Sweetener: Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup
Bottled at: Guangzhou, Guangdong, China
Purchase Location: Given to me by my sister
I am breaking my own rule. Generally, this website is dedicated to reviewing only root beverages from glass bottles. However, I thought an exception should be made for a soda making its way to me all the way from China. I should be accommodating to my international guest, shouldn’t I? My sister recently spent some time teaching English in China, and was kind enough to bring this soda home for me.
Sarsi is a sarsaparilla soft drink available in most Asian countries. Sarsae is a brand of sarsi, the most popular sarsi drink in Hong Kong. Sarsae is made by the A.S. Watson Group, which is the largest health and beauty retail group in Hong Kong. It has over 11,000 stores worldwide, and serves over 27 million customers per week.
Sarsae has a distinct flavor from sarsaparilla found in the U.S. It has a a deep brown sugar and molasses flavor. The flavor reminded me a lot of the concentrated and unrefined clump of sugar known in Mexico as piloncillo (I just learned that piloncillo is called panela in English). I am not a huge fan of piloncillo, and I was not a huge fan of Sarsae. Sarsae has very little carbonation and its deep, dark flavor is slightly bitter. I found myself hesitant to take large sips of Sarsae. I ended up not finishing the drink. It was not terrible, but I would be more than happy to never drink it again.