Thursday, January 17, 2013

What the after Christmas-season does to mark down prices in the US, the post-New Year's period does in Japan-- even in the grocery store, as AMANO and the other retailers do their best to rotate out old stock (1). This wouldn't exactly be worth mentioning except for the fact that on deep reduction this post-holiday season are some truly inspired bits of Zany Japanese foodstuffs:

Readers who recall my flirtation with Boss Coffee will not be surprised to learn that premixed black tea beverages (2)  are likewise a regular vending machine fixture in Japan-- Kirin's "午後の紅茶/gogo no kōcha/ 'Afternoon Tea'" brand being one of the most popular. Apparently ZA PANJENSHĪ (as the helpful katakana pronunciation guide instructs us to speak the name) contains twice the tea leaves of regular Afternoon brand-- and 100% more English-Induced Cool.  I was on the point of buying a can against my better judgment (3) when I found another winner only a little further down the aisle:

If one needed further proof of the weird Japanese love-hate relationship with coffee, this stuff would do a fine job. I'll let you know whether the taste lives up to its whopping 28 yen a bottle price tag later...

(1) In order to make room for piles of beans (and related beanlike snack-products) for the mid-winter demon-banishing luck festival  of setsubun, and for chocolates by the pallet for Valentines' Day, which as all good, lonely armchair Orientalists recall, has been reinvented by Japanese chocolate companies as a festival for women to give sweets to their bosses, coworkers, and (if they have any money left), their crushes. 

(2) Generically termed "ミルクティー/milk-tea". 

(3)   I'll never forget the flavor of regular Afternoon Tea, which tastes just like stale Luzianne mixed with a heaping spoonful of Coffee-Mate.

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