I’d seen China Cola on the shelf at my local soda shop for a while, but had never gotten around to trying the stuff. I must admit, the prospect of a herbal cola worries me, but I’ve seen this in other stores, suggesting it’s a decently well-established drink. Plus, it’s got a cool, 80s-style label. And it’s caffeine free, which is great, since it’s 1 in the morning where I am! So, to hell with it, let’s give it a shot! Courtesy of Reed’s (whose ginger beers are quite good), it’s the “#1 selling natural cola”, China Cola!
Smells basically like cola. Not especially floral or herbal.
Tastes…flat. This one must have gone flat. (Next batch, I drink them quicker. That’s on me.) Tastes like a cola. Maybe less sweet than I was expecting, but not at all bad in its own right.
Let’s see what some of these Chinese herbs and spices are…
Szechuan Peony root – according to WebMD, it’s used to help treat gout! That’s actually the first illness listed. So fuck you, gout, China Cola is on the case!
Cassia bark – a kind of cinnamon. Can’t really taste it. Nicknamed “bastard cinnamon” (according to Wikipedia), which is great. Can damage the liver if consumed in high quantities. Yay?
Malaysian vanilla – just vanilla, it seems.
Oils of lemon, lime, and orange – and that on top of citric acid!
Nutmeg – ok…
Cloves – is this a cola or a glass of mulled wine? (Mulled wine sounds delicious. I should try some.)
Licorice – AAAAAAGH
Cardamon – ever had coffee with cardamon (mom? I thought it was cardamom)? It’s really good.
That’s it for the herbs and spices. Not quite as impressive as I was expecting. I figured ginseng would at least make the cut.
Yeah, this has definitely lost a little zing. It’s one of the milder colas out there. I might try it again, but it’s not really a priority.
Hitting the bottom and getting a touch more flavor. Not bad, not bad at all, but very mild. Certainly one cola completists can get down without issue. I’m a bit surprised this seems to be as popular as it is, but it’s fine.