Today at the Lab we have a guest reviewer. Rapier is an old friend of mine, who has (to my eternal admiration) elected to make his first review that of one of the Asian sodas I obtained from Mitsuwa. As far as I can tell, this is called "Ururu Cha". If I remember correctly, "Cha" means "tea", so we can presume that this is not exactly sweet and fizzy.
This hypothesis is further supported by the ingredients list:
Water, Adlay, Brown rice, Barley, Habu tea, Corn, Collagen, Aloe, Black beans, Soybeans, Yuzu, Vitamin C.
Collagen? Collagen? Great; it's a cartilage-flavored Weird Soda. I can only presume the aloe is to ease the suffering of my scalded quaffing spirit. And I have no idea what yuzu is.
Rapier: "I like how they have pictures of the fruits and grains on the side, none of which I recognize."
Where and when: purchased April 2009 at Mitsuwa Marketplace, San Diego, CA
Color: Pale yellowish-brown. Rapier describes it as "Urine, but with mild dehydration".
Scent: Rapier: "OH! Uuuuhhh..." turns away. It smells a lot like burned popcorn. There is a very vague sweetness, but not much. Bready, grainlike, but mostly burned popcorn. I suppose I could say "toasted whole grain", were I feeling charitable, but "burned popcorn" is definitely
Kibbitzer-in-Chief: "It smells like the sauce they put on beef broccoli, which is, I believe, a black bean sauce."
Junior Assistant Tester: "It kind of smells like syrup."
Taste: Watery. Not much taste, actually. Not sweet at all, which given the lack of sugar is not surprising.
Unfortunately, the "toasted whole grain" is still there.
Rapier: "I'm assuming that all those ingredients are what they call popcorn dumped into water."
K-i-C: "It's like you burned some popcorn, washed the pot, and then drank the residue."
The taste is subtle, but persistent. Very mild, but what taste there is is reminiscent of the smell, and that is bad.
K-i-C: "It's not as bad as the smell."
Rapier: "That said, it doesn't taste like anything pleasant."
Rapier feels that I am being a bit overly charitable.
Rapier: "You can't recommend this to people. 'Rush right out and buy a six-pack of Suzu...ru..suru...(looks at bottle) Ururu!'"
Rapier is right; when you take a small sip, the odor becomes stronger. This is bad, as one of the best ways to avoid the less pleasantly Weird of Weird beverages is to take smaller sips. This stuff has found a new avenue of attack, bypassing this defense. The usual avoidance strategies don't work! We're doomed!
Rapier: "It's not as bad as drinking actual urine."
I don't think that Rapier has actually done this, but the fact that he would use it as a comparison is marvelous. The man is a born Quaffmaster, waiting only for the right stimulus.
This probably isn't it.
Junior Assitant: "It tastes almost exactly like water."
Rapier: "I wish that were true..."
I would think this might be an acquired taste, but it's not getting any better with repeated sips.
Rapier: "There's always something new and unpleasant to notice about this soda."
In the end, we finish our glasses, but decide not to finish the bottle. It's not so much that it's awful, but it's more than disappointing. Perhaps "Bad enough to count", but not all the way to "Inducing despair and rage at the world for producing it". I think the most likely effect of significant UruruCha consumption would be ennui tinged with lethargy, with generalized depression.
Quaff rating: 2. It's not that it's undrinkable--it's more that there are more reasons not to.
Cough rating: 2. Doesn't induce nausea, but puts one at risk of giving up hope.
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