Fooducate blog reader and tea lover Julia recently received a sample pack of a new Japanese tea brand called Sokenbicha (“SO-can-BEE-cha”). It comes in 5 flavors (based on a holistic 5 elements theory – earth,wind, wood, water, and metal):
- Revive, a crisp Oolong tea blend infused with pomegranate and raspberry notes, black tea and rose hips
- Defend, a mild Oolong tea blend with guava leaves and ginseng
- Purify, an aromatic green tea blend with chamomile and aloe
- Shape, a bold barley tea blend with peach flower notes, pu’er and green teas
- Skin, a full-bodied barley tea blend with cinnamon and ginger
OK, so that was the marketing lingo. Below is Julia’s assessment:
- Shape flavor is smells good, but when I drink it I don’t think it has that much flavor except for a plastic-y aftertaste. I’m surprised this is on the “full bodied” end of the scale. It is very mild overall.
- Purify flavor tastes a lot more like tea to me. I’m surprised because it’s not supposed to be as “full-bodied” as Shape. I really like how it smells.
- Skin tasted really good. I really liked the cinnamon flavor, and the ginger, too.
- Defend is the one I like the most so far. It has a milder flavor than “Skin” but still has the strong tea taste that I really like.
- Revive was my favorite flavor of all the teas. I like oolong and rosehip tea quite a bit, and this combined them well. It was very aromatic and had a good balance of the tea taste with unique flavor.
Let’s see how these teas fare nutritionally…
What you need to know:
Tea is great when consumed without added sugars. Brewing it at home is the cheapest way to enjoy tea, but for many people buying bottled tea is the more convenient solution. Unfortunately, many bottled teas are full of sugars and colorings.
The Sokenbicha line is unsweetened. It has zero calories and nothing artificial. Not bad considering the parent company is Coca Cola…
Here is the ingredient list for the Revive flavor:
Water, Brewed Tea and Botanical Extracts (Oolong Tea Leaves, Black Tea Leaves, Rose Petals, Rose Hips, and Ginseng), Natural Flavors, Citric Acid.
Water – check!
Tea and extracts – check!
No sugar – check!!!
But why the added “natural flavors”? Why the added Citric Acid?
These 2 ingredients would not be used in a home brew, after all.
Natural flavors added to the mix means that the great taste Julia was enjoying does not come completely from the tea and extracts but from some additional flavorings that are a Sokenbicha trade secret. But why, if the listed ingredients are of high quality as boasted in the marketing information, would natural flavoring need to be added?
Citric acid is a natural preservative that adds an acidic, or sour, taste to beverages. It is found naturally in citrus fruits. Why is it used in a tea? Most likely to increase shelf life.
OK – so a home brew might be the best, but if you’re going to choose bottled teas, Sokenbicha seems to be a good choice. No calories, no artificial sweeteners, five flavors to choose from, and a very good story.
What to do at the supermarket:
If you want to save money, buy tea leaves or bags for brewing. But if you like the convenience of bottled tea, choose a non-sweetened version. You’ll get used to the taste after a few bottles.
Disclosure: Ah, the perks of food blogging… Sokenbicha contacted us and offered to send us samples. We had them sent to a volunteer tester. We did not pay for the samples. We were not paid to post this blog nor were we instructed in any which way regarding its content. In fact, we forewarned the manufacturer that we are skeptical and scathing of most products sent our way.