The bitter and the sweet: a cultural comparison of non-alcoholic beverage consumption in Japan and Australia

Rebecca Suter, Caroline Miller, Timothy Gill, John Coveney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article is part of a broader interdisciplinary project investigating the historical, social, and cultural contexts behind individual and collective differences in taste and consumption. It offers a comparative historical study of nonalcoholic beverage (NAB) consumption in Australia and Japan. Australia and Japan are among the largest NAB consumers in the world, and they have a similar history of progression from brewed tea as the main beverage consumed at meals and between meals, to a widespread consumption of bottled beverages. Yet in the contemporary context, both consumer behavior and its impact on nutrition health differ significantly in the two countries. We compare the Australian case, where “soft drinks” are equated with sugar-sweetened beverages, seen as contributing to the global rise in obesity, with thecase of Japan, where sugar-sweetened sodas are widely available, but people also consume large amounts of cold bottled green teas and herbal teas, that are not just “sugarless” but are not sweet at all. We propose that comparing the NAB consumption cultures of Japan and Australia offers us valuable insight into the importance of the cultural dimension of consumption and nutrition health, and the need to consider it when formulating policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-346
Number of pages13
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2020


  • Australia
  • Japan
  • beverage consumption
  • black tea
  • food culture
  • green tea
  • nonalcoholic beverages
  • nutrition health
  • soft drinks
  • taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies

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