Aji WOW: lemon tea-flavoured water
Aji WOW is my series of unusual Japanese food/drink reviews. 'Aji' (味) means 'flavour', and the name's also a pun on 'ajiwau' (味わう) - 'to enjoy the taste of'.
This time: Suntory Tennensui Premium Morning Tea... which is lemon tea-flavoured water.
No, this is not a joke. I have photos.
Suntory is marketing this as 'transparent lemon tea' for the discerning grownup. And you can get 'transparent tea' - white tea is like that, if it's good stuff.
But this drink's being sold under their Tennnensui brand of mineral water. They also sell Tennnensui with grape, orange, and 'Yogurina' flavourings. Suntory's got history with water that tastes like other things.
Flavoured water is a pretty big thing in Japan, as you might surmise. Sometimes there's more of it than plain water on the convenience store shelf.
And if you're sceptical on that, I want to quote some lines from the Suntory press release about their market research:
"During product development, we worked to address dissatisfaction among customers who felt that the appearance of flavored water looks like juice and that the appearance was too childish to place on their desk, as well as customers who drifted away from lemon tea drinks as they grew to become adults because the flavor was too sweet."
Yes, folks, we take our liquids very seriously.
Most flavoured water here looks like... water. It's clear, and water-looking, and very obviously dihydrogen monoxide. I can't say I've ever picked up a bottle of something and not been sure if it's water or juice.
As for 'the appearance is too childish to place on their desk' - I have no idea. This is not my area. In my current office, there's free water, hot coffee, AND juice. Nobody really needs to bring bottles of water in. I sometimes get cold coffee or ice tea, but those are classy.
Also, on the 'too sweet' thing (fake sugar), this tastes exactly like other Japanese lemon tea brands. It's even made with Lipton tea. With your eyes shut, you probably couldn't say for sure one way or the other.
The 'deep, rich aroma' of tea translates into the taste. Let's be crystal mineral water clear on this point. There isn't a gap between the smell and the flavour.
But you know what? That isn't a complaint. I drink lemon tea a lot, willingly. This water tastes great. Except that's what it is. Water masquerading as 'transparent tea'. If I wanted something that 100% passes for lemon tea when I close my eyes, guess what I would've bought?
Verdict: 8/10 because it tastes like lemon tea and I love that stuff.