You know, sometimes Japan gets all the interesting beverages. I'm not exactly sure why some products and flavors appear there that we'd never see here in the States.
Case in point, Coca-Cola Plus Catechin. Here's how the Associated Press describes it:
Green tea-flavored Coca-Cola will hit Japanese stores June 8, Coca Cola (Japan) Co. spokesman Katsuya Sato said Thursday. It contains tea antioxidants called catechins, leaves a slight green tea aftertaste and is mainly targeted at health-conscious women in their 20s and 30s, Sato said. [Source]
At the same time, Pepsi is rolling out what seems to be their yearly theme of Japanese novelty flavors. Hitting in late June, the latest is Pepsi Shiso, reported to have a basil flavor. Per Wikipedia, Shiso is also known as perilla, and is like a mint leaf.
Like the rest of the world, Coke is the beverage leader in Japan, which leaves Pepsi to play catch up. And while here in the U.S. they try to do that with niche drinks like Pepsi Throwback, Pepsi Natural, and Sierra Mist Ruby Splash, in Japan the tastes seem to be a little crazier.
For example, in 2007, Japan's Pepsi distributor, Suntory Ltd., rolled out Pepsi Ice Cucumber. It didn't actually contain any of the namesake vegetable in the ingredients, but did contain "the refreshing taste of a fresh cucumber," according to spokeswoman Aya Takemoto (per The Associated Press).
Last year, Suntory followed that up with Pepsi Blue Hawaii, a combination of pineapple and lemon flavors. Our friends over at The Impulsive Buy noted that the taste was quite "sweet and artificial, especially the pineapple," but it eventually grew on them. Apparently, it tasted nothing like Pepsi Blue.
Then in late 2008, Pepsi Japan did it again with the introduction of Pepsi White, described as containing a Pepsi and yogurt flavor. The folks over at the A.V. Club remarked that it didn't actually taste like yogurt, but there was a creamy flavor with a hint of lemon.
While these drinks are probably all disgusting and on par with something you might find in a Jones Soda Holiday Collection, it's still pretty fascinating how these kinds of flavors come to market in Japan. Oh well, I guess we'll have to settle for some Mountain Dew Throwback while it lasts!