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Is it coffee or tea? What you need to know about Japan's new 'tea coffee' drink

By Victoria Vlisides

Last week, most of us in Japan were minding our business and then out of nowhere, tea got mixed with coffee — and got commercially distributed.

Yes, you can now pick up this tea-coffee hybrid called (surprisingly enough) “Wonda Tea Coffee” at most local grocery and convenience stores. Released last week, the beverage that can’t quite decide what it wants to be, is the creation of one of Japan’s biggest drink companies, Asahi Soft Drink Co, for part of the new Wonda Coffee lineup with the slogan “Life… it’s all about having fun!”

It’s supposedly marketed toward young people who are “not strong enough” to go all in with a straight coffee. That’s according to a press release by Asahi about a new commercial nationally broadcasted with actor Ryunosuke Kamiki, former AKB48 member Rina Kawaei and renowned director and comedian Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi) to promote the tea-slash-coffee drink.

This is pretty shocking for most of us die-hard coffee or tea people who would never dream of mixing the two, but this type of drink is already popular in Hong Kong. There, it’s called yuenyeung and is made from coffee and milk tea. Swirling on the internet is also talk of the beverage not necessarily being popular in the West, but “existing.”

In the past decade, even Starbucks had it on some sort of “secret menu” reportedly as far back as 2010. (One of the nicknames for a version of it is “Dirty Chai” — decidedly less tame than the Japanese version.) However, unlike in Japan, it seems like a drink you order at a café, not something you have on your grocery list.

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Is it coffee or tea?

I'm guessing neither!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sounds disgusting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Disgusting taste, the two don't work together. Someone at work years ago made me a mug of tea which they stirred with the same spoon as their coffee, tasted vile, had to chuck the tea away.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

No thank you. Indian tea yes. Green tea yes. Coffee yes. Coffee-tea no! Probably also contains sugar or worse sweetener.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is not new. I remember my uncle who passed away ordered something like that from small cafe when I was in early teen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People probably said the same thing about East Asian tea and milk. Now look what's happened - matcha latte and matcha ice cream.

If it doesn't have any sugar, I might try the black one.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wonda Tea Coffee, cheese ramen, mayo on pizzas, where will the madness end?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

 “Life… it’s all about having fun!”


Now if they started selling Mary Jane tea, that tag line would fit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Absolutely, no!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Had it many years ago in Singapore, was called Yin-Yang, at a cafe and tasted actually quite good. But then, their way of making it looked much more sofisticated and thought-out than just mixing to beverages.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The 焙じ茶 usage was likely wise. But I never drink anything out of bottles, so that's all moot.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One time I mixed coffee with black tea... that thing was one of most disguisting thing I ever tasted. However, adding milk, make it drinkable, but still tasted interesting :D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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