Aojiru (lit. “green drink”) is a nutritional kale based drink found in Japan and enjoyed for its health benefits.
Aojiru was created by Dr. Endo Nira in 1943 in an attempt to help battle malnutrition after his son and wife both fell sick. His original recipe used various green herbs and plants, but in 1949 he discovered the nutritional benefits of kale and that it could be cultivated year round. He introduced it to the hospital he worked at, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that aojiru really took off.
Kale is famously bitter, and many people found the drink to be hard to handle. Q’Sai, a producer of aojiru, even used the popular marketing strategy: “Disgusting! I’ll have another!”. This became the famous tag line for aojiru, voiced by actor Yana Noburo (seriously, look up the commercials, they are great). This turned aojiru’s greatest weakness into its strongest marketing point.
In 2017 and 2018, aojiru attracted a new audience, and was found in pop-up cafes in popular parts of Tokyo. By adding in fruit juices, soy milk, and other ingredients, the famously bitter beverage was turned into a healthy and trendy drink that could be enjoyed by a whole new generation.
Aojiru can also be found in powder or tablet forms, but I recommend trying a fresh locally-made version in the refrigerator section.
About the author:
Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen. Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!