QUICK REVIEW: Pure Leaf Tea House Collection Organic Green Tea with a Hint of Fuji Apple & Ginger

Pure Leaf's Tea House Collection Organic Green Tea with a Hint of Fuji Apple & Ginger

Pure Leaf’s Tea House Collection Organic Green Tea with a Hint of Fuji Apple & Ginger has an aroma that makes me think the ginger is going to burn and a name that’s so long it makes me parched.

But thankfully the ginger was mild enough that it didn’t burn and I could take a sip of the tea that made my mouth dry after saying its name.

The ginger flavor is front and center with every sip. The apple gets lost with the ginger, but it does seem to give the tea a sweetness. Perhaps the apple is there to tone down the ginger, which itself isn’t potent flavor wise. All I could think of while gulping it down after every time I said Pure Leaf’s Tea House Collection Organic Green Tea with a Hint of Fuji Apple & Ginger was how it just tastes like a sweetened ginger green tea.

I’m disappointed the apple doesn’t stand out, but it’s still a tasty and refreshing tea. Although, maybe after saying its full name, any liquid would be refreshing to my mouth.

Purchased Price: $2.59
Size: 14 fl oz.
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew White Label

Mtn Dew White Label

Gather ‘round, kids: it’s time for a Choose Your Own Adventure story!

You are Mountain Dew Pitch Black, a heroic soda knight whose early 2000s Halloween conquests — and recent 2016 revival — made him the sugary stuff of legends and memories alike.

But although you’re a more mythic Mountain than Olympus, people aren’t as charmed by radioactively purple syrup as they used to be. So if you don’t want to join Heinz EZ Squeeze in Violet Valhalla, you’ll have to grow up.

Which path will you take at this pivotal crossroad?

If you choose the dark path, turn to a different review.

If you choose the light path, turn to the next page and prepare to see a threatening, all-caps THE END that’ll make you glad you kept your thumb on the previous page.

Why? Because while Mountain Dew’s recent Black Label was a deliciously classy Pitch Black who grew up to host dinner parties and own an art house theater, this new White Label tastes like an adult Pitch Black who bitterly yells at the local news with his mouthful of lukewarm Hungry Man dinners.

Mtn Dew White Label 2

Enough doom, gloom, and microwaved rib eye for now: let’s start with the positives. Mountain Dew White Label does preserve much of the grape flavor that makes Pitch Black great, without the syrupy discomfort that Pitch Black’s many grams of sugary slugs slime onto the back of your throat. At only 35 grams of sugar and 140 calories per can, this comparatively light Dew won’t leave you shamefully feeling like you drank a Nickelodeon prop.

I say “much of the grape flavor,” because the fruitiness is lighter, too. The white grape juice concentrate lacks the sour, tangy punch of its red sibling, but it replaces it with an unparalleled crispness that’s nearly floral. It’s no chardonnay, but I can see this flavor appealing to a niche audience of Dew snobs.

Unfortunately, that’s the nicest thing I can say about Mtn Dew White Label. Because once the white grape flavor fades, an unwelcome orange backend takes its place. The can claims that White Label is “Dew with Crafted Tropical Citrus,” but the bitter, acrid tang of this orange finish just tastes like the juice of a wrinkly tangerine that was infused with expired SunnyD and the pity tears of a passing pineapple.

In short: this tropical shipwreck’s more LOST than Gilligan’s Island.

Mtn Dew White Label 3

Mtn Dew White Label isn’t undrinkable, and it might work for those seeking a super smooth soda that won’t pummel their trachea with the aggressive jabs of a million bubbles, but Black Label just tastes superior in every way. White Label is pretty much Diet Black Label (it contains Sucralose, and you can tell), and since Black Label was already a less carbonated Pitch Black, this new Dew’s one degree of separation too far away to be worth it.

So please, young Pitch Black, if you’re reading this, disregard Master Kenobi and embrace the power of the Dark Side.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: White grape concentrate that’s crisper than Denny’s hash browns. Not feeling like my taste buds went on Double Dare. Liquid opacity that rivals Crystal Pepsi. Pairing this with Doritos for a low-budget wine & cheese night.
Cons: Diet Diet Pitch Black. Cantankerous citrus aftertastes. Pineapple pity parties. Suddenly: sucralose! Never getting to eat purple ketchup again. Throwing so much shade they could’ve called it “Grey Label.”

REVIEW: Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

For most of my life I’ve thought of ginger as more of a medicine than an ingredient.

When I felt nauseous playing DOOM, I sucked on ginger candy. When I felt something funny in my tummy while watching someone play DOOM, I drank ginger ale. And when it felt like the room was spinning around every time I closed my eyes after playing DOOM, I hung out next to the toilet.

While ginger ale is quite possibly the most popular beverage with ginger, more drinks are being offered with it, like ginger beers, ginger kombucha, and, last year, Pepsi put some into their wonderful 1893 Ginger Cola.

