Cherry blossom season brings an assault of cherry-flavored foods and drinks—never mind that the flowering trees attracting tourists don’t produce the fruit you find on menus. Worse yet: restaurant and bar specials celebrating DC’s spring bloom with strawberry or Cherry Coke. Truly, it’s a pink nightmare.
Bon Matcha co-owner David Bae seems to be one of the few who gets this. His downtown sidewalk stand, specializing in Japanese green tea drinks, has come up with something much better: sakura soft-serve made with actual cherry blossoms. No cherries anywhere in sight.
“For me, there was a lot of personal pride that felt wounded,” says Bae. “Growing up in the DC-area, cherry blossoms are really what we’re all about. Cherries are not DC. Neither is cherry-flavored syrup. Neither is strawberry-flavored syrup. None of these things are Washington, DC.”
Plus, coming from a Korean family, Bae grew up with cherry blossom tea. “I kind of felt like both my heritages were being misrepresented, and because of that, I felt very passionate about giving sakura its justice,” he says.
Bon Matcha brews a tea using dried sakura petals from Korea, then turns that into a syrup used for the soft-serve. Bae says they spent many hours perfecting the recipe to get the right flavor and fragrance. The result is delicate and floral, and might remind you a bit of jasmine. It’s aptly subtle.
If you want, you can get the flavor swirled with Bon Matcha’s matcha soft-serve, but we highly recommend you go pure. The menu currently also includes a sakura milk tea and a crisp-tasting “sakura splash” with a cherry blossom cordial, housemade sakura tonic, citrus, and soda water.
The specials will be available as long as Bon Matcha can get supplies—likely no more than a month longer. Unlike cherry, this flavor is actually seasonal.
Bon Matcha. 1928 I St., NW.