Sure, it looks like ordinary tea, but the taste is…well, something else entirely.

With the days quickly becoming shorter and colder in Japan, we’ve been on the lookout for new and exciting products to warm our bodies and souls. For our Japanese-language reporter Maro, nothing warms the cockles quite like a good cup of tea, so when she came across something called “ramen tea” at a local branch of the popular retail chain Plaza, she immediately added it to her basket.

▼ This “Spicy Ramen Tea” hails from Korea.

Maro is a big fan of tea, ramen and spicy flavours, so the unusual combination in this box sounded like it could be a winning trifecta. With each box priced at 529 yen for five teabags, one cup of ramen tea works out to be around 105 yen each, which is more than you’d pay for a regular cup of tea, so Maro had high hopes that this would be a deliciously indulgent experience.

As soon as she tore one of the bags open, she was met with the scent of exotic spices that weren’t immediately familiar to her ramen-loving palate. Rather than remind her of a salty soy broth or rich tonkotsu noodles, she felt this might be more like Mokotanmen (Mongolian Tanmen) or dandan noodles, where the focus is placed on chilli and spice.

Taking a look at the back of the pack, she was happy to find there was no cooking involved here — all she had to do was pop the teabag into a cup, pour boiling hot water over it, let it steep for a minute and then remove the teabag.

▼ As simple as making a cup of tea.

As she waited for the teabag to steep, Maro was surprised by the look of the liquid in her cup, as it looked exactly like a cup of ordinary tea! The only thing giving the game away was the scent of spices, which filled the room and made Maro wonder what she was about to drink.

At this point, she couldn’t wait any longer to try it, so with the teabag still in she raised the cup to her lips and took a taste. As soon as she did that, she realised this was definitely not tea. In fact, it wasn’t like any other tea she’d ever tasted, and it didn’t taste like Japanese ramen broth either…

The first thing that swamped her taste buds was spice, and it didn’t make its presence felt in gentle waves. It was more like a deluge of rich spiciness, heating the back of her throat as it went down, but at the same time it wasn’t unpleasant, just…totally unexpected.

▼ And maybe not the best partner for chocolate and biscuits.

It was a flavour she wouldn’t immediately identify as ramen, because she felt that if she were to add noodles to it, the combination wouldn’t meld harmoniously. The taste was more like an instant soup, designed to be enjoyed on its own, although the texture of the liquid made it seem more like tea.

It was a confusing combination, and a world away from Japanese ramen, but still, there was something undeniably delectable about this spicy ramen tea. On its own, the tea was good, but Maro felt like it would taste even better when paired with rice balls or bento boxes at lunch time.

In the end, the Spicy Ramen Tea delivered in the spice department, surprised us in the ramen department, and ultimately made us rethink the way we drink tea. With teas like this on the market, alongside Ippudo’s new tonkotsu ramen broth in a can and drinkable canned curry, this is shaping up to be the season for drinking our favourite foods instead of eating them!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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