Village Vanguard is one of Japan’s more unique stores, selling everything from inappropriate T-shirts to Attack on Titan curry to more inappropriate T-shirts to whatever this is. Some of the food products they stock sit squarely on the border between delicious and “gag gift,” but perhaps the most intriguing of those items is the new Space Tea.
But does it really taste like space? Naturally, we were skeptical…but also curious enough to run out and buy a can. So, come along with us on a journey into the depths of spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!
First, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a gosh-darn second, does space even have a taste?! Isn’t it just…nothing? How can nothing have a taste? Let alone a taste you can put in tea!”
Well, if nothing else, space does seem to affect the way things taste. For example, that whiskey that was aged in space apparently had a very strange flavor, though it seems that this wasn’t really related to space itself but the lack of gravity. That said, it looks like space does also have a smell. As Lizzie Schiffman writes in Popular Science, “The final frontier smells a lot like a Nascar race—a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes, and barbecue. The source? Dying stars, mostly.” Astronauts have said that after a space walk they “[smell] ‘burned’ or ‘fried’ steak,” so it seems that space, if nothing else, has a smell.
But, obviously, we’ve never smelled space, so it’s hard to compare the taste and aroma of Space Tea with the real thing…but we will certainly try!
Space Tea is not cheap — a can with 20 tea bags costs 2,160 yen (about US$17) on Village Vanguard’s website. If you’re just looking for some tea to relax with after a long day, this probably isn’t what you want to get. But we will say that the can looks pretty nifty (both black and white versions are available)!
Upon popping the lid off, you’ll find an aluminum foil bag inside, which holds the 20 tea bags. Opening that bag, you’ll be greeted by a whiff of…
…the equivalent of getting punched in the nose by a can of potpourri.
▼ “Oh, it burns! IT BURNS!”
▼ “Well, maybe once more. Just to be sure…”
▼ “Why?! WHYYYYY?!”
So, on first sniff, Space Tea smells less like space and more like the “space” your freshman hippie roommate wouldn’t stop talking about at three in the morning while you were trying to sleep. However, a whiff of just one bag of the tea wasn’t too bad.
▼ And they’re somehow kind of cute…
So, forging ahead, we dropped the tea bag in a cup, poured in some boiling water, and waited about three minutes. The actual tea doesn’t come with any sort of instructions, so we had to guess, but three minutes seemed about right.
▼ You never feel quite so posh as when pouring a cup of tea…
At this point, the tea was starting to smell pretty nice and it developed a kind of rich reddish-brown color. It almost reminded us of a Martian landscape, but that may be because we’d been watching the trailer for The Martian all day. The aroma wasn’t what we had expected after reading that Popular Science article, though. In fact, it smelled more like a hookah bar than anything.
Once the tea had cooled slightly, it was time for the taste test!
▼ It doesn’t smell too bad…
▼ But it was still pretty damn hot! Not “exploding star” hot though…
Alright, we’re ready for our first taste! How is it?!
“Hunh.” Well, it wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t “a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes, and barbecue,” as mentioned in Popular Science. It was slightly tangy and slightly fruity with a mixture of floral scents.
▼ “It’s kind of weird…but not bad!”
We did end up liking the tea quite a bit — it’s just not very “spacey.” Or, at least, it’s not very “spacey” in the astronaut sense! Of course, we haven’t actually been to space, so maybe we should send some to JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata to get his opinion.
▼ “I like it…but I think I might like it better in zero gravity…”
On the other hand, the tea definitely has an altogether different kind of “spacey” flavor. It would probably go well with a late-night discussion about Life, the Universe, and Everything after a few cups of Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster!
If you’re interested in trying Space Tea yourself, head over to your local Village Vanguard or visit their website to order your own. It’s not exactly “out of this world,” but it might make for a good gift for your astronomy-loving friends!
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