Because of my love for Pepsi’s craft ginger cola, the first thing I sought out during my Japan trip was the new Coca-Cola Plus Ginger.

While Pepsi Japan comes out annually with limited edition soda flavors you’ve never seen in a PETE plastic soda bottle, Coca-Cola Japan keeps it simple by just adding a bit of flavor to the standard Coke and does it at an Olympics-like frequency. About three years ago, Coca-Cola Japan sold a delicious orange-flavored Coke.

It’s funny that the Pepsi Japan flavors are like ideas from a cocaine binge (cucumber, baobab, cherry blossom), while the cola that once had actual cocaine in it ends up being tame.

Much like the amount of orange flavoring in the last limited edition Japanese Coke I had, this soda had the right amount of ginger flavor. You can’t miss it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the cola. To be honest, it tastes right at home with the cola spices. Also, it didn’t burn, like it does with ginger beer. Coca-Cola Plus Ginger is such a great tasting soda that I bought two more bottles at the end of my trip.

If you enjoyed Pepsi’s ginger cola, you’ll like this, if you get your hands on it. It’s only available in Japan for a limited time (it was available in Australia in 2016) or from an online Japanese snack seller. If you think you’ll be able to replicate it by mixing Coca-Cola with Seagram’s Ginger Ale, you won’t because I tried using various ratios and none of them tasted anything close.

I really hope Coca-Cola Plus Ginger ends up in the United States, or at least be an option on a Coke Freestyle machine.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 44 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sodium, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 130 Japanese Yen
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: Lawson Station
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you’re a fan of Pepsi’s 1893 Ginger Cola, you’ll like this. Right amount of ginger flavor. Ginger complements the cola spices. Doesn’t have ginger burn.
Cons: Not available in the U.S., but might be available through online Japanese snack sellers. The nauseous feeling I got when playing DOOM.

REVIEW: Nestle Nesquik Protein Plus Vanilla Milk

Nestle Nesquik Protein Plus Vanilla Milk

Protein. We need it for body stuff.

Yeah, I don’t know what body stuff exactly. I have an English degree and got C’s in every class that ends with -ology or -ience.

What I do know is that protein is big. A big money maker. Everywhere you look in the grocery store, companies are putting the stuff into everything they possibly can. And I guess Nesquik Protein Plus Milk, is Nestle’s way to get a little bit of that sweet, sweet protein drink money.

Some of you might be thinking, regular Nesquik is milk so it already has protein. That’s true, but it just has more. According to the bottle, Nesquik Protein Plus has “10% more of the daily value for protein per 8 fl oz than regular Nesquik.” A cup of it has 13 grams of protein, while regular Nesquik has 8 grams.

Wait.

I got C’s in every class that ends with -athematics, but I’m pretty sure the difference between 13 grams and 8 grams is more than 10 percent.

Anyway, this protein enhanced milk gets its protein from the milk and an ingredient called milk protein concentrate. What’s milk protein concentrate? Again, C’s in every class that ends with -ology or -ience.

Nesquik has always been a brand that targets kids. But Nesquik Protein Plus is for adults, or as the bottle says, “For Adults Young At Heart.” But from afar, it looks like any Nesquik bottle. So other adults are going to look at you and think to themselves, “Oh my God, how can you drink that? You’re not lactose intolerant?”

As for its flavor, well, if you’ve had regular vanilla Nesquik milk, you will know what this tastes like. It’s sweet, creamy, it’s better tasting than a vanilla protein powder shake, and I enjoyed drinking it. The added protein doesn’t affect its flavor.

Yes, it does have a good amount of sugar in it (22 grams per serving). But the bottle does say it has “28% less sugar than the leading Protein Enhanced Flavored Milk.” So, there’s that. Although, as we’ve learned earlier, this bottle isn’t good at stating accurate percentages.

But if you want to consume a lot of protein, be young at heart, and satisfy your sweet tooth, this milk is a tasty way to do it.

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 14 fl oz
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 ounces) 170 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 450 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Limited Edition TruMoo Cookies ‘n Cream Lowfat Milk

Limited Edition TruMoo Cookies & Cream Lowfat Milk

I’m sure Home Depot has in stock a color that’s similar to the Limited Edition TruMoo Cookies ‘n Cream Lowfat Milk. I’m not sure what the various paint companies call this color, so I shall give it my own name — Underground Villain Hideout Gray.

It’s a depressing color. But it’s an appropriate color for a slightly depressing beverage.

According to its carton, “TruMoo Cookies ‘n Cream Lowfat Milk is more than just delicious. We start with white lowfat milk that provides everyday nutrition. Next we add cocoa and cookie flavor for the creamy cookie ‘n cream combination you love.”

