Saturday, January 06, 2007

Green Tea Abominations

About 3 years ago I made the switch from coffee to green tea. Since then, it seems everywhere I turn I see another news story touting the health benefits of green tea, and how it does everything, from shedding fat and boosting brain power to fighting every cancer known to man. There's no doubt that green tea is the best thing EVER and I am a true believer, but lately I've noticed a lot of strange products that probably should have never made it out of the test kitchens. I'm sure the marketing heads at every giant food processing conglomerate have been working overtime, trying to leverage this green tea "fad" in any way they can. The following is just a short list of their unholy concoctions; all are generally pretty bad (tasting) and have little to offer in the way of green tea's proven health benefits. Still, that doesn't stop them from trying, so here I offer just a few examples of what I call "Green Tea Abominations"...

Green tea lovers beware...First up, Lipton's bottled Green Tea (with citrus!). I actually brought this home from work, I didn't pay money for it. I think the person in charge of keeping us stocked with water and soft drinks thought I'd really enjoy this, knowing I'm such a green tea fanatic. Going into my taste test, expectations weren't terribly high, so I wasn't at all disappointed to find it doesn't taste like green tea so much as yellow sugar-water. Still, that doesn't keep my co-workers from drinking it by the case load. One might forgive their ignorance if it weren't for the fact that they are exposed to the real thing on a daily basis. Listen up, people - if you're looking for real GREEN TEA flavor and the full spectrum of it's health benefits, this is definitely NOT the shizznit. Moving on...

This is Matcha??Next, the Green Tea Frappacino at Starbucks. I happened to sample this at the Starbucks kiosk at my local grocery store. A little barista approached me with samples and I was both suspicious and intrigued by its distinctive bright green color. Once she assured me it was made with real matcha, I decided I could bypass the blob of whipped cream on top and gave it a try. If she had not been so young and earnest, I would have spit it out right there on the spot! Yes, there's the definite flavor of matcha, but it's so covered over by massive loads sugar, cream and god knows what else I could barely make myself swallow it. It has the kind of sweetness that can give you an instant headache, not to mention a weight problem. A 16oz, grande-sized serving of this stuff carries a whopping 500 calories, 16g of fat and an astounding 74g of carbohydrates - making it a huge hit in America. In my opinion there's nothing about this drink to recommend it, other than possibly making matcha a household word, at least among Starbucks aficionados. Pass this one by and oh yeah, get the hell out of Starbucks!

Hazardous MaterialThis next item is so bad, I don't even think they make it anymore. I was standing in line at the grocery when I happened to spy this Green Tea Formula Gum - Nature's Antioxidant! The box brags that one piece is equivalent to 2 cups of green tea. "I'll be the judge of that!" I said to myself, knowing before I even opened it that the taste would probably not thrill me. However, nothing could have prepared me for a taste so foul, so unbelievably bad that after 5 chews I was headed toward the trash can. I couldn't get it out of my mouth fast enough and almost threw up. What was the flavor? Faintly reminiscent of Pine Sol? Industrial waste? Nicotine gum tastes better than this! Nothing about it even hints at green tea - it's a complete waste of effort. If you ever encounter this gum, keep at least 10 feet between you and this egregious green tea impostor. It's that bad.

You have been warned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, you're right. Some things should never be made. I also have a blog about Japan, too.

January 26, 2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Toria said...

Hehehe I'm so glad Im not the only person that has noticed this. Here in the UK Twinnings a major tea company has brought out a whole range of 'green-tea variants' admittedly they are vaugely more in keeping, like greentea and cranberry and such, kind of down the herbal tea line, rather than sugar packed ickyness, but I cxan't help wondering (being an Chinese Medicine student and all) whether they have even vaugely considered the enerjetics of the foods/plants they are combining in these products they push as healthy.

(Yes I have decided I like your blog and am insanely bored and so reading through your archive while avoding wrting my own!)

May 18, 2007 3:48 PM  
Blogger rn.elizabeth said...

I found you while doing a search for Japanese style on God-ogle, liked your post on the most arrogant company by the way. But this one made me laugh. When my friends come over to study I serve them a fru-fru green tea- something like , mango white asian, blah, blah, but by the end of the semester I've got them hooks on jasmine pearls. At least it tastes like green tea!

Gotta tell ya, I never aquired a taste for matcha though. Keep them coming.


May 21, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger gnomead said...

You have to be exaggerating, nothing tastes as bad as nicotine gum!

May 22, 2007 6:22 PM  
Blogger Japan-O-Matic! said...

I can't believe it - look at all these readers!! Thank you all for commenting on my humble blog.

Akoua Doffou you have a pretty amazing blog for one so young - gambatte!

I get a lot of flack from my dad, who teases me about drinking "pond water" but even pond water's got to be better for you than all that high-fructose corn syrup and what-not...

And BTW, I've actually had MORE than one piece of nicotine gum, which is more than I can say about that horrid "green tea" gum-shite.

Matcha is probably an aquired taste and it's especially difficult taken out of context of the tea ceremony. At least there you have a small sweet before receiving the tea, so it offsets the extreme flavor and bitterness. I don't even notice bitterness anymore, unless it's just bad tea. I've grown to LOVE matcha! In Japan it's used like we use cocoa powder, in sweets, munchies and all kinds of dishes. I've been trying to convince my sister to add a matcha-fondant truffle to her product line up, but she's mainly geared toward chocolate - *European* chocolate! *sniff!*

If you're ever in the Boulder area, look up Marcel's Chocolate Room!

May 22, 2007 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Rana said...

Add another- Zen Green Tea liqeuer. Everyone tells me, "I really love the green tea taste in it! It's made from real matcha!" Okay. I've had matcha in Japan- from monks in Nara, no less!

The stuff is nothing like matcha. What these people are tasting (aside from alcohol) is the fruity additives like lemongrass. I'm waiting for the stuff (like absinthe, without the wonderful side effects) to be touted as a health drink.

July 02, 2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger Japan-O-Matic! said...

Ewww...I haven't heard of that until now but I guess it was inevitable... Green tea and alcohol? That really does sound perverse!

July 02, 2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger Happy said...

I really love green tea and I have some green tea information here, it's really good for our health, but it's tea!!! A beverage that should be prepared in a teapot, it should be hot and you drink it from a tea cup! But not chewing a green tea gum! That's really overdose!

January 23, 2008 6:32 PM  
Blogger Dr.Gray said...

I have to say I really like green tea as a flavor, and I like to see it hitting more mainstream. Good old slow to change america. But I must agree these mass manufactured junk just give the flavor and the tea a bad name.

June 01, 2008 3:23 AM  

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