Friday, September 7, 2012

Suntory Oolong Tea Oriental Blend (Gasp!) 09-06-2012

Feelings: I drink a lot of Japanese iced bottle tea, especially oolong and jasmine. Coca-Cola, Ito-En and Suntory all produce variety of delicious unsweetened tea, and they are widely available in Japan. In recent years, local delis in NYC started carrying Ito-En brand, which is a welcoming, healthier caffeinated trend.

On my weekly trip to Sunrise Japanese supermarket in East Village, I found a new blend of tea: Suntory's Oolong Tea Oriental Blend. Yes, oriental blend. If I recall my post-colonialism studies days in college, since Edward Said's Orientalism, the word "oriental" is considered as an expression of prejudice. However, not so in Japan. There is a popular comedy duo called "Oriental Radio," and Tokyo Disney Land is run by "Oriental Land Group." In fact I had no idea that this was taboo until one day in high school in Florida when I was actually called Oriental. "Wow, I can't believe you let him call you that," I would hear. And I was called that word many times in a small town in Florida by soda drinkers.

After moving to NYC 10 years ago, I was called Oriental just once, and I recall the entire table freezing up in prolonged awkward silence. Now I look at this very smooth, refreshing tasting Suntory Oolong Tea Oriental Blend, this to me tastes like sweet irony.


Sara Shacket said...

I'll have to look for that bottled tea! Oriental Beauty is a common name for the oolong tea Bai Hao and Dong Fang Mei Ren. I am always surprised when I hear it called Oriental Beauty, because it is such an un-PC term here in the US.

Yosh. O said...

Ah That makes sense why they named this Oriental Blend!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm in Japan, I search for new teas to try. At the end of the day, it's just rebranding much of the time, regardless, the teas are refreshing and omnipresent! That the standard is sugarless makes them even more appealing... I wrote about the varieties one can find a while ago, if readers are interested:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm in Japan, one of my priorities is to seek out new bottles of tea to try. At the end of the day, it's mostly just remaking how the label looks year after year, but the tea is still unsweetened and refreshing, so there's no harm in that. Which store in NY do you think has the best variety of Japanese teas? In case you or your readers are interested, I wrote about this topic a few months ago:

Yosh. O said...

Thanks for your comment, BuildingMyBento! I usually go to Sunrise Mart in E Village or Midtown.

When I was in Japan earlier this month, I saw something called "Pungency Tea"--interesting naming!