Most of the creamy cookie ‘n cream combinations I’ve loved have been in the form of Oreo cookies, Hershey’s Cookie ’n’ Creme Nuggets, Cookies-n-Creme Twix, cookies ‘n cream ice cream, cookies and cream ice cream, cookies & cream ice cream, and cookie ‘n’ cream ice cream. But this milk’s flavor doesn’t quite match those experiences.

Now let me just state kids will probably say they love it, even though I feel that’s the liquid sugar in it that’s doing the talking. But it’s not the same cookies ‘n cream that I know and love and have gained several pounds from. It has a mild cocoa flavor that isn’t too sweet and there’s a nice balance between it and the “cream” part. It’s not bad tasting, but it’s not a flavor that’s so good that it makes me want to go out and buy another carton.

It’s a great source of calcium and vitamin D, has 11 grams of protein per cup, the milk comes from cows that haven’t been treated with artificial growth hormones, it doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup, and it might go great with a bowl of chocolatey cereal, but it’s a less satisfying take on cookies ’n cream.

Limited Edition TruMoo Cookies & Cream Lowfat Milk 2

Purchased Price: $5.89*
Size: Half gallon
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup) 160 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 540 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: 7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee

It’s Slurpee’s 50th birthday, and to celebrate, 7-Eleven has released a slew of celebratory products, from the Birthday Cake Slurpee I bought to Birthday Cake Cappuccinos and Slurpee doodle Pop-Tarts.

Heck, I’m surprised they didn’t inject their hot dogs with Funfetti, since those same dogs have probably been rolling under that heat lamp for the past 50 years anyway.

Since I rode my bicycle to 7-Eleven in the summer heat, I wouldn’t make it home in time without a birthday puddle in my cup. So I was forced to photograph my Birthday Cake Slurpee in front of pedestrians who looked at me like an escaped zoo animal.

But most of them were capturing Pokémon with their phones anyway, so I like to think my weird photo-shoot was hidden behind a Snorlax.

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee 2

My first Slurpee sip was more “funeral” than “birthday.” A flowing log flume of watered-down vanilla flavor cascaded through my mouth, and it was chased by a faint lemon zest. If nothing else, I give 7-Eleven’s mad food scientists credit for including a more subtle frosting note.

All debates about icing authenticity aside, the watery vanilla made an awful first impression. Iciness in a cola or fruity Slurpee is acceptable, because soda and fruit juice are things that actually occur in real life. But runny liquid vanilla paste tastes sadly unnatural, as if someone had cried all over a cake.

Maybe 7-Eleven accidentally booked “Prenuppo the Recently Divorced Clown” for Slurpee’s birthday party.

But it wasn’t all tears and tragedy, because the Slurpee actually improved as time and the laws of physics went on. Gravity sent the sweet ribbons of syrupy vanilla extract twisting to the bottom of the cup, while thermodynamics turned the slush into crystallized batter.

The increased vanilla flavor concentration made my Birthday Cake Slurpee considerably more pleasant, so I tried greedily Slurpee-ing down the remaining purée before it could metamorphose into something even more melted and sloppy.

I didn’t make it in time, though (damn you, sun!). I was soon left with a dizzyingly sweet concoction that made me grimace like the time I sipped straight from a vanilla extract bottle (damn you, tempting smell!). But all hope was not lost, because I still had reinforcements to call in.

7-Eleven Birthday Cake Slurpee 3

Slurpee’s birthday celebration also includes a new Birthday Cake Doughnut, and for only 99 cents, I couldn’t resist garnishing my Slurpee and turning myself into a gawk-worthy street performer.

I’m surprised no one tossed a handful of change into my Slurpee cup.

The dry and crumbly doughnut sucks up the “juices,” and the lightly golden-sweet pastry lends a welcome, floury yellow cake flavor to a Slurpee that’s otherwise pure frosting. Meanwhile, the ring’s own caked on icing provides a buttery pop that complements the drink’s vanilla and lemon combo.

This birthday is an afternoon-long affair, too. Even as I tried biking my calories off, an aftertaste of tangy vanilla custard lingered. And like any post-party funk, it was simultaneously uncomfortable, bittersweet, and a little sticky.

So while I was able to derive some enjoyment from its various ups and downs, this Birthday Cake Slurpee was just too high maintenance to ever be a repeat purchase. The Slurpee is barely worth a novelty buy, and I hope 7-Eleven tries a birthday cake milkshake for Slurpee’s 100th birthday party instead. It would be less texturally off-putting, and I likely won’t have any teeth left by then anyway.

Oh, and I hope they don’t hire that darn clown again. I think I saw the poor fella sleeping in his tiny car last night.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 fl oz – 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: Small
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Half-melted cake batter Slurpee abdomens. Spiraling vanilla tentacles. Using a doughnut like a paper umbrella. The sweet feeling of air conditioning on my vanilla-stained face.
Cons: “Crying Clown” cake flavoring. Custard hangovers. Shouting “I am not an animal!” to helpless passerby. Becoming a real life Snorlax after too many doughnuts. Frosting-filled frankfurters.