Like clockwork, and ahead of the sakura (cherry blossom) season by nearly a month, Starbucks Japan has released this year’s sakura flavored latte to the cherry blossom craving masses. Not one above the sakura madness, I went out and tried these new pink concoctions and left with a budding feeling to make an appointment with my dentist.
The sakura latte is Japan’s answer to the USA’s famous pumpkin spice latte, which is essentially melted ice cream in a cup that basic people say is their “favorite” when you ask them if they drink coffee. For 2020 Starbucks rolled out a new “Sakura Milk Latte” and a “Sakura Milk Pudding Frappuccino.”
What do cherry blossoms taste like?
If I had to describe the flavor of sakura, it would be cherries dipped in condensed milk and sprayed with floral fabric softener. It isn’t half bad, really. Starbucks’ sakura drinks, however, use strawberry juice. The flavor doesn’t really taste like sakura but go ahead and call me #basic because I like it. I also like all the overpriced, Japan-only, pink, sakura-themed tumblers and merch because I am a consumer zombie.
The latte is rather good if you’re really into sweet drinks, and the cute pink flower petals—actually crunchy cereal—are a nice touch. It’s perfect for other basic people who enjoy watching The Office and list eating, drinking, and traveling as hobbies on their Tinder profile. While I wouldn’t call it coffee—its ingredients are listed as sakura flower powder and strawberry juice topped with cranberries—I would call it a hot cocoa alternative.
The Sakura Milk Latte will run from Feb. 15 to March 12 while the Sakura Milk Pudding Frappuccino will only be available until Feb. 25.
As for the sakura milk pudding frappuccino, I couldn’t even finish it. It was just too sweet for me—an American who grew up eating Fruity Pebbles for dinner and washing my mouth out with orange soda.
I felt like the biggest wannabe Instagram poser as I handed a tray with a barely touched tall frappe on it to the girl behind the counter to be disposed of. She watched as I took pictures of it for 15 minutes for this review, tasted it, recoiled, and handed it back to her. If you’re reading this, humble Starbucks barista, please find it in your heart to forgive me.
First of all, as mentioned above, it is still winter. Only maniacs enjoy frappes in winter. Also, as the name suggests, it’s made with a base of milk-flavored pudding. Only it’s more like jelly than pudding, which is all the rage here in Japan, but it’s not for me. I don’t like gelatinous cubes bouncing off the back of my throat when I take a drink of something.
Get your Sakura lattes until March 12
Both drinks taste like pure sugar. The same ingredients and flavors as the sakura milk latte make up the frappe, but the glob of pudding pushes it over the edge. After one sip, I blacked out and envisioned the Cavity Creeps storming enamel gates like Sauron’s army in The Two Towers.
If you choose to forgo my sugar warnings and try one of these sugary beverages for yourself, you don’t have long. The Sakura Milk Latte will run from Feb. 15 to March 12 while the Sakura Milk Pudding Frappuccino will only be available until Feb. 25. Until then, I can only say a silent prayer for the teeth of Japan.