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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Arvand Sparkling Yogurt Beverage (Two flavors: Mint and Tart)

When the Kibbitzer-In-Chief visited the local Persian market, she didn't feel that bringing back a single Weird Soda would be sufficient. In fact, she found three.
Unfortunately, they are all yogurt-based.
The first was Abali, reviewed previously. It was hideous; cheesy, with an overtone of spoiled milk. However, The K-i-C found two others at the same time. These other two are siblings, two flavors from the same brand. One might think that a flavored yogurt soda might be nice--after all, people eat frozen yogurt enthusiastically, right? And you can get any number of nice fruit yogurts in the grocery store. Maybe this will be like that--carbonated peach yogurt, or wild berry, or something like that. That might be OK.
I don't know if such things exist, but that's not what the K-i-C brought back to the Lab. Instead, she brought back two flavors of Arvand Sparkling Yogurt Beverage. The first flavor is "Mint". I don't recall ever seeing mint yogurt before. It's not a flavor I would normally think would go well with yogurt, although I suppose it might be interesting. The second flavor is simply called "Tart".
I can think of several interpretations for this. It could be "Tart" as in "raspberry tart, bought at some nice British market, a flavorful confection of pastry and fresh berries". That could be good.
I suppose it might even mean "Tart" as in "a person, usually female, characterized by a sarcastic attitude, and possibly of suspect moral character". I'm choosing not to speculate on how that might manifest as a soda flavor.
However, I'm guessing that it means "Tart" as in "tangy, sour, or astringent". Oh, goody.

Another interesting thing to note about these sodas: while they were bought in a Persian market, they were made in Canada. Specifically, Vancouver. This is the first trilingual soda label I've ever seen; the ingredients are listed in both English and French, and the main label is in English on one side and something which I presume to be Arabic (although I'm sure I wouldn't know the difference between that and Farsi, or maybe something else) on the other.

So here we have Arvand, a sparkling yogurt-based soda, made in Canada, marketed in California in a Persian market, being tasted in Mint and "Tart" flavor varieties. It's another good day at the Weird Soda Review Labs.

Where and when: purchased May 2009 at Persepolis Market, San Marcos, CA
Color: both are identical: milky white, separated (before shaking) into a vaguely translucent upper layer and an opaque lower layer. The lower layer turns out to be composed of yogurt solids, which is evident upon shaking; they separate into clumps and streamers distributed throughout the volume of the bottle. This does not fill me with transcendent joy.

Let's assess these separately.
Doesn't smell quite as bad as the Abali. Sour and minty.
K-i-C: "It smells like a tablet you're supposed to chew to cure indigestion."
Punctilius: "Smells chalky. Milk of magnesia."
Punctilius: "I'd rather drink the cabbage."
Very tart. Not as much of the spoiled-milk taste as the Abali, and the mint is present, but it's overwhelmed by the yogurt. Salty and sour, with a touch of mint, overwhelmingly strong. This is not remotely refreshing. Leaves a chalky texture on your tongue.
K-i-C: (hands it back) "I can't even taste that. Sorry."
Punctilius: "Some things, you develop a taste for, like Scotch. It would be a long time before you developed a taste for this. It's making my stomach churn."
The aftertaste has a bit more of the mint and less of the yogurt; it's not as unpleasant. Not that it's good, mind you--just less revolting.
*tiny additional sip*
Interesting. There's an undertone which almost tastes like brown rice--kind of nutty (as in nut-like, not insane). I'm not sure what that's doing there. It's a measure of how unpleasant this is tht a hint of bran in the flavor is a welcome distraction from the rest of it. When the taste of rice in a soda is as much of a relief as the sight of water in a parched and barren wasteland, you know your soda is not just Weird, but Icky.

Given how extremely strong the salt/sour of the yogurt taste is in this, I am scared of the "Tart" flavor. But scared doesn't matter. I have NO FEAR!

Oh my God. It's much like the Abali; spoiled, fermented milk.
Punctilius: "That smells like something left in the refrigerator about two weeks past date."
The K-i-C can't even speak; she just hands it back.
Taste: I hesitate, caught between dread and duty.
Aw, heck. Let's go with duty.
Actually, it tastes better than it smells.
K-i-C: "You'll have to live alone with that knowledge."
It doesn't taste good, but it does taste rather a lot like cheddar cheese. Compared to the smell, that's actually almost good. I find myself able to sip it again. Let's try a bigger sip.
Er. Okay, we won't try that again. But in small sips, it's drinkable. Not enjoyable, exactly, but drinkable. The aftertaste is less pleasant; I'm not sure what it is, vaguely gassy.
If I wanted a cheddar cheese soda, and could avoid smelling it, I'd go with this.

