Cherry blossom latte: a pretty pink drink with a delicate flavor
Nothing cries more “springtime in Japan” than sakura, or cherry blossom.
In early spring, the whole country looks absolutely amazing, with pink flowers blooming everywhere.
But don’t worry if you can’t make it to Japan to see it for yourself, because there’s still a way to enjoy the colors and scent of sakura right in your cup: with a sakura latte.
In this article, I’ll show you how to make sakura latte in your very own kitchen.
I use cherry blossoms powder, but don’t worry if you don’t have any!: I will also share with you how to make sakura latte like in Japan’s Starbucks (and the truth is, often it doesn’t have real cherry blossom in it!)
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What is sakura latte?
Sakura latte combines cherry blossom and milk.
Sometimes it also has coffee in it, but it’s not a must.
Actually, I think it looks much prettier without coffee, because the milk gets a lovely pastel pink color.
Sakura latte a drink that has gained some popularity in Japan in recent years, as the Japanese love to celebrate the unique offerings of each season.
So, for a very short period of time in spring, you can find sakura latte in the menu of many cafes in Japan, including Starbucks.
Now, real cherry blossom (sakura) isn’t really the most common ingredient, even in Japanese pantries!
So, some sakura lattes don’t really contain cherry blossom powder, but strawberry instead.
In this post I’ll show you my tricks to make real sakura latte because I was lucky enough to find sakura powder online, but we’ll also see how to use alternative ingredients.
What does sakura latte tastes like?
The flavor of sakura latte is elegant, with natural sweet and mildly floral aroma.
It also may have a slightly, very subtle tangy aftertaste, that may remind of cherry fruits, only much more delicate.
Sakura milk has a very subtle and mildly aromatic taste that is not overpowering.
In fact, I would say that the sakura latte is more about its aroma than its taste, which is very delicate.
As a result, if you’re searching for a bold and strong flavor, the sakura drinks might be too mild for your liking.
Is there caffeine in sakura latte?
While you can buy or make sakura lattes with coffee or with matcha tea (these will have caffeine), sakura latte is typically a steamer drink (a milk-based drink) and therefore caffeine-free.
It’s called “latte” because it’s common in Japan to name any milk based drink as latte.
But just in case, take into consideration that some vendors make their sakura latte with coffee and the pink drink without coffee may have a name like “sakura milk latte”, so make sure to clarify before ordering, specially if you want to avoid coffee.
Can I make tea from cherry blossom petals?
The average Japanese person doesn’t pick up cherry blossom petals to make tea and I wouldn’t recommend it either.
Sakura flower can be eaten in small amounts by humans (be aware that it’s toxic for dogs and cats!).
But there are over 200 varieties of Japanese cherry trees and only a couple of them are commonly used for culinary uses; petals of many sakura sorts may taste bitter.
Can I make cherry blossom powder?
I did the experiment of drying cherry blossom petals myself, but the petals lost their pink color while drying (they turned greyish).
And as I expected (from that time I tried to make hojicha powder myself), the “powder” was too coarse.
So, unfortunately, sakura powder isn’t something you can DIY.
How to make pink sakura latte
The easiest way by far to make sakura latte is using sakura powder.
Sakura powder is made from finely powdered cherry blossom petals and it looks similar to matcha, just in a vibrant cherry pink color instead of green.
If you have cherry blossoms powder, making a pink drink with it couldn’t be easier: just combine the sakura powder with milk and sweeten to taste (if your powder isn’t already sweetened).
Bellow is how I make sakura latte:
Time needed: 5 minutes
How to prepare sakura steamer
- Make sakura concentrate
Follow seller’s instructions for using your sakura powder.
Usually sakura powder dissolves easily in water, but to prevent it from clumping, it’s good to stir it in a little amount of hot water first, making a sort of sakura concentrate.
If you desire (specially if your sakura powder is unsweetened) you may add some sugar or your preferred alternative to it.
Mix the sakura syrup with the milk.
The order in which you assemble the drink will not affect the taste:
If you want white froth on top, pour the sakura concentrate first and then add frothed milk.
If are looking for a pink drink, just combine the sakura concentrate with the milk together.
Serve cold or hot.
Feel free to top with some sakura powder, strawberry powder or other decorations.
Tricks to make iced sakura latte
Sakura milk latte is enjoyable both warm and cool.
Either way, it’s easier to dissolve sakura powder in hot water first.
If you want your sakura latte chilled, you can add cold milk and/or ice to it.
Ice cubes also serve as a barrier between the different liquids, so you can get a nice effect layering the milk and the sakura concentrate.
For a layered iced sakura latte like in the picture above, follow these steps:
- Fill a glass with milk up to about its 1/3
- Add ice until 2/3 of the glass are full
- Carefully pour sakura concentrate* on top
- Decorate with whipped cream and other toppings if desired
* For sakura concentrate, mix:
Just take into consideration that when you make layers with ice, the sakura concentrate might get a jelly-like texture because sakura powder contains natural pectins (at least the brand I use does).
If you want to avoid it, stir the sakura concentrate with the milk as soon as possible.
How to make sakura latte without cherry sakura powder
Would you like to enjoy the sakura feeling but don’t have cherry blossom powder?
I get it!
The truth is, most Japanese people don’t have sakura powder.
Even Starbucks Japan (which Sakura Lattes are hugely awaited every year, like Pumpkin Spice Latte in the west) often don’t have cherry blossom in it!
The essential part is to enjoy a pink latte with a mellow sweet taste, so you can use strawberry instead.
To complete the sakura aesthetics, top with some pink chocolate shavings (strawberry chocolate, raspberry chocolate or ruby chocolate are good for this) or pink macarons crumbles (this was the decoration for Starbucks sakura latte 2023).
Other sakura drinks you may Love
FAQ’s about sakura latte
Some people don’t like tea with flower scents that might remind of soap or cosmetics, like rose or lavender.
I am one of them.
While sakura powder does indeed smell like cherry blossoms, it also has its sutil its subtlety, so it doesn’t overwhelm the senses.
Because this light taste, my guess is that you may enjoy sakura latte even if you are someone that usually doesn’t like flowery tea.
Cherry blossom petals are naturally sweet, but since they taste so mild, sakura latte is usually served with some added sugar to it.
Some brands are already sweetened, some aren’t.
Sakura latte recipe
- Water cooker Optional: it helps warm water quickly
- 1 teaspoon sakura powder
- ¼ cup hot water (50 ml.)
- ¾ cup milk (around 180 ml)
- 1 teaspoon sweetener of choice* (I like using erythriol or xylit)
- Prepare sakura powder as recommended by seller. Most sakura powders dissolve much better in a small amount of hot water.If you are using unsweetened sakura powder, you may sweeten it to taste.
- Pour together milk and sakura. Optionally serve with froth or whipped cream on top.
I hope you enjoy this lovely pink beverage!
Sakura latte is a delicious, and has an elegant, mildly sweet taste that is very enjoyable.
Another pastel colored latte that you might like is this vanilla matcha latte.