All About Japan

Starbucks Welcomes Spring '21 with New Flavors

| Cafés , Cherry Blossoms

Right now in Japan, the plum blossoms have begun to bloom, and the buds of the cherry blossoms are just beginning to swell. It’s a beautiful time of year that Starbucks hopes to capture in a cup with annual sakura-flavored releases, and today we got a taste of their newly released offerings for 2021: Sakura Fuwari Berry Frappuccino and Milk Latte.

“Fuwari” translates to “light” or “gentle”, as illustrated by the new poster, which shows the drinks floating on a sakura breeze. Our reporter K. Masami was one of the first in line to order the new drinks when they were released in stores today, and she was particularly excited to taste the new Frappuccino to see how it stacked up to those from previous years.

The berry components are strong here, with a sakura strawberry sauce blended into the classic milk base, and raspberry panna cotta pieces added for textural drama. On top is a mound of whipped cream with a scattering of freeze-dried strawberries and sakura-and-vanilla-flavored sponge crumbs, which are said to resemble the blossoms.

Starting at the top of the Frappuccino, Masami was pleased to find the toppings weren’t just there for appearance’s sake–they were delightfully chewy and light on floral notes but strong on berry flavor, acting as a prelude for the rest of the drink.

Dipping her spoon into the body of the beverage, Masami dug out a good dollop of everything and brought it up to her mouth, and as soon as it hit her tongue the first thing she tasted was…panna cotta! The raspberry panna cotta had a velvety texture that was immediately addictive, and the tartness of the fruit was a great contrast to the light, gentle flavor of cherry blossoms. With a gentle sweetness and refreshing tartness, this was the perfect embodiment of spring.

After finishing every last spoonful of the delicious Frappuccino, Masami moved on to the Sakura Fuwari Berry Milk Latte, which contains a combination of warm milk and sakura strawberry sauce, made with strawberry juice and powdered sakura flowers. This beverage doesn’t contain raspberry panna cotta, which means it has fewer tart notes and a more gentle sweetness that’s both delicious and warming. Perfect for cold February days like today.

Another new limited-time menu item is the Strawberry Pink Mousse White Mocha (460 yen). While it doesn’t contain any sakura, this one has all the lovely pink hues of Japanese spring, with a shot of mocha and a pink mousse topping, created with a mixture of strawberry juice and white chocolate.

So how do Starbucks’ new sakura drinks stack up compared to releases from previous years? According to Masami, the new drinks are tarter and more exciting to drink than last year’s offerings, which combined the blossoms with strawberry and milk pudding pieces. Although she would’ve liked this year’s toppings to be a little bit chunkier, like the ones seen in 2019, she hands-down recommends trying this year’s drinks and she’ll definitely be going back for more before the end of sakura season.

Both drinks will only be available for a limited time, though, with the Frappuccino, priced at 590 yen (US$5.62) for a tall, on the menu until April 13, and the latte, priced at 450-570 yen until March 16.

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