Starbucks matcha marches into the Via lineup with new, Japan-exclusive green tea drink mix

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

The powdered drink series isn’t just for coffee anymore.

While most people immediately think “coffee” when they hear “Starbucks,” the immensely popular chain of cafes also does a brisk business in teas at its Japanese locations. In 2001, the chain introduced the Matcha Cream Frappuccino, which predated the current matcha sweets boom by several years and paved the way for this year’s Chocolate Brownie Matcha, plus the matcha tea latte, which was added to the menu in 2006.

Now, Starbucks is bringing out the first Japan-exclusive item in its Via line of instant beverage mixes: Tea Essence Matcha.

▼ Tea Essence Matcha, hanging out with its coffee-based Via half-siblings

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The matcha Via contains the same domestically produced matcha tea powder as Starbucks uses for its barista-prepared beverages while offering the convenience and portability of Via’s powdered drink bases. Starbucks recommends mixing the contents of a pack with milk for a rich, relaxing cup of matcha latte.

Matcha Via goes on sale June 17 at Starbucks Japan branches and through the company’s online store, priced at 650 yen (US$5.90) for a pack of five.

Starbucks to release Almond Milk Latte and Frappuccino in Japan for a limited time

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RocketNews 24: 

For years, fans of Starbucks have been petitioning the coffee chain for a non-dairy alternative to soy. While the company recently responded by adding coconut milk options to their U.S. menus, lovers of almond milk were left out in the cold due to concerns over nut allergens.

Now, for a limited time, Starbucks Japan will be taking the bold step out into nut allergen territory with the release of the Almond Milk Frappuccino with Honey Crunch and the Almond Milk Latte with Honey Crunch. If you’re in Japan from 18 March to 14 April, you’ll be one of the lucky few to introduce your tastebuds to a sweet treat others can only dream of!

The Frappuccino features a good blend of honey and almond milk, topped with honey-flavored whipped cream and sweet honey syrup. Providing the crunch are tiny nuggets of candy-coated almonds. While the tall size will retail for 520 yen (US$4.30), short sizes can also be provided on request. Although for such a rare menu item, we’ll be eyeing up the Venti at 600 yen ($4.96).

The latte promises to showcase the deliciously nutty flavor of the milk by pairing it with a mellow espresso and a light hit of honey. If you love the aroma of almond milk, this will be the drink for you. Prices start at 420 yen ($3.47) for the short size.

These limited-edition drinks will be available from most outlets around Japan and may sell out during daily business hours, depending on demand. Be sure to get in early so you don’t miss out!

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3-D latte art at its best

RocketNews 24:

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We’ve already brought you the amazing latte art of Japanese barista Yuuichi Ito of Belcorno, an Italian restaurant in Aichi Prefecture, but we’ve never shown you just what he can do with a little extra foam. Mr. Ito could arguably be the greatest 3-D latte artist in all of Japan, if not the world. And we know you’re probably thinking that you’ve seen 3-D latte art before…But you’ve never seen it like this. With pages of photos depicting his creative coffees dating back to 2011, this is one barista who has undeniably attained the latte artist equivalent of knighthood. Take a look at his awesome 3-D creations.

Check out this link:

3-D latte art at its best

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▼ This one’s a little abstract, but that fluffy white and colored cloud is Santa.Belcorno 3D latte art7

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▼ Nausicaa of the Valley of WindBelcorno 3D latte art6

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And if you’ve already forgotten how great Mr. Ito’s 2-D latte art is, here are a few of his flat, but no less beautiful, colored coffee creations.

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▼ Just kidding, here’s an actual kitty cappuccino.latte art 5

Images: Facebook (Belcorno)