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Just Curious: Chinatown Beverages

By L. Stolpman in Food on Jul 29, 2008 3:00PM


We were wandering around Chinatown a few weekends back and picked up some beverages from the various bakeries we passed on Wentworth Avenue. Our grandmother regularly has these odd drinks on hand, but we'd never had the privilege of having these curious libations ever pass our lips. We decided to dive in and sample the following beverages.

  • Yeo's Sugar Cane Drink. Ingredients: Water, aqueous extract of sugar cane, cane sugar, artificial color. They weren't lying about the artificial color. The beverage looks like a radioactive Mountain Dew. The consistency is like water, perhaps only slightly more viscous due to the sugar content. Our friend sipped it, being an fan of sugar cane beverages, and declared it watered down. We thought it was vaguely reminiscent of a sweetened rice water drink. Pretty much as you'd expect, though: sweetened water.
  • Vitasoy Malt Soy Drink. Ingredients: Water, Non-Genetically Engineered Soybean, Malt (From Barley), Sugar, Sodium Bicarbonate, Salt. This one was a light brown and cloudy and initially had a powdered drink flavor. To us, soy milk just doesn't taste as clean as rice milk. The malt was actually a nice touch and added some additional body to the drink. Slightly sweet.
  • Yeo's Chrysanthemum Tea Drink. Ingredients: Water, aqueous extract of chrysanthemum, cane sugar and color. This, once poured into a glass, looked a lot more like something you'd leave on the edge of the sink at your doctor's office than something you'd ingest. The taste is slightly sweet and floral. Chrysanthemum tea has some purported benefits: treating acne, getting over a cold or flu and even as an aid to stay awake.
  • Mr. Brown Iced Coffee. Ingredients: Water, coffee extract, sugar, milk powder, emulsified, flavor. We loved an iced coffee and this does the trick, in a pinch. Definitely a strong coffee flavor and not heavy on the milk. It looks more like coffee with a dash of skim. Basically, the color wouldn't prompt someone to ask if you'd like coffee with your cream. Not overly sweet. (Sorry no picture, this one didn't last long!)