It's a party at the Weird Soda Review Labs!
We have a number of guests here tonight, including (I can say with great joy) a horticulturalist friend of mine, who shall be known as DigDoug. Also present are Gointotrance (who has been here before), his partner Purpleatrix, Neighsayer, and Cryptonaut (DigDoug's brother-in-law, a linguist, world traveler, and Web designer). We've been celebrating Nazgul's birthday party with much merriment, and Cryptonaut extremely generously presented the Lab with a Malaysian blueberry-aloe soda which I've never seen before. More on that in the next review.
While we have DigDoug here, though, I've been meaning to get his help in reviewing one of the rare group of herb or weed-based sodas. Ben Shaws Dandelion and Burdock is one example, but I was delighted to find another recently. While perusing a local Armenian market, I was delighted to find a bottle of bright green soda labeled "Tarragon". Now, cumin is my very favorite spice. I like cumin in almost anything*. Tarragon isn't in my top ten, except on fish. But--and this is the most important part--as soda flavorings go, it's definitely Weird. How could I pass this up?
Where and when: Purchased at the Armenian market.
Color: A remarkable, deep emerald green, almost bluish. It's sort of like Green River, but more saturated, if anything.
DigDoug: "What's that old time soda? Rock phosphate green."
Gointotrance: "It's a green only found in those stretchy Coke bottles from carnivals when you were a kid."
Purpleatrix: "It's the color of your pee when you start taking your vitamins. Well, almost."
Scent: It has a sweet smell, with a strong bitter/herbal element.
DigDoug: "Remember that paste, like the glue-paste in elementary school?"
Gointotrance: "To me, it smells like children's cough syrup."
That's...odd. It's sweet, but the sweet is accompanied by an odd, heady, musky/herbal/bitter taste.
DigDoug: "Thin and punchy."
Gointotrance: "It's got a cream soda aftertaste, after a while."
It does, a very delayed vanilla taste.
Neighsayer:"You know what? I like it." sounding astonished. "Of course, my nose is partially stuffed right now, so I have some level of protection."
Cryptonaut: "Tastes like licorice that's been left out in the rain."
Gointotrance: "The first taste was kind of that diet cough medicine flavor. Then there was a middle taste, which kind of made me *clears throat* a bit, I didn't enjoy the middle taste at all. Then there was the cream soda aftertaste. Of course, I like licorice left in the rain."
Digdoug: "Kind of a rehydrated play-doh flavor. You know, it's got that salty-sweet flavor in there."
Cryptonaut: "Reconstituted play-doh."
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
DigDoug: "Well, it brings back a lot of elementary school memories."
Gointotrance: "This seems to be bringing back almost exclusively memories from our childhood."
I think I taste a bit of cantaloupe. And yes, I think there's a bit of tarragon.
Gointotrance: "Even though it's green, it tastes pink."
It's actually pretty good, once you get past the slightly bitter/musky tone. It's pleasant, coolly sweet, and reasonably smooth.
Apparently (Cryptonaut is doing some research), this is a Soviet drink which was flavored either with tarragon or woodruff. He has also discovered that woodruff is also known as "wild baby's breath" and "master of the woods".
Apparently, woodruff is not convincing to Gointotrance.
Gointotrance: "I'm not drinking much more. Tastes like dandruff."
Quaff rating: 2.5. I would probably have given it a 3, but the general opinion of the others present is less charitable.
Cough rating: 1.5. The herbal taste is very...distinctive.
*The main exception was the experimental vanilla-cumin cream cheese. Oh God.
Columbia Soda Works Sarsaparilla Soda
3 hours ago