Trader Joe's Korean Roasted Barley Tea

Compared to a lot of places in the world, America isn't really a tea drinking kind of place. Well unless you count bubble tea. I think we're drinking a lot of bubble tea and whatever is cool at Starbucks these days. Oh and I guess sweet tea in the south, which you have to wonder - is it really tea? Or is it tea-based punch? Anyhoo, occasionally Trader Joe's comes out with a cool, new, "exotic" (it kind of has to be for TJ's shoppers to buy it...?) bottled tea. 

I've had Korean barley tea before - in teabag form as introduced by my college roommate. I loved that stuff. It had a toasted, grain-y flavor that was so warm and comforting during the winter. Also, years ago when I traveled to Korea, I recall some restaurants served Barley tea as the primary beverage instead of water. While that experience certainly doesn't make me an expert, it provides a frame of reference for this product. 

I think this is the paragraph that tells us that Trader Joe's not only traveled to Korea to extract this product for its consumer base but also did some learning to present factual information. Does this earn them the sticker of cultural competence? Y'all tell me. 

1) I have never once opened a bottled beverage only to dump it into a mug so I could heat it in the microwave. It is like buying TJ's canned coffee, dumping it into a mug, and microwaving it so I could have it hot. Can you do it? Sure but it's still rather strange to me. 

2) The internet has said this tastes like cheerio water, which I pretty much agree with. Does it taste like Korean barley tea? instinct and friends with more barley tea drinking experience say no.  Maybe it was barley tea at one point in time and at the time of bottling it has been diluted, or like the third or fourth pot of tea that has been rebrewed using the same tea bag. Who knows? 

3) I couldn't finish this bottle. It just..was not good. It wasn't grain-y or wholesome tasting, although it did have an herbal medicine kind of feel to it. Not suitable for hydration or for pleasure. 

4) $1.19 for this 520ml bottle. Definitely am not repurchasing and am not recommending. If you're on the market to try Korean barley tea, hit up a Korean grocery store or buy the tea bags off the internet. 

TL;DR: Trader Joe's Korean Roasted Barley Tea. When TJ's tries to introduce a staple of Korean cuisine and waters it down to suit the American palate....? 3 out of 10.