Every summer, soft drink companies scramble to come up with the craziest drink inventions for the summer seasons. Last year’s crown of weird drinks in Japan went to Pepsi-Cola’s Salty Watermelon fizzy drink. The title for the 2013 weirdest drink in Japan, on the other hand, goes to Coca-Cola’s Ume (梅 / うめ /salty plum) flavored Fanta drink.
Ume is the symbol of spring-time in Japan. While Ume (うめ) is often translated as “plum,” it is, in fact, a particular type of apricot that is supposedly inedible if eaten as a raw fruit; instead it is either pickled, turned into wine, or strained into a non-alcoholic juice. The Ume tree blooms in early spring; the fruit is harvested in early June (hence it being a summer fruit). Someone on the Coca Cola team obviously thought it would be a good idea to try and create a carbonated beverage that captures the Japanese love for umeboshi (梅干 / うめぼし)(picked plum) and ume fruits.
Unfortunately, the taste fell short.
I’m a huge fan for weird drinks. I couldn’t get enough of the 2012 “weird Japanese summer drink,” Salty Watermelon. I also love Ume boshi – the saltier the better. Friends around Japan are always amazed by my “iron stomach” that loved guzzling down those pickled, maroon tidbits.
However, this carbonated, light brown liquid called Fanta Ume tastes less like the pickled Ume I adore and more like “the artificial cherry gummy bears” (as one of my friends so eloquently stated after her first sip). In the end, Ume plum flavored Fanta tastes more like a non-alcoholic plum wine and less like the vinegary, salty ume drink I was expecting (then again, expecting a vinegary and salty carbonated beverage was probably a pretty stupid thing to do).
So far, three of my friends (excluding myself) have tried Fanta Ume; neither of us are particularly fond of it. However, I also detest artificial cherry flavoring (which, to be honest, this drink really does taste like the artificial, seedless cherries you would find on a cheap ice cream sundae) – so my pallet is slightly biased. If you like Japanese plum wine or artificial cherry flavor, you will probably love this unique, Japanese summer drink.
If you’re in Japan this summer, head on down to your local convenience store and try out this new, limited time offer. Even if you think you won’t like it – it makes for a great story later.
Seriously, it’s a limited time only thing. By the time Fall rolls around, these things will be off the shelf. The crazy summer drinks in Japan have a very short shelf life.
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