Basil seed & tamarind drink

IMG_7288

Just the other week I found a chia seed drink, and this week I came across a basil seed drink. It does seem like drinks with seeds are all the latest rage here in China. I know many people cook with coriander seeds, but I had never actually tried basil seeds, not had I tried tamarind before.

I guess I’m still not quite sure what tamarind tastes like as the drink tasted quite generic. It was a little savory, and a little sour, but mostly tasted plain. The basil seeds made for a very interesting addition though. They looked like tad poles, and were soft on the outside yet hard on the inside. It was as if the outside layer of the seed had gotten softer from being in the drink. Interesting, yes, but I think I’ll stick to my regular fruit juices.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 6

Advertisements

Hawthorn Fanta

IMG_7273

I’ve written before about hawthorn, a berry-like fruit that grows around the globe, but is mostly popular in Asia. In China this sweet fruit is often turned into candy. Recently Fanta developed a hawthorn flavored drink for the Chinese market that I was dying to try.

The drink looked different from regular Fanta in that it was colored red. Of course it also tasted different, otherwise what’s the point. This Fanta was a little sweeter and not as sour as regular Fanta can be. In fact I found it a bit sickly sweet, not sugary though, just naturally sweet. I’m not quite sure what would compare well. Perhaps if it was possible to juice a date you would come close. It wasn’t exactly bad tasting, I just didn’t enjoy it much either.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Rose and grape juice

IMG_7255

We might not be all that accustomed to consuming rose petals in our daily western lives, but here in the region in China where I live it’s big business. I’ve tried it in ice-cream and cakes, and most recently mixed in with grape juice.

Rose has a flavor that many people would say tastes like perfume. Makes sense as smell is such an important factor for enjoying food. Those who don’t enjoy having a swig of the perfume bottle need not worry, this bottle of juice lacked just that flavor. You could taste rose, but only very mildly. Did that make it any better? Not really. I’d rather have something with a strong flavor that you might not like than something with no flavor at all. There were also some annoying bits of jelly in the drink that I never really enjoy.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Strawberry Chia Seed Drink

IMG_7155

These last few years there has been an uprising in seeds and grains such flax seeds, quinoa and chia seeds. With increasing numbers of vegans and people on a gluten free diet, sales of these alternative sources of nutrition have sky rocketed. Although I’m not vegan – otherwise I couldn’t write so much about meat and fish – I do like to eat healthy and only eat meat once or twice a week. I’ve even started making my own muesli, adding flax seeds and goji berries into the mix and eating it with lots of tropical fruits.

Chia seeds however is something I have yet to eat. It’s simply not readily available here in China. I did, recently come across and bottle of strawberry juice with chia seeds and had my first taste of this superfood. I have to say, the drink didn’t look very appealing. Frog spawn was something that entered my mind.

Taste wise, I don’t think the seeds added anything as all I could taste was strawberry, and fresh strawberry at that. Like so many other items on my blog, it was more about texture. The seeds had kind of softened a bit from the juice, and were easy enough to drink. There was no need to chew on them. It reminded me of the bubble teas that are so popular here in China.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Salted cheese lemon tea

IMG_7098

I like cheese. I like lemon tea. A combination of the two? That sounded a bit wild to me. There are many iced tea shops and bubble tea shops around here hailing from Taiwan and Hong Kong. The newest craze is iced lemon tea topped with a layer of salty cheese. I had imagined some parmesan crusted monstrosity of a drink, but it turned out it was more like a frothy creamed cheese.

If you spooned some of the top layer off and had it on its own, it was a little like eating meringue. It was thicker than whipped cream, and would hold it’s shape. It didn’t taste like cheese either, and it wasn’t all that salty. When drank along with the iced tea, it gave the tea a creamy texture and taste as you would when adding milk to it. In essence you had a cup of milk tea presented in the form of a cappuccino.

Fear Factor – 2 / Taste Test – 9

Blue Pepsi

IMG_7092

Just to be perfectly clear: I’m a Coke guy all the way. I generally dislike Pepsi because I find it way too sweet. I don’t mind Pepsi Max as much, but regular Pepsi….pass. However, Pepsi recently released Pepsi Blue on the Chinese market. Pepsi Blue had been on sale in countries around the world years ago, but has been since shut down. A blue colored cola is unusual to say the least.

I was half expecting it to taste sugary, fruity or chemically, but I found the taste to be quite flat. For a second I thought I picked up a hint of sour candy, but that quickly went away. Perhaps that was just my mind playing tricks on me. In the end, it was a perfectly normal Pepsi. One that I won’t be drinking again soon. I’ll stick to Coke for now. It was cool to see my spit turn blue though. That brought back the inner child in me.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test 6

Green tea cocktail

IMG_7111

At Cobra Lily in Shanghai, where I had the Chinese cheese starter, I also went for a slightly unusual cocktail. It was happy hour after all. This cocktail was a Japanese inspired affair with green tea syrup, midori – a Japanese melon liquor, and lots of gin. The cocktail was beautifully presented in an ice-cold cup along with a traditional bamboo green tea whisk.

The drink was covered by a thick layer of beaten egg white, very much like an Italian meringue. When eaten on its own it was just like eating meringue, but when mixed in with the rest it simply gave the drink a creamy texture. The taste wasn’t actually overly bitter from the green tea, neither did I taste much melon. It could really have been any gin based drink in there. I did love the presentation though.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test 8

Salty licorice liquor

IMG_6834

On my trip to Europe this year I bought a couple of licorice products. The last one I tried was a Finnish bottle of salty licorice liquor. I feel a tongue twister coming up there. In Holland we also have a licorice liquor which is quite sweet, but this one is of the salty variety.

If you’ve never had salty licorice, it’s hard to describe. To many the flavor is very medicinal. That’s because of the licorice root. The salty part comes from a special salt called salmiak, which gives it a kind of spicy kick to it as well. As a kid we would eat the salmiak powder as a treat, and this drink reminded me of just that.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 8

Blue sparkling wine

IMG_6735

I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, but it’s nice to have a glass of wine during a special dinner, such as the barbecue I shared with my parents when I visited them from China. I generally prefer white wines to red, but how would you classify a blue wine?

At the supermarket I found these bottles of blue sparkling wine that appeared to be white wine with added food coloring. I bought it as a gimmick, and I didn’t expect the taste to be amazing. It wasn’t. Then again it wasn’t horrible either. Let’s just say it was palatable. The wine was a little dry and a little acidic. I managed to drink most of the bottle, so it can’t have been all that bad.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 6

Kefir

IMG_6569

I’d heard of kefir before as being a sour tasting fermented milk, though I never had a chance to try it. Recently I travelled to Poland where I stayed with one of my friends who lives in Warsaw. She had bought a bottle of it for me to try. Whether or not she had seen my blog, I never asked.

Kefir is indeed a fermented milk, made with so-called kefir grains, a kind of yeast. To me kefir seems more like yogurt than milk. It’s as thick as yogurt, and tastes sour. Interestingly it gives a slight tingling sensation on your tongue when you drink it. It doesn’t taste off though, which is what I was expecting. On opening it looked curdled, but after shaking it turned into an almost smooth mixture. It was just a little too sour for me. Perhaps with some sugar I would be more inclined to finish it.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 6