Its flavor came as a surprise…but we soon learned it was better than the alternative. 

Part of the fun of living in Japan is getting to try all the food with weird flavors. Peach-flavored potato chips, sour cream and onion Pringle-flavored yakisoba, and udon-flavored tortilla chips are just some of the unusual combinations we’ve seen over the years. And that’s not even touching on the weird drinks like Cup Noodle soda!

Today’s adventure in weird Japanese food products is a drink: Shizuoka Tea Cola, which our Japanese-language reporter Haruka Takagi found it for 250 yen (US$2.20) at a souvenir shop in Shizuoka Prefecture. It’s made by Kimura Drinks, the same company that made Unagi Soda with real eel extract. If you’ve tried that, you might understand the kind of trepidation Haruka experienced upon finding it.

But this time it was a soda made from green tea, which is a far more amenable flavor to soda than eel extract, in theory. Plus, it’s hard to make tea taste bad. It should be safe, right?

“Green tea (grown in Shizuoka)” was second on the ingredients list, so it had to taste reasonably like carbonated tea. That could either be really strange or really delicious, but probably not terrible.

It also seemed like it was filtered well, since there was no sediment on the bottom of the bottle, and for that Haruka was grateful. Since it’s soda, you can’t shake the bottle to mix it up, and nobody wants highly concentrated tea sludge at the bottom of their drink.

When she poured it into a glass, Haruka noticed that the carbonation seemed a bit weaker than most sodas. It also smelled more like a refreshing cider than a tea drink. Haruka tried as hard as she could to get a hint of the aroma of tea in this drink, but she couldn’t find any.

Puzzled, she took a sip…and found it to be a really light soda!

In a sense, it was kind of a betrayal. That beautiful, vibrant green color promised an equally vivid flavor, but instead, it tasted just as it smelled: like a refreshing, mild cider. It was also smooth, kind of like if you’d taken some of the carbonation out of the citrusy Japanese soda brand Mitsuya Cider.

The tea flavoring only came in as a very slight aftertaste. Rather than playing a major role in the flavor, it added a slight tartness to the drink. It was so subtle, Haruka almost didn’t notice it. While that kept it from being overly bitter or tangy, it did sort of depart from its original intent of being a tea-flavored soda.

However, while those who like really strong green tea flavors may find this product lacking, Shizuoka Tea Cola, with its refreshing flavor, seems like a drink that anyone would like. That, combined with its impactful color, makes this a great souvenir to bring back for friends and family after a trip to Shizuoka.

Still, Haruka wanted to see what real green tea soda would taste like, if only to see how Shizuoka Tea Cola would compare. She happened to have green tea and soda water at home, so she tried her hand at making her own.

First, she added the sugar to the tea and stirred it until it dissolved, and then she added the soda water.

She took a sip of her homemade green tea cola…

And it was absolutely disgusting!

It was super bitter, super tart, and super sweet. Haruka had given it all the effort and care she could, but it was still awful…shockingly awful, to be honest.

By contrast, the Shizuoka Tea Cola was delicious, and Haruka highly recommends getting it either for yourself or to take home as a souvenir if you find yourself south of Mt. Fuji.

Images © SoraNews24
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