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Flavor of the Week

Cherry blossom, the flower that welcomes spring

The cherry blossom, or “sakura” in Japanese, is an iconic symbol of springtime in Japan, as well as in some cities in the American mid-Atlantic and Northeast, particularly Washington, D.C., which was gifted some 3,000 of them in 1912 by the mayor of Tokyo.

It’s used in several culinary applications in Japan, including tea and mochi, and is also brined or otherwise preserved and used in cocktails in the runup to the season. In recent years consumers in the United States are taking a liking to it as well.

From coffee drinks to cocktails, U.S. consumers no longer have to look as hard as they once did for this formerly elusive seasonal flavor, which can be described as slightly sweet with a tinge of bitterness, and a pronounced floral aroma.

Cherry blossoms are a great way for operators of all types to celebrate spring — the blossoms have a very limited blooming season — while also offering a way for customers to fulfill their craving for innovative global flavors.

Market research firm Datassential reports that cherry blossoms are found on 1.3% of U.S. menus, up 23% over the past four years.

Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using cherry blossom on its menu.

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