Can we tempt you with some vintage 2022 tea?

There are many mysteries that lay dormant in our seemingly mundane lives. Major discoveries and breakthroughs in understanding are just sitting there beneath the surface, waiting for someone daring enough to peel back the veil and find them.

Someone like our writer Seiji Nakazawa whose nagging curiosity got the better of him one day while he was out on the SoraNews24 office balcony. This luxurious corporate recreation space is a sprawling 3.5 square meters with a majestic view of the building next door and the finest in lawn furnishings and ashtrays.

Many a brilliant article has been conceived and even produced in this space and it is here the inspiration struck young Seiji right in between the eyes. Atop and air conditioner unit sat an opened plastic bottle of barley tea or “mugicha” in Japanese.

What was odd about this particular bottle of tea was that it had been sitting in the exact same spot for as long as he could remember. Seiji could tell by the layer of dust that had formed on it, that this bottle must have been there a very long time, so our reporter set out to find its origin and took statements from others in the office.

Ikuna Kamezawa: “I think it’s been there since last summer, hasn’t it? Oh, no, it’s not mine. There’s no way I’d ever put a drink down in such a dirty spot like that.”

Takashi Harada: “It seems like it’s been there since, like, last summer. It’s not mine.”

Mr. Sato: “Jeez, it’s been over a year, hasn’t it? No, it’s not mine. It looks like it’s about to explode.”

P.K. Sanjun: “It was definitely there a year ago, wasn’t it? It’s not mine… I think. Look, I don’t even buy my tea so I don’t know why you’re asking me all these questions.”

Much like in Rashomon, Seiji was met with differing testimonies but could ascertain that the bottle had been there since at least last summer. No one he spoke too claimed ownership of the bottle either, leaving SoraNews24 founder Yoshio as the only other person who regularly uses the balcony.

Fearing how high into the ranks of power this conspiracy might have infiltrated, Seiji decided to leave Yoshio alone like a bottle of tea on a balcony. Besides, this didn’t prove the bottle was Yoshio’s per se. It could just as easily have been some middle-aged guy in a tank top who walked out onto the balcony to cool himself with a paper fan, and just when he remarked “Sure is hot…” he spontaneously combusted and left his tea behind.

And did it really matter who left it there? The fact was that it was there, and knowing who put it there wasn’t going to change that fact. The real mystery of this tea was how it tasted after being exposed to the outdoor environment of downtown Tokyo for so long.

Tea is sturdier than other beverages like milk that spoil or cola that goes flat. However, Seiji’s only experience with old tea was the one time he left his thermos at elementary school over the weekend and drank the remainder before his mom could find it and get angry at him. The tea on our balcony, however, had been sitting out for at least nine months and in a flimsy plastic bottle rather than a sealed thermos.

Almost as if fate were speaking to him, the expiration date on the bottle read “April 2023” but it was a meaningless number anyway since the bottle had already been opened. Seiji twisted the cap and could hear the sigh of air or some other gas escaping like one might hear from a carbonated drink.

Following scientific protocol, Seiji first tried smelling it by wafting the fumes towards his nose to check for any noxious substances. Not noticing anything, he leaned in for a closer smell. It was still basically odorless, but he could faintly detect a slightly alcoholic scent like wine.

He moved the tea to a different container to see if the bottle was affecting the smell but it was unchanged in its new bowl.

Still unsure if it had gone rotten or not, Seiji decided to take the next step and taste it.

It surprisingly didn’t have any kind or sour or harsh taste at all. That being said, it also lacked the slightly bitter umami of fresh tea and was rather tasteless. It was more or less like drinking brown water.

But just to be sure, he tried some more…

And some more…

And before he knew it he had drunk the whole thing. Since it was basically like water he didn’t feel it was a big deal and even hours later his stomach seemed no worse for wear. Despite this, Seiji would like to advise everyone not to try this at home for the sake of your toilet bowls since not all tea and tea drinkers are made the same.

And so, the office balcony has once again helped spawn a SoraNews24 article which, much like a nine-month-old half-drunk bottle of tea, may taste kind of funny but probably won’t make you violently ill. 

Photos © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]