Origin: Japan (as far as I can tell)
Vendor: Southern Tsunami
Price: Not expensive, but I lost the receipt. Oops!
Yes, that's right-- canned tea. I just saw it in the grocery store today and I had to try it. I've had a couple other bottled/canned tea concoctions before (think "it's brisk, baby"), but I haven't found anything I've really liked. I hear there are some good ones made by Japanese companies, but I have yet to try any of those. I'm not really an iced tea person anyway, so whatever.
You've probably seen a Southern Tsunami franchise in a grocery store, but you may not have noticed it-- I know I didn't until I looked them up. Based out of California, they have "2551 sushi bars in supermarkets and other food service sectors throughout 45 U.S. states and Canada," according to their website. Their sushi isn't what you'd find at a decent Japanese restaurant, but it's still better tasting (and better for you) than that TV dinner and/or bucket of fried chicken you might otherwise pick up for an easy meal.
I was pretty skeptical about this can o' tea at first (it is canned, after all), but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw "Ingredients: Water, Green Tea, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)" on the side of the can. That's right, no sugar or oddball flavorings! So, I brought it home, took some pictures, poured myself a glass, and started writing this. Interestingly, it doesn't look artificial at all. Actually, it's sort of an ugly yellow-green, like bancha.
***Note: Bancha is a lower grade Japanese green tea, made from the larger leaves (and some stems) not used for gyokuro or sencha. Though it is of a lower grade, it is still quite tasty. It brews heartier than other Japanese teas, and holds its ground with food. When Bancha is roasted, it becomes Hojicha, which is also very good with food.***
So then I took my first sip, and the rest, as they say, is history.
...Just kidding. It's not really that spectacular, but then again it's not that bad either. It tastes a lot like bancha, so at least it's not some crummy Chinese tea sold in Japanese packaging to unwitting westerners. At first, it tastes just like water, but a moment later a refreshing bancha taste fills the mouth and lingers. Not bad at all! I'm excited that what they're selling as green tea actually tastes like green tea, as opposed to most of the other crap you'll find, and Japanese green tea no less.
I was expecting some sort of low quality sencha or matcha when I bought the can, but frankly I'm glad it wasn't. Bancha is a refreshing tea anyway (even "brisk, baby", but in a good way), and I think if it were sencha I would expect more of an enjoyment beverage than a thirst-quencher. While I can't say I'll be ordering a case of this stuff-- let's face it, I'm not much of an iced tea guy-- It's really not that bad. As refreshing in its honesty as it is in its taste, Southern Tsunami's canned green tea gets a 6.5/10.