Brand: Italian Wisteria Garden
Cost: 130 yen
Found At: Acrue Vending Machine – Kamakura
I like that Japan has a myriad of options for non-sweet beverages. There are teas and sparkling waters and barley drinks galore available wherever you can get sodas and flavored waters. I’ve heard this cited as a reason why the obesity rate in Japan is so low, and while I am skeptical of this claim, I have to admit that the profusion of non-soda soft drinks suits me quite well. I’m generally not a huge fan of sweet drinks and I am also too forgetful to reliably bring proper hydration along on a hot day – but I can never justify buying a bottle of just plain water that I can get at home for free. I really prefer to have some sort of flavoring in my drinks, just not super sweet ones that leave my mouth feeling like a shag carpet. And so, I’ve been very happily touring the leaf and stick-based beverages of every convenience store I pass by.
But even in this world of unsweetened beverages there are some fringe elements. I will admit that I was nervous about the black bean tea. Despite its 15 mg of isoflavone, I was not sure that it could be trusted. But I was equally sure that it would not contain any added sugar – who in their right mind would add sugar to black beans after all – so, I decided to put my prejudice aside and give it a try. And sure enough, it was cool and refreshing and thankfully unsweetened. It may have tasted like a watered-down version of refried beans but the day was so hot and I was so thirsty that I hardly even noticed. Besides, I like refried beans! And I can even take some comfort in knowing that, with those 15mg of isoflavone, I have infinitesimally lowered my chances of postmenopausal cancer, osteoporosis, and hot flashes.