Amateur scientist and aptly-named clergyman Joseph Priestly could not have imagined the gift he gave humanity when, in 1767, he stumbled upon a method of carbonating water with sulfuric acid and chalk. Soda water, as his concoction was called, spread throughout the globe, first due to belief that it could cure disease, and later because of how delightful it was to sip when sweetened and flavored with everything from masala mixes to birch sap.
For the modern-day traveler, soft drinks can serve as gateways to the distinct tastes that define a region’s cuisine. In the country of Georgia, no summer is complete without Tarkhuna, the neon-green soda that features tarragon, a cornerstone of Georgian cooking. Stop by the right vending machine in Japan and you can pick up a marble-plugged bottle of Ramune soda that tastes like takoyaki sauce, a sweet-and-savory condiment usually reserved for Osaka’s famous fried octopus balls. And the next time you’re in Trinidad, sample a can of Mauby soda, made from local Snakewood tree bark that gives it notes of root beer and an astringent aftertaste.
Even if you can’t make it to Japan, you can order a bottle or a can of many different bubbly wonders online and take a trip with every sip. Here are nine refreshing soft drinks brimming with the flavors of their respective homes.