Delicate, fragrant and floral Cherry Blossom Syrup (Sakura Syrup) made from real blossom flowers. This recipe is versatile, delicious and easy to make.
Every year, the short but sweet cherry blossom season captures our hearts all across the world. Whether you’re in Asia, America or Europe, we all get to enjoy its ephemeral beauty and magnificent scent.
As a lover of all things cherry blossoms, I wanted to try to make it last longer by preserving the amazing flavor and aroma. Cherry blossom syrup is a wonderful way of capturing the essence of these aromatic pink flowers. Made from fresh blossoms, this syrup is really unique and flavorful – perfect for all your springtime cravings!
Cherry blossom or Sakura Syrup is incredibly popular around Asian countries, especially in Japan. World renowned for its cherry blossom festivals, Japan cherishes these amazing flowers all year round by preserving it as syrup, powder, pickled or dried blossoms.
This syrup is incredibly versatile, as it can be used as sweetener for tea, lattes, matcha. The fun doesn’t stop there! Use it as topping for pancakes, waffles, ice cream and much more.
Although you can also find store-bought Sakura Syrup like this Monin cherry blossom syrup, they’re usually made with artificial flavorings. This homemade recipe is much more fragrant and flavorful, as well as 100% natural.
What are cherry blossoms?
Cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura in Japan, are the flowers of cherry blossom trees. These delicate flowers are famous for their pale pink color, but they can also come in white.
They have a light, delicate floral perfume and in full bloom only last for about 10 days or 2 weeks at most. This is why cherry blossom season is so cherished all around the world – because it’s the pure definition of fleeting beauty.
In Japanese culture, sakura is associated with the arrival of spring, new beginnings and good fortune. It’s also used as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of life, reminiscent of how short and sweet life is.
Sakura season is celebrated in Japan with the famous spring event O-Hanami from late March to early April. People from all over the world flock to Japan to see and smell these incredibly beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Nowadays, more and more Japanese sakura flavored snacks and drinks are becoming popular globally. Starbucks have their famous Sakura Latte or Sakura Frappuccino, but you can also find chocolates, cookies, mochi and more.
What does cherry blossom syrup taste like?
Sakura cherry blossom syrup is made from either fresh or preserved cherry blossoms. It has a sweet, floral and delicate flavour, that smells as good as it tastes. It’s a little similar to Rose Syrup, but much more delicate and with hints of honey.
Sakura Syrup has a mild and original taste, but still brings a wonderful floral aroma. It’s ideal to use in most drinks, because it will not overpower other flavors. Sweet and floral, this syrup is ideal to bring in the smell and taste of spring to your drinks or desserts!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Floral and aromatic: this Sakura Syrup is delicate and floral, so it adds depth and flavor to your dishes. It’s very subtle, yet smells incredible and tastes just as good!
- Tastes like spring: this Sakura Syrup perfectly captures the flavor and scent of cherry blossoms in a bottle. Every time you taste it, you will be reminded of the fresh and floral aroma of fully bloomed cherry blossoms!
- Preserve sakura for longer: Since cherry blossoms only last for a few days once bloomed, this syrup is a great way of holding on to the beautiful flavor for longer. So even after the cherry blossoms have disappeared, you can bring them back to your house with this syrup!
- Easy to make: This Cherry Blossom Recipe only uses 3 ingredients and takes just minutes to make. It’s so simple that anyone can make it.
- Versatile: This Sakura Syrup is not only delicious, but it can be used in countless ways. Use it in drinks, as topping for desserts and much more!
Uses & Ideas
This Sakura Syrup recipe is great because it has many different uses. Here’s how I like to use it to capture the essence of springtime:
- Tea – Add 1-2 teaspoons of Cherry Blossom Syrup into mild flavored teas to sweeten them and add a floral aroma. I recommend a pure Japanese Sakura Tea or Green Tea with Sakura.
- Lattes – Use it to make amazing lattes like Starbucks Sakura Latte or Sakura Matcha Latte. You can also use it in coffee or to make a floral Frappuccino. Add it to this delicious Strawberry Matcha Latte for an extra floral kick.
- Bubble Tea – a lot of springtime trendy bubble teas use sakura syrup as a flavor. Some popular combinations are Sakura Matcha or Sakura Strawberry Bubble Tea.
- Sparkling drink – Mix 2-3 teaspoons of Sakura Syrup with plain Soda or still water, alongside a few ice cubes.
- Cocktails – use it as a sweetener in any sweet and bright springtime cocktail. For a simple sakura gin & tonic, mix gin, lemon juice, club soda or tonic water and sakura syrup. You can also use it for martini drinks.
- Yogurt topping – drizzle some syrup on top of your favorite yogurt. Add in some fresh berries for more deliciousness.
- Dessert topping – drizzle sakura syrup on top of pancakes, waffles, French toast or your favorite cheesecake.
