Late last year, Japan went crazy over a bottle of milk tea. The catch is, it is not just any normal bottle of milk tea, but the liquid is completely TRANSPARENT. Japan recently had this craze over flavoured water, where the humble bottle of mineral water is jazzed up with all sorts of flavours, from fruit-flavoured ones like peach and lemon, to more bizarre options like Calpis and milk tea. Even Youtubers Simon and Martina made a video trying many different flavours of flavoured water and trying to guess the flavours, with strong reactions of disgust and dislike.
Flavoured water is not unfamiliar in Singapore either, as I’m sure most Singaporeans would know the long existence of our beloved Pink Dolphin, which is basically a clear, peach-flavoured drink that contains different types of of vitamins and minerals. I remember drinking it often when I was in primary school during school excursions or family outings, and feeling less guilty because visually, it looked like I was drinking plain water. The brand has since expanded to include more flavours, and a brand new packaging.
Japan’s obsession with flavoured water slowly crept its way into Singapore’s shores, and supermarkets and convenience stores are stocking up on Japanese flavoured water. So when I came across the Suntory Premium Morning Tea at the nearby 7-Eleven, I was intrigued.
A bottle of Suntory Premium Morning Tea costs SGD2.60 at 7-Eleven. To put things in perspective, a bottle of Pokka Green Tea costs $2.40, and a bottle of Pokka Premium Milk Tea costs $2.70. For flavoured water, it is kinda expensive. I could have had a decent bottle of sweetened green tea for less, and a bottle of actual milk tea for just ten cents more. Price-wise, there really isn’t any incentive for anyone to get it in the first place.
Therefore, I decided to set up a poll on Instagram Stories to get my friends to decide for me, and the people have spoken (at least those who decided to respond to my poll):
[Point to note: Before the poll ended, the margin widened to 58% (Yes) to 42% (No).]
It was seriously a close fight, with difference in votes to be less than ten. However, majority wins and I went with the majority. I went to another 7-Eleven, and I saw that not only did they have the milk tea, but also the lemon tea. Great. Curiosity got the better of me and I got both. I don’t know whether to feel stupid or feel proud for myself.
On the packaging, it says Premium Morning Tea. What an interesting name, I thought. I guess Japanese people only drink tea in the morning? How is it premium tea if it’s flavoured water? It also wrote “Suntory 天然水” (Natural water), along with “透明なミルクティー！！” (Transparent milk tea!). Super confusing. So is this water-flavoured milk tea, or milk tea-flavoured water? I guess if they just market it as the latter, it’ll probably be less intriguing and people will want to shun it more. Labelling it “Transparent milk tea” will probably attract a lot of attention from curious customers, me included.
Also, it also stated that Assam tea leaves were used in making this drink.
The science behind making these drinks is actually pretty interesting, and you just read here to know more if you’re curious. Knowing how it is made, we can be assured that the ingredients come from natural sources, not containing artificial flavours (I wonder what’s in the “frangrance” though LOL)
Alright, here comes the big reveal, itadakimasu! *Drum rolls*
From its smell, my first impression was that it was similar to Japanese royal milk tea (the instant ones or those that are packaged in bottles and cans), except that it was much sweeter. Upon the first taste, it was just like how it smelled. The first taste that hit me was a very familiar taste of royal milk tea, except that it had a lot of sugar piling on top of it. I feel that for flavoured water, Suntory has done quite a good job of trying to make it taste like milk tea. I find the taste and fragrance pretty accurate (at least to the instant and packaged versions). However, compared to the actual milk tea, it lacks the milky richness that I like in milk teas. Also, the taste doesn’t linger for very long, giving the impression of blandness, which is expected from flavoured water anyway. Overall, it tastes like very fragrant, sweet milk tea, but the taste disappears quickly. I don’t think it is very diluted, nor do I feel that the flavours are intense enough, I just think that the taste doesn’t linger.
Also, I tried drinking it two ways- the first time with my eyes not looking at the bottle and the second time looking, and the results are also very different. The first time, it really tasted like very sweet milk tea, but the moment I looked at it and think of it as water, I could immediately feel a sense of displeasure. The psychology aspect in drinking this is really immense.
Overall, I find that this drink is pretty interesting, as who would have thought of creating milk tea that looks like plain water? Fruit-flavoured water still seems feasible, but milk tea? However, I don’t think anyone in the right mind would want to pick this up if they feel like drinking a bottle of milk tea. There are already so many good options that are actually milk tea, why choose this?
I would say, if you feel like drinking milk tea, please don’t be a cheapo and choose this, pick up the Pokka Premium Milk Tea for just ten cents more. If you wanna drink more water but dislike plain water or find plain water boring, then by all means choose this, though I honestly would rather drink plain water. Also, I wouldn’t think of smuggling this into lecture halls or concert halls either, as everyone would have probably figured out by then. A part of me feels like trolling everyone by filling up the bottle with plain water muahahahaha.
Should you try this? Yes. Would I get this again? No. Am I glad I tried it? Yes.
To be fair, I rated it both as flavoured water (since it is flavoured water), and as milk tea (since they marketed it as transparent milk tea).
As flavoured water- 8/10 (good attempt at trying to be milk tea, although some things are still lacking)
As milk tea- 2/10 (it’s a terrible bottle of milk tea)
Try it, just once, you will not regret it. You may have a different opinion from mine, and I would love to hear it.
Till next time, take care everyone.