This warm and fragrant Sakura Latte is a delicious drink made of cherry blossoms in full bloom and milk.
Known as “sakura” in Japanese, cherry blossoms symbolize spring. However, because their bloom span is very short, they are also symbols of the fleeting nature of life.
I was inspired by this recipe when I read an article about Starbucks Japan serving Japanese sakura lattes to their customers. What a treat, I thought to myself. Going through the article, I learned that cherry blossoms are very popular in Japan and are used to make tea, sake or mochi.
Our cherry tree in the garden is just stunning, and when in bloom, I see the beauty that uplifts the spirit. So I used two handfuls to make this delicious cherry blossom frappuccino.
What is Sakura latte?
A Sakura latte is a delicious and visually appealing drink that celebrates the beauty of the cherry blossoms. The sakura latte is typically made by infusing milk with freshly picked cherry blossom flowers. While store-bought versions use cherry blossom syrup or powder as an alternative, this homemade sakura latte starts with foraging cherry blossoms and infusing them in milk. This gives the latte a delicate floral flavor and a beautiful pink color reminiscent of Japan’s cherry blossom season.
What does sakura latte taste like?
Raw cherry petals have a rich, floral taste with almond notes and a hint of fruitiness and bitterness.
Their sweet, floral aroma gives sakura latte a unique flavor described as delicate, floral, and slightly sweet. While it is not cherry flavored, it has a cherry blossom aroma.
Is there caffeine in the sakura latte?
This sakura latte recipe is a caffeine-free beverage that uses milk infused with cherry blossoms. However, you can use a shot of espresso or black tea to add a caffeine kick.
Ingredients to make sakura latte
Cherry blossoms (Prunus species) belonging to the Rose family (Rosacea) are uniquely floral and fragrant and make a stunning garnish. Unfortunately, while several prunus plants produce edible cherries, hundreds of ornamental cherries don’t produce any cherries. This is because they have been bred for their delicate scent and double flowers rather than fruits.
Are cherry blossoms edible?
While Cherry blossoms are a popular addition to various Japanese dishes, including meals, desserts, and teas, not all are edible. For example, the evergreen shrub cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is not edible.
When foraging for cherry blossoms, search for The true wild cherry tree (Prunus avium), also known as sweet cherry. They are native to Europe but cultivated everywhere, including North America and Australia. Their white flowers have five petals and are held in clusters of two to six flowers. They have oval leaves with pointed tips and red knobs on the stalk at the leaf base. Always search for trees that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals.
I like to use whole milk or cream when infusing fresh cherry petals in milk. The higher fat content helps to extract and retain more of the delicate flavors and aromas of the cherry blossom milk, making the infusion richer and more flavorful.
Alternatively, you could use non-dairy milk for lactose intolerance, such as almond, oat milk or coconut, to create a vegan-friendly version. However, the flavor and texture may be slightly different. I haven’t tried it, so you may experiment with different types of milk to find the one that best suits your taste.
You can use any sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or sugar to sweeten the latte.
Sakura latte recipe
First step – collect cherry blossoms
Make sure you identify the cherry tree correctly. We will use just flowers so that you can remove all stems, leaves, and stalks.
Second step – infuse cherry blossoms in milk overnight.
Place all the small blossoms in a jar or a bowl. Pour cold cream over and cover the jar with a lid. Keep it refrigerated for 24 hours. I have tried using warm cream but it didn’t work well. The blossoms darken in color and lose their intense smell. So make sure you use cold cream.
Third step – strain the blossoms.
On the second day, strain the sakura milk using cheesecloth or a fine strainer and place it in a pot.
Fourth step – warm gently and add sweetener.
Warm the sakura-flavored milk gently. Once you are happy with the temperature, remove it from the stove, add a sweetener, and mix it well.
Fifth step – whip cream.
You can whip a part of your infused milk. Use a milk frother to whip the cream into a frothy and foamy consistency.
Sixth step – assemble and serve.
Pour sakura-flavored milk into your cup. Use a tablespoon to spoon the frothed milk over. Garnish it with fresh sakura blossoms.
Best tips and trick
In order for the cream to take over the smell and aromatic flavor of sakura flower, keep the pollen on the blossom. The pollen is a carrier of taste and smell so make sure you collect the flowers on a sunny day. Collecting just after it has rained will hinder their unique smell and taste. Don’t wash the flowers. Just carefully observe them and remove bugs or ants if needed. Then the blossoms are ready for infusion.
Variations of cherry blossom petal latte at home
Sakura tea or coffee latte
Add one shot of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong black tea to make a coffee-based drink. It adds richness and depth while still enjoying the subtle floral notes of the Sakura infusion.
Sakura strawberry latte
Sakura Strawberry latte is available in some tea shops as a pink drink. This latte mixes with fresh strawberries that it blends in a blender before adding them to the Sakura latte for a strawberry milk drink. This warm drink has a refreshing taste and pinkish color. They may use some food coloring to reach the bright pinky color.
Iced sakura latte
Chill the Sakura latte in the refrigerator and serve it over ice cubes for a refreshing and floral iced drink.
Matcha sakura latte
Instead of using tea or espresso, you can make a matcha-infused latte. It creates a beautiful pink and green layered sakura drink that is also caffeine-free.
Starbucks sakura latte copycat
Starbucks Japan’s Sakura Latte is a seasonal coffee-free latte that uses Sakura powder to flavor the steamed milk, is sweetened with a mix of white chocolate and strawberry sauce, and topped with whipped cream and a pink topping made from cherry blossom petals. To make a copycat version at home, froth the milk using a milk frother with Sakura powder. Add the sweetener of your choice and a drizzle of strawberry sauce before topping with whipped cream and strawberry chocolate shavings.
Substitutions for cherry blossom latte
Sakura season is very short, so instead of using fresh cherry blossoms, you can add Sakura syrup to your latte for a similar floral flavor. Add a few tablespoons of Sakura syrup to your milk before steaming or frothing.
Another alternative to fresh cherry blossoms is sakura cherry blossom powder or sakura paste, made from ground cherry blossom petals. You can dissolve a teaspoon of Sakura latte powder into your milk before steaming or frothing for a floral flavor.
If you don’t have Sakura syrup or powder, you can substitute it with other floral flavors, such as rose water or rose powder to make rose milk tea or lavender water to make lavender milk tea. Add a few drops before steaming or frothing.
Instead of regular dairy milk, you can use non-dairy milk such as almond, coconut, or soy milk to make a vegan-friendly version of the latte.
To make a sugar-free version of the latte, you can use a sugar-free sweetener such as stevia or monk fruit instead of regular sugar.
You can keep the leftover in an airtight container refrigerated. Use it within two days. Then, reheat it in a small saucepan.
Let the sakura latte cool to room temperature before pouring it into a freezer-friendly container. You can freeze it for up to 2 months in the freezer.