Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Spring Madness! Sakura Flavoured Food

Photo: Yuichi Sakuraba on Flickr

Spring Madness! Sakura Flavoured Food

Louise Dupuy

As many of you know, sakura (cherry blossom) appearing on trees all across Japan (starting in Okinawa) is an important part of the year, with forecasts released to let folk know the best Hanami (sakura viewing) spots throughout the Spring season. Sakura are a beautiful, pink blossom (varieties in shade depending on region) that bloom earliest and wilt quickly. Said to represent life’s fleeting nature, they are admired and celebrated yearly. But like I said, you probably knew this, right?

Here’s something you may or may not know... Sakura is made into treats and eaten! Sounds strange? Well I decided I needed to try some sakura flavoured goodies, and report back, to you, our loyal readers! aren’t I kind? Anyway, it turns out you can do rather a lot with a little pink flower, here’s my findings.

Sakura melon bread

Picture 001

Melon bread is actually a popular year round bakery item, available in other flavours too (chocolate, plain, even black, I assume squid ink, but I haven’t been brave enough to try it yet). The sakura one is a mottled pink, with a sakura spread inside. It’s ridiculously sweet, but so delicious. Great as a one time treat, or split and shared with friends as a light snack, it would go down a treat with tea or coffee.

Sakura chocolate latte

Picture 002

I’m not a huge coffee lover really, but “tis’ the season” as they say! This drink had chocolate in it (local coffee house, not a chain, Starbucks offer a straight latte with sakura, which you can buy in house or from a convenience store) which sweetened the deal. It was actually pretty good, the first half of the drink had a creamy chocolate overtone, mixed with the sakura it tasted quite refreshing. The coffee kicked in halfway down, giving the drink a slightly bitter edge. Still enjoyable, even for someone who takes tea over coffee every time. It even came garnished with a little pickled sakura blossom, which was also bitter, and not in a good way!

Sakura cake

Picture 003

And so we get to the really good stuff. Cake. This is a Starbucks seasonal special, a thick, moist sponge with a soft pink colour, heavily frosted with white icing (soft, not hard), and finished off with a pickled blossom. One might say it was the cherry on top! (sorry). Taste wise, it was sort of like strawberry? It’s a hard flavour to discern. But very sweet, so if you love sweets, you’ll likely love sakura flavoured stuff. This is funny though, because the blossom itself is very bitter, though I feel this is due to the pickling rather than the flower itself (maybe I should eat one fresh off a tree to test the theory). The sponge was light and fluffy, and the icing was soft, a great compliment. It’s a big slice of cake, so I was kind and shared, but of course, if you chose to eat one to yourself, you’d get no judgement from me.

Sakura Frappuccino

Picture 004

Another drink, this time it’s a Starbucks frappuccino. This is basically an iced drink with sakura and strawberry mixed with cream, topped with cream, syrup and sprinkles. Delicious. Very refreshing, very sweet and very bad for your diet! These are limited to the Spring period though, so catch one before they’re gone for another year. Starbucks also do a range of gifts every year with a sakura theme. These are hugely popular and tend to sell out really quick, so good luck finding any! If you can’t I still recommend giving one of the food or drink items a go, even if it’s just the once.

Other treats to be found (I’m still looking, but I know they exist) are ice cream, crisps/potato chips, and chocolate/candy. If you find and try any, let me know! I’d love to hear of your food adventures!

Picture 005