Friday, February 17, 2006

Hard Candy: Juntsuyu

There are some candy aficionados who turn up their noses at hard candy. Sure, they might think a candy cane is nice as decoration, but certainly not meant to be eaten and savored. I actually like hard candy a lot. I like Lifesavers (or did until they mucked around with the flavors in the standard five flavor roll), I like starlite mints, lemon drops and I love barley sugar candy. When I saw these at the Japanese market, I was hoping they were barley sugar, though it didn’t say that was part of the ingredients. In fact, I’m not sure what they are except for solidified, cello-wrapped heaven.

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These little morsels look like drops of honey. There are two flavors, the golden ones and the darker ones. I have no idea what flavor they are, but the dark ones taste like sweet black iced tea. The lighter ones taste like sweet sugar with a hint of jasmine. The little bottom of them forms a pentagon and has a little hole in it. There are virtually no air bubbles or voids anywhere in the candy, which makes them exceptionally smooth.

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The little cones (about one inch tall) fit nicely in the mouth and have no sharpness to them that can cut the roof of your mouth, which has always been the danger with cheap sour balls. These dissolve slowly and release a delicately sweet flavor across your mouth that will linger for hours after you eat them. They’re crunchable too, as I am prone to chewing up my hard candies. The black tea ones (which I’ve already eaten all of) have a strong tea flavor to them with not a hint of bitterness. The sweet aromatic jasmine in the light ones (or whatever flavor it might be) is clean and fresh.

For some reason these were strangely expensive. At $2.29 for a scant three and a half ounces, I’ve gone and gotten myself addicted to some pricey boiled sugar. The brand, Shirakiku, is known as a tea and snack brand in Japan and to many Americans who buy Japanese teas (like my favorite Genmaicha) and those seaweed rice crackers. I have not been able to find anything about this candy anywhere online, though it’s possible that the English word “juntsuyu” isn’t quite accurate (as is often the case with the American labels slapped on the back of these import packages). So if any of my sweet Japanese readers can help me figure out what these are, I’d be ever so grateful.

UPDATE 4/18/07: JBox is now carrying Juntsuyu (at my request, thankee-thankee). For the record, since I did this review I’ve eaten three more bags of these and also put them in the Christmas Stockings last year.

Name: Candy "Juntsuyu"
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Shirakiku
Place Purchased: Mitsuwa (Little Tokyo)
Price: $2.29
Size: 3.49 ounces
Calories per ounce: 86
Categories: Hard Candy, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:40 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. I used to eat this candy all the time when I was younger… it was a favorite of my mom, who is Japanese.  I asked her and she said that “Jun” definitely means “pure”, but she wasn’t sure about “tsuyu” (i talked to her over the phone so maybe she couldn’t hear me pronounce it).  At first she thought maybe it was “to” or “toh” which I think means sweet?  But I think maybe “tsuyu” actually means “rainy season”.

    i think this candy is supposed to be (or used to be) pure raw sugar candy which is probably why it is labeled with “jun”.  I don’t read japanese though, so i’m only going from the translation.

    Comment by Bryan on 2/17/06 at 11:01 am #
  2. Tsuyu here means dew, and Bryan is right about jun = pure, so sadly the name doesn’t really give much info on what exactly they are. ^_^;; It does say koucha on the front, though, and koucha is Western tea (as in not green, Japanese tea)). I don’t know if that’s the same as black tea? I don’t drink tea at all… Also up by the UHA it says like “taste of sugar”.

    Comment by Grace on 2/17/06 at 3:33 pm #
  3. Any ideas on where I could fine these little beauties online?

    Comment by Kat on 2/17/06 at 4:19 pm #
  4. Wow, I’m so tempted to go to the Asian grocery and start prowling around for obscure Japanese candy after reading that review -_-.

    I just discovered candyblog and I’m really enjoying it, unfortunately I am someone who has to watch my calorie intake and can’t eat too much candy (grrr!), but being able to read so much entertaining commentary on the subject definitely mitigates the situation^^. Thanks Ms. Cybele!

