon fruit, passion fruit and kiwi pulp components helped to add depth to the flavour profile, creating extra complexity and sweetness before leaving her with the refreshing aftertaste of watermelon. The watermelon salt also played a central role in the mix, creating a familiar accent that reminded Masami of her childhood days, and the combination was so delicious she immediately declared it the hit drink of summer.

▼ The new Frappuccino is so special it even has its own photo spot at the counter where you can slide your drink in to commemorate the occasion.

Masami has recently been exploring customisations for new Starbucks Frappuccinos, but when she asked the barista if they had any customisation recommendations for this drink, they told her it would be best to try it as it is first, and then explore new customisations later.

It was a good recommendation that Masami recommends following as well, although she can’t help but think a splash of chocolate sauce might be a good partner for the fruity mix. She might try that next time she visits, as she says she’ll definitely be heading back for more of the Gaburi Suika before 31 August, when it’s due to disappear from the menu.

The new Frappuccino is only being made while stocks last, though, so if you’d like to try the hit drink of summer you’ll want to get in quick before they sell out!

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