We sampled all 11 flavors of milk tea by the popular brand so that you’ll know exactly which one to grab next for your perfect cuppa.

Gogo no Kocha (“Afternoon Black Tea”) by beverage giant Kirin is one of the most popular and recognizable brands of bottled tea on the Japanese market. You’d be hard-pressed to walk into any convenience store without seeing at least one of its offerings. In particular, Gogo no Kocha’s line of hot and cold milk teas are quite famous, being the go-to drink of choice for many Japanese people throughout the year.

Our Japanese-language reporter Natsuki Gojo recently set out to sample all 11 varieties of Gogo no Kocha’s milk teas that were available for purchase as of the end of January. Up until now, she’d always grabbed a random bottle on a whim, but this assignment has taught her how to be much more strategic about her selection. Here’s one big secret–did you know that the tea leaves used in the various milk teas actually differ and make use of different flavor extraction methods?

Let’s break down the different products by the leaves.

Kandy tea leaves (from Kandy, Sri Lanka, tea made from these leaves is light and has a low astringency) are used in:

● Milk Tea (Cold)
When you think “Gogo no Kocha milk tea,” this classic flavor is most likely the one that springs to your taste buds. This standard offering is made using 20 percent Kandy tea leaves and the finished product is intended to give balance to both the aromatic black tea and milk so that you can enjoy both equally.

● Milk Tea (Hot)
The hot version of the milk tea is offered only in the wintertime through March (note the orange bottlecap, which signifies “hot”). It also uses 20 percent Kandy tea leaves and is meant to taste very similar to the cold version above–just in warm form.

● Tea Selection Creamy Tea Latte (Hot and Cold)
These offerings also use 20 percent Kandy tea leaves, but this time combined with fresh cream for an especially rich and creamy taste. Apricot and peach notes add a floral hint perfect for cold winter days. They’re available annually in stores until the end of March.

Uva tea leaves (known for their fruitiness and astringency, this variety of tea leaf from Sri Lanka is lauded as being extremely compatible for use in milk teas) are used in:

● Milk Tea Plus (Cold)
This drink is a solid, basic, and mild milk tea. With the addition of over 100 billion Plasma lactic-acid healthy bacteria, it’s a good option for those people who want to enjoy the taste of milk tea alongside a healthy boost for their gut.

● Espresso Tea Low Sugar (Hot)
Using 80 percent Uva tea leaves, the resulting flavor is thanks to the espresso extraction method. Its taste features sweetness followed by some bitterness. Out of all of the Gogo no Kocha teas that Natsuki sampled, this one definitely packed the most prominent sensation of astringency in her opinion.

● Caramel Tea Latte (Hot and Cold)
The sweet caramel flavor is the major force in this drink, and Natsuki almost couldn’t taste any of the astringency of the Uva tea leaves at all. It would make a great dessert in and of itself, so make sure you try it before March when it will disappear from shelves.

Dimbula tea leaves (which produce a mild-tasting tea, with the leaves, harvested in January and February in Sri Lanka, having an aroma reminiscent of roses and a strong astringency) are used in:

● Hojun Royal Milk Tea (Hot and Cold)
This full-bodied tea uses 10 percent of the highest-quality Dimbula tea leaves for a particularly rich taste. You can only find it in vending machines, so don’t waste time looking in your local convenience store–instead, scour the machines on the street.

● Tea Selection Chocolate Tea Latte (Hot and Cold)
This is a brand-new product that only just went on the market on January 30. Natsuki was so surprised by its rich chocolate taste that she thought she was mistakenly drinking hot chocolate for a moment. It makes use of cocoa powder sourced from 100 percent Ghana cacao beans and fresh cream for that luxuriously chocolatey flavor.

Finally, a handful of Gogo no Kocha Milk Teasmilk teas make use of a blend of different leaves depending on the targeted flavor.

● Oishii Sugarless Milk Tea (Cold)
This drink is the only one in the Gogo no Kocha series to be unsweetened. Made from a blend of Darjeeling and Uva tea leaves, it boasts a refreshing flavor.

● Espresso Tea Latte (Hot and Cold)
This beverage is a blend of tea leaves produced using the espresso extraction method. It’s a rich tea latte with a strong essence of black tea.

● Tea Selection The Milk Tea English Blend (Cold)
A blend featuring 51 percent Uva tea leaves and 47 percent Assam tea leaves, it also uses 1.5 times the standard amount of tea leaves as other milk teas, resulting in a rich and not overly sweet taste beloved by many. It’s only available until around February or March.

With this guide, Natsuki hopes that you’ll be able to identify the perfect variety of milk tea to suit your mood moving forward. Of course, if you don’t feel like going out at all in the cold of winter, perhaps investing in this Milk Tea Maker is the best option.

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]