Cost: 160 yen
Found at: Acrue Vending Machine at Tokyo Station
I know that I’ve talked at length about apple juice that tastes like apples. There is nothing more that can be said about apple juice that tastes like apples. So, for variety, here is an apple juice that tastes like apples – but not the right apples.
When I was a little girl in Washington, the apple capital of the US, my mother gave me some advice about apple pressing. (In my imagination we are way out in the countryside and she is wearing a dirndl. In reality we were in someone’s suburban backyard and she was wearing a fleece, but the story tells better the first way around.) Her advice was to always put a few Granny Smith apples into the batch to give the sweet apple cider a more robust flavor. It adds just a hint of tartness to make the cider that much more refreshing on a cool autumn day. The same is true for apple pies, apple sauces, and apple chutneys – a little granny smith goes a long way when cooking and preserving apples. It brings back that tartness that otherwise gets lost in the process.
So, I was hopeful when I saw this apple cider bottle with its bold, green, Granny Smith apple glittering in Tokyo station. I wanted something that was not too sweet, but a little more interesting than water. But from the first sip it was clear that something was amiss. It was not tart or fresh or sour but was simply the same apple juice that I had tried before. It was delicious – and was made from real apples – but there’s nothing like a snobby Washington palate to ferret out a red apple cider. I could see my dear mother, in her imaginary German garb, shaking her head in dismay. I had let marketing get the better of me. I had been tricked into buying a sweet refreshing beverage.