June 21, 2013

Conbini Cabaret: Tanita Organic Tea

by Shizuka Wakashita

I went to college in the States after I graduated from high school in Japan. I learned how to speak English and how to eat two portions. After a year, I gained 30 pounds. I didn’t feel so guilty when living in the States but I felt horrible every time I went back to Japan and saw my friends from high school looking all slim and gorgeous. I usually lost more than 10 pounds during my stay in Japan with no hassle. It was mainly because food is served at smaller portions but also perhaps because Japanese cuisine has healthier options. Now that I live back in Japan, I try to lead a healthy lifestyle as much as possible.

When you step into a conbini, you will find a wall full of drinks to-go. I would say one third of the drinks are tea —  mostly green tea that is not sweetened. Japanese people are very fickle, so beverage companies have to constantly offer a wide variety of products. Otherwise people won’t buy them.

One of the drinks I recently found and liked is this organic oolong tea from Tanita Cafeteria.

Tanita is a company that manufactures weight scales, body fat monitors and various other health equipment. They are also well-known to serve healthy lunches at their cafeteria, which has become quite famous in Japan. The food at the Tanita shokudou (cafeteria) has been so popular among their employees since many have lost weight eating there regularly. They released a cook book in 2010, which turned out to be a best seller and have sold over 1 million copies.

Many of these book fans requested that Tanita open a restaurant to the public, where they can also eat the cafeteria’s healthy meals. Last year, Tanita responded by opening a cafeteria-style restaurant in Marunouchi. This year, Tanita went a step further to launch several products including this drink.

Tanita bottled the tea that they serve at the cafeteria restaurant in Marunouchi, Tokyo. This plastic PET bottle drink was only available at Natural Lawson but it is now sold at other conbini and online shops. What’s so impressive and attractive to me is that this is organically certified by all of the major institutions: BSC (like USDA in EU), USDA, and Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS), which is very rare.

It is also supposed to have 145 mg of natural polyphenol which is suggested to consume after eating fatty foods since it supposedly helps you burn fat. Even though I have shed off all the 30 pounds from my college years, I still feel the need to get slim living in Japan. Yes, this is why I cannot help but buy this tea.

**Conbini Cabaret celebrates conbini culture, in preparation for the opening of U-MART on Tuesday 6/25. Umami for life! -KA

3 Comments

  • worm
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    It’s rare (in fact, it’s never happened) that I don’t find an article on UM entertaining and educational. Although I am sure that the writer’s intention was simply to inform us of a product she felt worthy of spotlighting, I found the underlying message of the piece to be about her prepccupation with weight loss (i.e. not really about food or drink)
    It might have been interesting to see reviews and comparisons of conbini drinks instead of the rather dull description of this one drink and the writer’s interest in Tanita as a company. I mean no disrespect to the writer — as a woman, I can even sympathize with her. But as a woman, I also question whether we need to read yet another piece where a female obsesses about her weight.

  • Kayoko
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Worm, thanks for your comment. While I agree that the article diverted from the “conbini” theme and is unlike typical posts on Umami Mart, I do think weight and health consciousness is very food and drink-related. Although I myself am not pre-occupied with my weight so much, articles like this make me stop and think that perhaps I SHOULD be more health-minded. However, I do think that Japan’s obsession with weight may border on UNhealthy in a psychological sense, and Tanita’s methods are too extreme for my taste (weight scales in the corners of the restaurant, etc).

    Most of all, I appreciate Shizuka’s honest account about her personal experiences with her own body image. It is rarely talked about on Umami Mart, but obviously weight-consciousness is a major topic all around the world. I think we should talk about it more.

  • Shizuka
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Worm, thank you for your comment and I’m sorry that my post was not entertaining. I always appreciate any feedback from readers and I’ll try to write more interesting post next time.
    Kayoko-san, thank you for being open-minded about my view point and consideration! Shizuka

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