Japan’s clear drink trend: transparent milk tea, latte… and now beer?

By Lim Chee Wah

There’s no other way to say this but Japan’s latest trend of clear drinks will ‘blow your mind’. Imagine a bottle of milk tea, lemon tea or even latte, but with transparent liquid that literally looks like water.

Last year, Suntory kickstarted the trend by releasing the revolutionary Tennensui Premium Morning Tea Lemon. This clear lemon tea, which looks indistinguishable from a bottle of mineral water, was so successful that the brand followed up with the even more mind-boggling Tennensui Premium Morning Tea Milk. Yes, milk tea that looks like water.

If you think these are just artificially flavoured water, well, Suntory has dispelled that misconception with a demonstration video. The tea is made by passing water vapour through loose Assam tea leaves to extract the flavour without the colour. The ‘transparent milk’, however, is achieved by just using the milk extracts of lactose and milk minerals while discarding the white-coloured milk fat and protein.

This week, we see two more clear drinks making their way to the market. Suntory added a peach tea to its Premium Morning Tea line (which uses Japanese peach juice), while Asahi released the Clear Latte. This clear ‘espresso and milk drink’ is made with espresso extract and whey minerals from milk; it’s low in calories and contains no caffeine and fat.

Here's where it gets even crazier. Suntory just announced that it will take the transparent drink trend to new heights – with the All-Free All-Time zero-alcohol 'beer'. Yes, we couldn’t believe it either: a beer that has no alcohol, looks like water and is packaged in a plastic bottle. What’s even more surprising is that the drink is being marketed as suitable for the work place. Midday drinking doesn’t look any more inconspicuous than this.

Before you rush out to get the transparent beer, do note that it is only available from June 19. In the meantime, try the clear tea and latte, available at major supermarkets and konbini.

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