Hey Song Sarsaparilla - 黑松沙士
3.05 g sugar / oz.
In 1925 Mr. Wen-chi Chang noticed that a soda bottling plant near the Taipei railway station was for sale. With help from family, he purchased the plant and began bottling ramune sodas under the name "Fuji" to promote these local sodas to be of equal quality to the expensive imported drinks favored by the Japanese government which ruled Taiwan at that time. After expanding to a new production facility in 1931 the company adopted the name "Hey Song" or "black pine" soda. When the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1937 the company was seized by the Japanese government.
Hey Song was returned to private ownership and began bottling sodas again in 1946. While visiting Shanghai, Wen-chi Chang discovered American sarsaparilla sodas marketed at a pharmacy as a blood cleanser and fever reducer. With a few changes to the recipe, Hey Song Sarsaparilla was released in 1950. The drink was slow to sell a first, but its lower price compared to foreign drinks such as Coca-Cola (which began bottling in Taiwan in 1954) increased its popularity.
In Taiwan a household cure for a cold combines Sarsi drinks made with Mexican sarsaparilla root with salt or raw egg. In 1985, however, Sarsi's reputation as a healthful medicinal beverage was shaken after a consumer group reported the presence of carcinogenic safrole in the drink. The company recalled all cans from stores within three days and reformulated the recipe to make the drink safe.
At the Chungli bottling plant, a museum tells the story of Hey Song sodas, including vintage tin advertising signs and photos of promotions at parades and festivals in the 1960s. The company is still managed by descendants of the Chang family.
This is very sweet. Fruity and thin-tasting like other sarsaparillas. Lots of carbonation but not much lingering froth on top. When I poured it into a cup too quickly it spilled over onto the floor!
The sugary taste is like flowers. Its not the earthy rootiness of a root beer but the dusty and aromatic light spruce taste of a sarsaparilla.
I don't think I could drink a lot of it, just sip it slowly. Its pretty gooey sweet but there's an astringent herbal tea bitterness that helps hold the sugar back from overwhelming.
Carbonated Water (87%), Sucrose (6%), High Fructose Corn Syrup (6%), Antioxidant (E330), Caramel, Flavour.
Hey Song Corporation
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