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Drinks for Kids

Japan With Kids - Forums: Shopping in Japan: Drinks for Kids
By Mina on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 10:30 am:

My child suffers from severe dehydration which becomes worse during winters, I give him lot of water at home. But unfortunately he does not drink water at school, please suggest some low sugar asparatame and other artificial sweetener free drinks he can have at school. Do tea based drinks have artificial stuff added in them?


By Kit on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 8:34 pm:

Dear Mina,
These days, there is word going around that drinks stored in plastic and/or aluminum cans can cause various problems, because of additives, dioxins, etc. Rumor or fact, I'm not sure, but I've always tried to avoid getting my son into the habit of relying on vending machines. This means I have to put some effort into it, and send him off with a thermos of mugi-cha (a variety of wheat tea), fresh lemonade, or mint tea. It might seem like a lot of trouble at first (and it does add to the weight of stuff he has to lug every day) but it seemed like the healthiest solution.

By Mina on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 1:55 pm:

dear kit, thanks for your message, how u make mint tea, is it yummy so that the kid is motivated to have it on his own. thanks

By Mina on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 12:13 am:
I found out that xylitol can be used as a natural low calorie alternative to sugar to prepare drinks for kids. Now where can I find it in Tokyo? Any leads anyone?

By Kit on Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 4:07 pm:

Dear Mina,
I know that xylitol is available in Japan -- it's in a lot of gum varieties sold in convenience stores -- but I'm not sure where to get the raw stuff. I have seen at National Azabu Supermarket packets of "Lankanto" (I'm not sure that's how you spell it) a plant-derived sweetener which I've heard is tasty and almost calorie-free.

For mint tea, try brewing a couple bags of Celestial Seasonings. This brand has a couple of fun variations -- I let my son choose--and there's also a spicy orange-flavored one that his friends like. I've sweetened the tea a little with orange juice sometimes, or brown sugar, but my son and his friends seem to like it without anything added (I mentioned offhand that it was the "adult way" to drink tea, and I guess the idea appealed).
Happy brewing!

By Janine Boyd on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 1:22 pm:

Hi, the email going around about dioxin in plastic drink bottles is the same one as lead in lipstick. Save Australian consumer affairs website to your favorites list for future reference. Like all major health threats, announcements that you hear via email.....all rubbish! Heres the link below, and keep filling those water bottles at home. Nothing more important than drinking water, fresh or heated or frozen

By Cornelia on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 10:35 am:

Thank you, Janine, for your de-bunking post. I have included two websites (both USA based) at the top of the right hand column of the Links We Like page at:
I highly encourage everyone to make some effort to check the validity of information that you might read or receive via email, especially if it seems to be circulating widely (you get more than one copy of it from different sources). Chances are it's an "urban myth". Janine, if you know a good website based in Australia that does the same thing, I would like to include it in the "links" page.

Oh, and my two cents on drinks for kids. Raising my daughter here in Japan has made it quite easy for me to keep her on water or "almost water" such as diluted teas. When I think of all the soda pop that kids imbibe back home it makes me cringe. Believe it or not, it is actually difficult to teach your kids to enjoy simple beverages when everywhere you go you are offered juice boxes, chocolate milk, and soda pop, even if you don't allow them at home.

Here in Japan it is the total opposite. The beverage served every day at my daughter's daycare once she started eating solid food was mugicha. This is made from roasted barley seeds steeped in water. The taste is lightly smokey flavored and refreshing. There is no caffeine contained in barley. The teas that are served cold like oolongcha are diluted and not bitter, so most children here also learn to drink these quite readily. For a while I put apple juice or milk on the menu once a day as energy booster or calcium supplement because she was so skinny, but recently my daughter herself has requested water only, and in the meantime she has filled in -- I can't see her ribs anymore. In addition, we save a bit when we eat out by drinking water instead of ordering drinks, so I think that may also have helped my daughter learn to enjoy water with her food. And in this country fortunately the restaurants don't expect us to order drinks if we don't want them.

By Cornelia on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 10:54 am:
Sorry Kit. I just re-read your post above where you describe mugi-cha as a variety of wheat. I didn't mean to sound contradictory. Mugi is one of those confusing Japanese words that is applied to many grass seeds (except rice?), but because of the popularity of wheat these days, we often assume it refers to wheat grain only. Here is a link that talks about mugicha and what exactly is in the drink. It includes a photo of a Japanese Mugicha product that you can buy. There are so many brands and so many different packagings, the picture itself is not so useful but the kanji writing is.
P.S. mugicha is found both with and without a hyphen on the internet, so try both in any further web research.

By Kit on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 4:01 pm:

Hey Cornelia--thanks for adding
that explanation of mugicha!
Actually, you described the tea
so well that I'm inspired to
make it again today.

And thanks to Janine for the
dioxin de-hoax. As
I wrote, I wasn't sure about
the rumor but I got the post
from a friend whose brother
tests water for a living. He
also claims that most bottled
water is a scam, too--no better
than the stuff that comes out of
the tap. He went on to tell my
friend that getting pet bottles
clean enough to safely reuse
them is very difficult because
of the narrow opening.

