Sometimes having truly selfless and devoted research staff is a great thing. The Kibbitzer-in-Chief, one of the lead members of the Lab here at Weird Soda Review, doesn't actually like soda. At all. And yet, yesterday, after spending hours in non-Lab related activities, she was selfless and thoughtful enough to bring home a Weird Soda. A treasure indeed.
What she brought was a Jarritos Tamarindo. Jarritos is a Mexican soda brandwhich is fairly common here, but probably less so elsewhere. It comes in a variety of fruit flavors--I've sampled their strawberry before, and found it quite acceptable--but this was one I hadn't had before. Tamarind is a popular flavoring in a lot of Mexican drinks (aguas frescas and sodas). A bit of research shows that it is actually popular around the world. And I was sure I'd seen it on a non-beverage ingredient list in the past, so I had to figure out what that was.
And I did.
Here is the ingredients list for Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce:
"Vinegar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, anchovies, water, onions, salt, garlic, tamarind concentrate, cloves, natural flavorings, chili pepper extract"
The fact that this Weird Soda shares a major flavoring ingredient with steak sauce may not bode well.
Where and when: purchased 3/21/09 at Target, San Marcos, CA
Color: light brown/orange, slightly cloudy. Darker than a lager or apple juice, though.
Scent: Eww. Not much scent, but oddly sweet and salty. I'm trying not to smell it as vaguely vomit-scented. It's not, really, there is an interesting fig-like sweetness, but there's definitely something unpleasant in there too.
Taste: Bleah. Molasses? Maybe Fig Newton with cumin. The tamarind itself is sweet and fig- or date-like, but there is a strong acid/tart component, too. That acid comes forward pretty quickly, in much the same way that one gets a acidy taste in one's mouth with too much saliva when feeling sick. Theres a strange aftertaste, too--to me, for reason's I'm not sure of, it made the image of licking a basketball come to mind.
There's something almost beerlike in the initial taste--under the sweetness, a bitter not unlike hops, very faint. The figlike tamarind flavor isn't so much a problem, but the sour and bitter undertones (the sour especially prominent) are quite unpleasant.
In the course of pre-quaffing research, I found that in several areas, tamarind is dipped in (or mixed with) chili powder when making it into candies. As weird as that sounds, I can see how it would be better; it would counteract the musky, biological flavor that comes with the tamarind. As it is, that sour/bitter flavor is probably what makes me think of pre-vomit saliva, and what makes the K-i-C think of armpit sweat.
It's not extremely sweet, and that is generally a good thing. It tastes a bit like Worcestershire sauce, which is good in macaroni and cheese, but not so much in soda. And it tastes a bit like sweat or sick saliva, and that is a very very bad thing.
Junior Assistant Tester: "Tastes kind of good, but not as good as bad." Oddly, that does kind of sum it up.
Kibbitzer-in-Chief: "Tastes like mango armpit."
Quaff rating: 2. I've had worse--it's easier to quaff than Kombucha Wonder Drink--but it's not exactly fun.
Cough rating: 3.5. Erk.