Limited Edition Taste Testing: Fanta Grapefruit and Fanta Ume

Ahh, Japanese summer. The season where I frantically try to keep bugs out of my apartment and spend the majority of my time sweating like a pig. In fact, I really love summer even if I do rack up quite the aircon-induced electricity bill, and one of the reasons why is because of all the limited edition goodness that comes out when the weather heats up. For today’s Otaku Lounge I’ll be reviewing two such limited edition drinks, both released by Coca Cola Japan – Fanta Grapefruit and Fanta Ume.

First up to the plate, Fanta Grapefruit. In fact, this flavour is not completely new, having previously been released as a limited edition drink in Japan in 1993 and then again in 2002. Evidently it must have garnered enough popularity for it to be released a third time in 2013, although I failed to be especially impressed.

fanta grapefruit

I don’t mind grapefruit as a general rule, and will occasionally drink a grapefruit flavoured juice if I need a pick-me-up but aren’t in the mood for anything overly sweet. Unfortunately, this is where Fanta Grapefruit ultimately falls short for me. While the taste is far from terrible, it’s actually far more sugary than I’d like. Sip one was admittedly nicely refreshing, and the next few mouthfuls were palatable enough, but after that it went downhill, and polishing off the rest of the bottle became something of a chore. Whether you like grapefruits themselves or not, there’s not enough of the real citrus sourness to counteract the syrupy sweetness – it’s there somewhere, but once the initial pleasant aftertaste has worn off, it’s very faint. While I’d recommend Fanta Grapefruit to those who prefer the ultra-ambrosial, saccharine-soaked style of fizzy drinks, it’s just too cloying and cheap tasting for me to want to buy more in a hurry. I give it two and a half stars out of five.

Next on the table is Fanta Ume. This limited edition flavour was released in the spring so I’m a bit late to the game, but as of this writing the product is still on the shelves of every Japanese supermarket and konbini I’ve been to.

fanta ume

For those not as familiar with Japan, ume is the Japanese word for plum – more specifically the variety commonly known as the Chinese plum or Japanese apricot. I approached Fanta Ume with a healthy degree of respect because, unlike most of my coworkers, I’m not at all a fan of umeboshi, the pickled and dried plums which are so often a staple of the traditional bento lunch box. They’re normally flavoured with salt on top of that, and so are extremely sour and not meant to be eaten on their own (usually small bits of it are peeled off and mixed with rice). I needn’t have worried however, since Fanta Ume carries only a hint of the bitterness of umeboshi, and is actually more reminiscent of the sweet umeshu liqueur that I’ve become rather fond of since coming to Japan. Unlike Fanta Grapefruit though, I didn’t get so much of the sickly-sweet backlash after the first few mouthfuls and quite happily downed the whole thing. While I still would have preferred a little more of a kick to it, Fanta Ume is surprisingly refreshing – easy enough to drink but with just enough tart tanginess to balance out the sugar. Four out of five stars for me.

Question of the post: Have you tried either Fanta Grapefruit or Fanta Ume, and if so, what did you think? If you haven’t tried them, would you do so if you easily could? (Personally I think they’re both better than grape, which I wasn’t even able to finish – although at least the commercial is funny.) And regardless of what country you live in, what’s your favourite Fanta flavour?

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12 thoughts on “Limited Edition Taste Testing: Fanta Grapefruit and Fanta Ume

  1. While I haven’t tried either, I think I could dig the Fanta Grapefruit. Ume not so much. If they’re still on sale though, I should probably try looking for these in some konbini around town so I can try ’em myself 🙂

    As for flavors in general, I really like Fanta Apple (or whatever the green one is!) – I used to drink it all the time when I was growing up in China, and I still remember how dejected I was when I discovered it was so hard to find in the US. Now that I’m here in Japan though, I’ve essentially substituted it with Melon Soda (which to me tastes pretty similar), which I now drink almost religiously, along with everything Calpis.

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    • I never tried Fanta Apple but it’s definitely something I’d snap up if we had it around here – green apple is one of my favourite flavours. I really like melon soda too (which luckily there is plenty of). 🙂

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  2. I’d probably drink a bit if someone else paid for them and I wasn’t expected to finish them. I think I might have had Grapefruit Fanta once, but my memory is fuzzy. I think it was ok? I’m not too keen on softdrink grapefruit in general, too bitter. My father likes it.

    I remember drinking Fanta grape about 14 years ago, purchased it at a store that sold everything double – two slices of pizza, two bottles of drink… I threw to the trash-bin 1.5 bottles of Fanta Grape.

    It was horrible.

    Israel had its own unique Fanta flavour a few years back, I don’t remember the flavour’s name, some obscure fruit, it was very interesting.

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  3. In India I don’t think we have anything that’s stuck around as long as the Fanta Orange. Although, we did have a limited edition flavor titled “Fanta Masala Orange” that EVERYBODY hated. It tasted just like it sounds: like someone dumped a few tablespoons of heavy spice into a regular bottle of Fanta Orange. I bought one by accident a couple years ago; I’m not fond of orange either but I was desperate for a drink and there wasn’t anything else available. I just tore the cap off without looking and took a deep draught, expecting cold sweetness. Nearly sprayed everyone in the vicinity when the masala registered. -_-

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    • Masala Orange sounds… interesting. If I ever saw some I’d probably try it out of a morbid curiosity, but I don’t imagine I’d like it! Actually though, I think my favourite flavour of Fanta is still just the plain old original orange.

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  5. I tried Ume when I was in Osaka in 2013 July. It was the best Fanta drink I’ve tasted by far. I really like it and wish it were still commercially available – especially as I’m in the UK!

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    • It’s definitely one of the best Fanta flavours I’ve tried so far. But yeah, it’s gone for good now I guess, regardless of whether you live in Japan or elsewhere.

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