- Ice cream – make any ice cream gourmet with a drizzle of this Sakura Syrup on top. It works really well with Vanilla or Matcha ice cream.
This floral syrup recipe is great because it only uses 3 ingredients. Here’s what’s needed:
- Cherry blossom flowers – I like to use fresh cherry blossoms, but you can also use preserved salted sakura.
- Sugar – Plain white sugar is needed for this recipe. Brown sugar can also be used, but it will make the syrup less pink.
- Water – Regular water is needed, but I recommend using filtered or spring water if possible.
- Hibiscus, optional – 2-3 hibiscus petals are added to give the syrup a lovely pink color. You can also use a few dried raspberries instead.
Where to find Cherry Blossoms
There are multiple types of cherry blossoms you can use for this Cherry Blossom Syrup - fresh, pickled or salted. Here’s how to choose the best one and where to find it:
Fresh cherry blossoms
Fresh cherry blossoms can only be found in late March to early April across many countries. If you’re in Japan, you’re in luck because it is said that Sakura trees have the most fragrant flowers. However, you can find cherry blossoms all across the world.
How to identify cherry blossoms: they can be either pink or white in color and bloom between end of March and beginning of April. The flowers are very delicate, with soft petals. Most blossoms have 5 petals, but there are other types as well. You can check out this guide on Cherry Blossom Tree Identification.
Pickled in either plum vinegar or salt, preserved sakura is one of the most popular ways of enjoying cherry blossoms throughout the year. Pickled Sakura Cherry Blossoms are usually covered in salt and dried, making them safe to store for a year. To use this type of blossoms, make sure you soak them in water beforehand to remove any salt residue.
Although a great option to use if you don’t have fresh cherry blossoms, the syrup can still have a bit of a salty flavor. I will make a post soon on how to make salted sakura at home.
How to make Cherry Blossom Syrup
Before commencing the recipe, it's important to prepare the cherry blossom by cleaning and removing the stem. We only need the flowers, so it's best to remove as much of the green stem as possible.
Now we can begin preparing the Sakura Syrup. Here's how:
1. Thoroughly wash cherry blossoms. If using fresh blossoms, soak them in clean water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. If using preserved sakura, soak in clean water to remove excess salt.
2. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to boil.
3. Simmer for 5 minutes, then strain out cherry blossoms.
4. Return to heat, then cook until thickened into syrup.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Use freshly bloomed flowers – for the most intense flavor, I recommend using fresh cherry blossoms that have just bloomed. They look much more pink in color, and the petals are not fully open. These fresh flowers carry much more flavor and have a stronger fragrance.
- Don't simmer blossoms for too long – Cherry blossoms should only be simmered for a few minutes, just long enough to capture their flavor and aroma. If you simmer them for too long, the syrup can taste bitter.
- Optional ingredients for color – Cherry blossoms are a pale pink colour, so they don’t have strong pigment. Without any additional ingredients, the syrup will be yellow in color. For visual appeal, I recommend adding 2-3 hibiscus petals or a few dried raspberries. In such small quantities they won’t change the flavor, but add a lovely light pink color.
- Thickness of syrup – Depending on what you want to use the syrup for, you may need a different consistency. For drinks you will want a runnier syrup, but for drizzling on desserts you’ll need it a little thicker. For a thicker consistency, simmer for longer (5-10 minutes).
How to store
Cherry blossom syrup can be stored for up to 2-3 week in the fridge. After cooling it down completely, pour it into a sterile and dry airtight bottle or jar and refrigerate.
You can also freeze Sakura Syrup for longer storage. I recommend freezing it in ice cube shapes for single servings, then store in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
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Cherry Blossom Syrup Recipe (Sakura Syrup)
- 1 cup water
- 1-2 cups cherry blossom flowers*
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3-4 dried hibiscus petals*
If using fresh cherry blossoms
- Prepare the cherry blossom flowers by cutting off the stem close to the base.
- In a large bowl, add cold water and a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix well, then add in the flowers and dunk them in water a few times. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to remove insects or dirt.
- Discard dirty water and rinse flowers in clean water.
If using preserved or salted sakura
- Prepare the salted sakura flowers by soaking them in cold water for 20-30 minute to remove the salt.
- Rinse once more in clean water to remove all salt.
Preparing the Cherry Blossom Syrup
- In a medium saucepan, add the water, sugar, cherry blossom flowers and hibiscus petals (if using).
- Cook over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain all flowers and return syrup to saucepan. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes until syrup reaches the desired consistency.
- Cool down completely, then transfer into a clean and dry airtight jar or bottle.
- Fresh cherry blossoms can be replaced with 6-8 salted or preserved sakura flowers.
- Hibiscus petals can be replaced with 3-4 dried raspberries or 1 drop of pink food coloring.
- Nutritional value is estimative only and is calculated per serving. This recipe makes approximately 1.5 cups of syrup or 12 servings.