Monday, June 29, 2009

Pepsi Shiso

Across the bottom of the bottle, it says "Japanese refreshing flavor".

There's a commercial from the 70's for an American dish washing liquid called "Palmolive". The catch phrase for the commercial is "you're soaking in it." If you haven't seen the commercial, here it is on YouTube:

Now, you might reasonably guess what this has to do with Pepsi Shiso. First of all, they're both green and smell like cleaning fluid of some sort. Shiso (known as Perilla in English) is an herb from the mint family and the scent of this Pepsi is a mixture of pine, mint, and fennel. The pine in particular along with the color really reminds you of the sort of thing you'd use to scrub your floors. The smell is quite potent. My husband likened it to Palmolive as well as Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo. Note that comparisons to food weren't really on the table.

I think that I was more reluctant to taste this than anything I have ever sampled before. The idea of shiso flavoring didn't trouble me, but after smelling it, I was none too keen on drinking it. The first drink really wasn't too bad. I told my husband, "it doesn't taste as bad as it smells." He suggested that Pepsi use that as a slogan in marketing this beverage.

The flavor definitely carries a bit of a soapiness to it because it seems a bit perfume-like. It has a quasi-mint aftertaste and a strong pine-like front end. There really does not seem to be any "Pepsi" flavor in the mix at all. Because the first sip of it wasn't too bad, I was actually inclined to give it a rating higher than Pepsi White at first, but the second and third sips were leading to a really bad build-up of the strong herbal flavors. It became pretty unbearable about 2/3 of the way through the small glass I poured. I nearly got to the bottom, before my stomach started to rebel and twist up a bit in knots. The rest of it is going down the drain, though perhaps first I should see about cleaning the toilet with it.

This is what I'd call a noble effort on Pepsi's part to infuse a unique and interesting flavor into their drink. If it were muted a bit, it might work, or it may render calling it "Shiso" irrelevant much in the way that Green Tea Coke was so subtle as to not really taste much like tea. At any rate, unless you want to try washing your hair in Pepsi, I'd recommend giving this a miss.


Kelly said...

You are braver than me!

Yes, it does indeed look like Palmolive. Ugh.

Orchid64 said...

I really wanted to like it, too.

I guess that anything with strong herbal flavors has a chance of turning out too strong and carrying a cleaning product odor.

Thanks for your comment!

Jen in Japan said...

Thanks for clearing up what shiso really is. I've asked two people and got two different answers. I've seen this at the grocery store and have been wanting to try it. I'm not so eager now....

Darryl said...

Hi Orchid64,

Being a big fan of shiso, I was intrigued and, dare I say it, a little excited when I saw Pepsi Shiso for the first time. Unlike you, I was able to get through the bottle and can't say I was disappointed until .... I read the label and there isn't a single shiso leaf within miles of Pepsi! I should have known better than to expect the real flavour. Of course, the ingredients list is in Japanese and about the only 'pseudo-natural' ingredient I could find (read 'understand without consulting a dictionary') was grape sugar. The rest was proudly hatched in a lab. I think you were probably close to the truth with the cleanser/shampoo/toilet cleaner/industrial solvent analogy. If truth be known, it's most likely that someone at Pepsi accidentally carbonated a batch of one of the above and got a brilliant idea.

Why was I so stupid to think that a company like Pepsi would dare venture into the realm of 'natural'? Needless to say, I won't be forking out any more hard-earned cash for that poor-excuse-for-a-refreshing-drink.

From Troubled in Tokyo

Orchid64 said...

Jen: Hi, and thanks for your comment. I think that real shiso used in cooking would almost certainly be good. My feeling was that the flaw here was in too much of an herb. It's sort of like getting too much basil or mint in something. The right amount is great, but too much is awful. I've never cooked with shiso, but this wouldn't put me off of trying it some time.

Big D: Hi there! I'm glad you dropped by, and commented! I didn't even know that you read this blog (though Joeseph might have mentioned this).

I think that you and I may perceive the strength of the faux shiso differently because you smoke and that may take some of the edge off of the intensity. Also, compared to T., I seem to have a much more acute sense of smell and taste (and he doesn't smoke), so I may have heightened sensitivity.

I often look at the ingredients, but I completely forgot about the list on the Pepsi Shiso, so I really appreciate that you did and commented about it! It was just so gross after about 1/3 of the bottle that I just wanted to get rid of it. I guess it was too expensive to use real shiso in it!

Sherry said...

I love shiso, but this is just revolting. I have never chewed on freshly cut lawn clippings, but I imagine that this drink is very much what that would taste like. My DH bought one to try and it only took one sip of his for me to discover how awful this was. Kudos to anyone who can get through the whole bottle.

Anonymous said...

i want to try it