He may be totally wrong. Still,
given that this site is for kids
and I'm not a scientist, I
thought at the time that I'd
better ere on the side of
caution in my post. Did not
mean to perpetuate an urban
myth! Actually, come to think
of it, I've frozen leftovers in
plastic containers for years and
there's nothing wwwrorong
weeeeth meeee.

By Mina on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 7:45 pm:

is olong cha called just that in japanese?As I understand it is tea leaves based and is safe for children. Does it have caffeine?can anyone recommend a brand of olong cha which is natural and with no artificials added.

By Bridget Kihara on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 10:09 pm:

I understood that Oolon-cha has caffein in it. Migicha (barley tea) ނ@doesn't. Mugicha is what you often see Japanese kids drinking.

By Rachel Torimoto on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 10:57 am:

In the US, we supplement my son's eating (when he is not eating well) with a product called PediaSure. (They also offer one for adults called Ensure.) "In order to grow properly, your child needs adequate amounts of the right nutrients. That's why there's PediaSure - a
complete, balanced nutrition beverage."

Do any of you know if such a product, or something similar, is sold in Japan? We are having some issues with eating again with my 2 1/2 year old, and of course I didn't think to pack any to bring along.

Thanks in advance!

*in Tokyo for the next two months

By Willhemina Wahlin on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 11:50 am:

Hi everyone,

You all seem to take so much more time and effort in investigating these things than me!! Personally, I never give my child any soft drinks and even though he is almost 3, I still dilute juice (which is mostly always 100%).

As my husband is Japanese, we always have Barley tea or bancha or some other form of cold tea in the fridge, all of which my son loves, so there's no need to ever put sugar, fake sweeteners or anything else in any of his drinks.

I have to say though, in terms of fake sweetners I would be very careful giving them to children. After working in the natural health industry for a long time (I'm a massage therapist, but I also worked with naturopaths for years), I would say a good rule of thumb is to eat and drink foods in their most natural form possible. That means raw sugar, honey or none at all, organic, where possible, foods (try your local co-op, as they have a lot of good stuff delivered straight to your door - I use the Pal System, which have really nice foods and fruit and vegies), and a minimum of fried foods, fatty foods, salt (although a little sea salt is not so bad, but not too much) and white sugar. By far white sugar is the thing to keep your kids away from and I have found that this is much more difficult to do in Japan than Australia because (well, one, I can't read the labels) there seems to be sugar in nearly everything!!

Lastly, to Rachel, I really understand the whole 'not eating thing' because ALL children do that. Frustrating and aggravating, I know. I put it down to the fact that kids have a natural way of deciding when they don't wnat to eat because they don't need it as much. then, when they go through a growth spurt, they start wolfing it down again. I used to be really concerned by my son's eating, but now have chilled a bit more on it (not saying you're not chilled, of course!!), and he is perfectly healthy and growing well, and doesn't get sick too often - touch wood.

Lastly, a good thing to do, especially with summer coming on, is to get those bananas and strawberries that are starting to go bad, cut them up and put them in recycled shopping bags (cleanish ones) in the feezer. Them when they're frozen, in a blender put the fruit and just a bit of milk (or soymilk if you prefer) - you can blend this as is, or you can add a bit of honey and some yoghurt. If you don't put too much milk it comes out as nice, thick natural ice cream that is full of nutrients and kids LOVE IT! Try frozen blue berries too, they are really high in vitamin C.

Good luck with it!


By Steve B on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 12:27 pm:

We shore up our 2-year-old's
nutrition with "green smoothies"
after dinner. You can load the
drinks up with green veggies
selected to deliver whatever
nutrients you're concerned
about, pour in some juice (or
better yet fresh squeeze an
orange or lemon, which is a
perfect taste balance for a
carrot), add some B12 fortified
soy milk and blend with a few
ice cubes to chill.

The flavor is incredibly good,
sweet if you add a lot of juice,
and addicting. Plus, it packs a
knockout level of vitamins and
fiber. Our little guy is always
excited to get a green smoothie.
He thinks it's a dessert.

Here's a web site with some

If this link doesn't work, try a
search for "green smoothie

Our basic green smoothie recipe
using items available in Tokyo
is: a large handful of spinach,
a large clump of parsley, one
large banana, half a carrot,
about a cup of apple juice, a
cup or less of fortified soy
milk, plus any nifty greens we
find at the local store, like
broccoli or soy sprouts.

Add a few ice cubes, blend and
sit back in amazement as your
little one gulps down the treat.

Strawberries add a nice
sweetness, celery thins heavy
drinks, ginger refreshes, and
frozen raspberries (if you can
afford them) are out of this
world. Organic ingredients taste
better and do not contain the
negative impact of pesticides.
It's fun to experiment to find
what works, what you like and
what unfamiliar veggies taste
like. Best of all, it's
extremely vitamin-packed, full
of fiber and delicious.

By Willhemina Wahlin on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 2:21 pm:

Hi Steve,

That one is legendary!! I'm going to give it a go!! I especially like the idea of ginger (I'll have one of those myself!!!).

Thanks : )

By Steve B on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 - 2:48 pm:

I should have said, my little
guy gets his cupful and I get my
very large glass full!

Please post if you find some
yummy combinations.

I don't know if these will meet
your specific needs. But I would
think they would provide a solid
backup for the months you are


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