    Comment by Karen on 2/18/06 at 8:13 am #
  5. Cybele's avatar

    Bryan & Grace - thanks for the translation help. I guess it’s pretty much just called “candy”. I like the idea of it being sugar dew drops though, it kind of fits with the shape and taste.

    Kat - I’m sorry I’m not more helpful in figuring out how to get a hold of these ... I’m definitely keeping my eyes out though!

    Karen - hopefully for those on calorie restricted diets I’m providing a service so that you don’t waste your discretionary budget on inferior sweets - there’s nothing worse than saving up and having a disappointing experience. Of course I’m not the final arbiter of good taste, only my taste. If nothing else, it’s eye candy!

    Thanks for reading!

    Comment by Cybele on 2/18/06 at 11:29 am #
  6. The kanji on the package says “Pure Dew.”  (according to my kanji dictionary) smile

    Comment by Tindy on 2/20/06 at 2:24 pm #
  7. i’ve been checking this page frequently lately (found it on my search for info about choxie), and since i’m such a loser i literally spent hours trying to find out something else about this candy.  sadly, this is all i could find: http://www.uha-mikakuto.co.jp/english/pro/candy/02.html

    i looked for stores online that sell it, and i can’t find any!

    Comment by erin on 2/21/06 at 5:16 pm #
  8. Cybele's avatar

    erin - that’s the stuff!

    Dang, I can’t find anything either and I have TWO pieces left. Oops, make that one.

    Maybe they’ll google themselves and find out that I love it so much they should make an export version and sell it at every drug store and grocer and make everyone very happy. (Or maybe one of my advertisers will try to distribute it ... hint, hint.)

    At least now I know that the translation on the import label was accurate (often they’re not).

    Thanks for your help!

    Comment by Cybele on 2/21/06 at 5:27 pm #
  9. my god, do I want to try these.

    well i’ll check the one small asian market nearby and hope and pray they have them. If not I can at least stock up on Pockys. grin

    Comment by Anthony on 2/24/06 at 3:15 pm #
  10. Wow, I used to love those as a kid!  They used to be one of those mythical candies I used to tell friends about.  Just the cleanest hit of flavored sugar you’ll likely find.  Pleasantly surprised at how many foreign products you review. You’ve got a great blog - keep it up.  candy=smiles

    Comment by stash on 2/27/06 at 5:54 pm #
  11. I found the website to buy the candy.
    http://www.maruwa.com
    The company that makes it is OGONTOH.  Pure cane sugar candy. It’s exactly as I remembered as a child.  A piece of heaven.

    Comment by Dina on 8/23/06 at 5:01 pm #
  12. Cybele's avatar

    Thanks Dina ... I almost bought them but was lucky enough to find the Juntsuyu above restocked at my Japanese market.

    Comment by Cybele on 8/27/06 at 12:03 pm #
  13. These look like the most similar thing to what I have been searching for.  In Italy 2 years ago I had a black tea flavored hard candy named Tea Dry.  Your description of the black tea flavored drops in this product matches my experience with what I had.  I can’t find anything like it in the US. They are quite good

    Comment by Wendy on 11/04/06 at 5:31 am #
  14. Hey, I tried going to http://www.maruwa.com and searched for this candy and couldn’t find it, could you give me a more detailed link or am I not looking in the right place?

    Comment by David on 11/07/06 at 10:02 pm #
  15. i actually ordered these from the maruwa website (they’re under candy and only labeled as “ogontoh”) although I’d recommend buying some other items while you’re at it since the shipping was a bit much. I’m also going to see if my favorite, not so local, Japanese market has these! they’re so addicting!

    Comment by Erica on 11/15/06 at 8:38 am #
  16. Thanks alot for the help Erica!!  Do you have any other recommendations on what kind of other candy to buy from the maruwa website?

    Comment by David on 11/15/06 at 3:26 pm #
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