Sunday, May 11, 2008

Iced tea

It's sufficiently warm enough here now that when I wake up in the morning, I want a cold beverage before I face the day. Juice and iced coffee, my go-to cold drinks when I lived in Vietnam, are now out of the question. Fruit is scandalously expensive here - and so is coffee.

No, the thing to drink when you're in Japan, obviously, is tea. If you go into any convenience store in Japan, you'll find cold drinks taking up 2/3 of the wall space - but don't be fooled. Instead of the cornucopia of cold drinks this implies, you'll find only one thing in the bottles - tea. Green tea, mostly, but some roasted tea, and some Chinese Oolong tea; some English-style "red" tea, some "red" tea with milk, and my current favourite, Jasmine tea. I'm hoping someone will introduce cold Indian Chai - that will be a dangerous day. There are whole ranges of fruit-infused teas from France, and there are also herbal teas and "health" teas made from various grains and beans, but for me, real tea has to actually involve a tea leaf. There are a couple of sad little rows of other beverages - one row of real coke, never any diet; some Fanta; some Mitsuya cider, a kind of melon-flavoured clear pop; and maybe, maybe, some Pepsi. There are a few fruit juices as well, but they're mostly sugar and water.

So I'm drinking iced tea from here on out. It's incredibly refreshing when it's humid, and since most teas on the market are calorie-free, it doesn't induce that much guilt. Except for the environmental impact of all those PET bottles. And the fact that flavoured water is going for 150 yen a bottle.

Whenever I have a crisis about saving money or the environment, I immediately go to Muji, because I know that they have the product that will help me feel better about myself. (How can you not love a company that improves your self esteem?) I use their shopping bag every time I go out, to reduce the plastic bag blight in my house (you can't use them as garbage bags here!) and I knew they'd have just the thing to solve my tea dilemma. I got on my bike and rode straight to their giant store in Fujisawa, and got myself their tea jug (small size). It's the best tea-related 800 yen I've ever spent. Now, every morning when I wake up, I have a cold, refreshing glass of tea waiting for me.

Next on my shopping list: the Muji thermal flask, for taking the tea to work.


Canadian Bento said...

Is it calorie free because its unsweetened? If not, what are they sweetening it with? I actually find original Lipton and Nestea to be too sweet for my likes, though ice tea is everywhere now (its very chic for spring), and many of the more subtle flavours are deliciousness. I like the splenda sweetened white raspberry lipton tea myself.

nakji said...

In the shops it's all unsweentened, except for "Royal Milk tea" which comes with sugar and milk. When I make it myself, I don't put any sugar in - I find that the really good green teas and jasmine tea taste nice without sugar. Plain English tea definitely needs sugar or honey.