My duty--my calling--requires something of me which I don't want to do. To truly provide a reasonable comparison, I must re-sample the Abali. In my memory, it's worse than these--a worse smell than the Tart, and a worse taste than the Mint. But in the interests of science, and for the integrity of Weird Soda Review, I feel compelled to open a fresh Abali and sample it.
We who are about to quaff salute you.
Nyghughuglrugh...I was right. The Abali has a stronger smell and taste of fermentation, or bacterial waste. The foulness is stronger in the Abali than in either of the Arvands. Oh, this is awful.

Quaff rating: 1. The mint could make this almost nice; the aftertaste proves it. But it's almost impossible to drink it.
Cough rating: 4. I was faced with a dilemma here: my rule is that a 5 will be given only to a soda which makes me throw up. This did not, but...let's say that if the same rule applied to the other end of the gastrointestinal tract, this would have gotten a 5.

Quaff rating: 1. The scent was awful, even though the taste was not quite as awful. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to drink without smelling it, so it still gets a 1.
Cough rating: 3.5. Once it was in my mouth, it didn't actively make me want to throw up, and in small sips I could swallow it without wincing. But I'm a professional; I would not recommend this to anyone who wasn't specifically looking for a cheese soda.


  1. How sparkling were they? I can't imagine fizzyness enhancing a chedder cheese soda very much.

  2. Pretty sparkling. And no, the fizz did not enhance the cheese, although I was surprised to find that it didn't detract as much as I thought it might. I suspect that without it, the soda would have been to heavy and thick to drink.

  3. That drink is usually intended to settle an upset stomach, not so much as a refreshing beverage....for most of us anyways.

  4. As one of those weirdos who voluntarily drinks yogurt soda, all I can tell you is it's really good... The local Persian market has at least four or five different varieties, and I've yet to encounter one I don't like. If your taste buds are tuned to it, it's refreshing and it doesn't have the icky, syrupy, cloying quality of most sweet sodas. And Abali is actually my favorite.

  5. You guys are wusses. Yogurt soda (doogh) is awesome. But it sounds like you don't even like plain yogurt to begin with, you prefer the wussy "fruit" flavored ones filled with HFCS and other junk.

  6. Actually, I love plain yogurt, especially the Greek variety. I just couldn't tolerate this stuff. However, I have heard that many folks do like it.

    I was also informed that this wasn't quite the same as doogh. Could you describe doogh, so I can make a more formal comparison?

  7. arvand sparkling yogurt mint and tart are doogh! however there is a difference with homemade doogh which is less strong as its made with store bought plain yogurt and usually has crushed dry mint leaves in it. i absolutely love arvand dooghs or any kind actually. but its a drink you grow up with and become accustomed too rather than try and instantly like. for me however its the most delicious and addictive drink i crave it !
    just so you know :)
    from the half persian half irish girl

  8. could u tell me about how to make carbonated yoghurt?thank u

  9. grew up on the persian drink dough, love it, cant get enough, but nobody i know can stand it other than my family. send it on over !

  10. Yeah, it's definitely something that you will love if you had it starting as a child. Persian food tastes even better with it in my opinion.

    Doogh IS exactly that. Homemafe doogh is usually not carbonated and most non-Persians can tolerate that more than the carbonated store-bought variety. Kudos for trying it though. I hope you shook the bottle well! ;)

  11. I love doogh. It tends to be more for people who've been used to yogurt based drinks. So people across the Middle East and South Asia will happily inhale it.

  12. I go through 2L of doogh every few days. It has the same amount of calcium and protein as a glass of milk. Not only it's good for you, it also tastes amazing.

    We Iranians drink this like water. But this drink is popular all across Eastern Europe, Middle East and even in India/Pakistan.

  13. Having been exposed to the Iranian/Persian culture for several years, I guess that I am one of the few non-Persian Americans that has an acquired taste for doogh (yes, the Arvand beverage is Doogh). I also believe that it is good for the digestive system and is well suited as an accompaniment for Middle-Eastern culinary cuisine.

  14. Totally agree.... Married into Persian family and love this drink ... Amazingly refreshing especially with Persian Kabab... One of life's special flavours... And when it's fizzy and cold omg so delicious.
    But it took me a while to love it ... Right now I am looking to by a box of it and get it in my fridge...

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