No it’s not water: introducing clear cola, coffee and tea

Japan has a habit of creating strange foods – and drinks. The latest obsession is apparently creating various flavours of water to challenge your tastebuds into thinking you’re drinking something else.

The drinks, which look like clear water, were reportedly created for Japanese offices, where drinking anything other than plain water is seen as frivolous. So if you have a transparent liquid in your glass, it would seem that you’re simply hydrating yourself without enjoying your drink. So, here are some recent creations that are allowing Japanese employees to seem more ‘professional’.

Coca-Cola Clear

Coca-Cola has just released the aptly-titled Coca-Cola Clear which ditches the familiar black colour, but keeps the original flavour. In ditching the caramel ingredient, a crazy amount of food science goes into it – so much so that the US headquarters spent a whole year developing it, creating over 50 samples.

The end result? A zero calorie version (Japan’s favourite type of beverage), with a splash of lemon. Unfortunately for us here, ANN News reports that it is only available in Japan.

Clear coffee

Not long before Coke released a clear version of their iconic black soda, Asahi (the soft drinks division) released a clear version of their cafe latte. Their Clear Latte is labelled as ‘clear espresso and milk’, and has zero caffeine, zero fat, and ‘light’ in calorie.

While it looks like water, it’s apparently made from espresso extract, whey minerals from raw milk (which is apparently clear), and Asahi’s own mineral water. While the drink does contain real coffee extract, it doesn’t really have the full flavour and only feels like you’re drinking semi-sweet latte-flavoured water. Still, it’s an interesting drink and may curb your caffeine cravings.

Not a coffee fan? Then you can try (you guessed it) clear tea!

Clear tea

One of the pioneers of clear drinks is Suntory, which created their clear version of tea – lemon tea, milk tea, and later, peach tea – last year.

Premium Morning Tea – milk and lemon flavours

Suntory’s Premium Morning Tea is actually made with real tea leaves – they use assam for their milk tea and a blend of different leaves for their lemon tea. To dispel the myth that the teas are not made of artificial flavourings, Suntory produced a simple video showing how black tea leaves are infused with water vapor, which then cools down to a clear liquid with the aroma of tea.

Similar to Asahi’s Clear Latte, Suntory’s milk tea is made with clear lactose and milk minerals – using just these ingredients also removes some of the distinct milky aftertaste in traditional milk teas. If you close your eyes, you’d really think you’re drinking actual milk tea.

This is not the first time Suntory’s done clear drinks – they’ve also created clear drinking yoghurt, for those who are lactose intolerant.

Clear Yoghurt

Way back in 2015, Suntory created Yogurina, their first clear drink that possesses what the company says has “the luxurious taste of yogurt”. If you’ve ever had Calpis Water (or Calpico), it tastes similar, with a milky sweetness and a slightly sour aftertaste.

Using Tennensui (their popular bottled water) mixed with sour whey from Hokkaido, the beverage is completely clear, and even has some amino acids. However, this beverage isn’t totally calorie-free (124 calories per bottle), although it’s got way less calories than an actual yoghurt drink.

Okudaisen Blueberry Yogurina

Earlier this year, Suntory launched a new Yogurina flavour: Okudaisen Blueberry. Instead of blueberry juice, it features the sour-sweet flavour of blueberries from designated growers in the Okudaisen area on the southern part of Japan’s Honshu island.

While some are not available (yet) in Singapore, some supermarkets – including Isetan and Meidiya – already have select ones in stock.