Time was, that noodle shops in South East Asia had a large kettle of cold Chinese tea on every table. Patrons could help themselves freely to this and drink without fear of contaminants. On the streets there were vendors selling fresh young coconuts and palm oil juice. Thankfully, those days are over, and now a trip to the 7-Eleven will present the person with a discerning palate with a fine choice of bottled water. Indeed, if you are going to a Thai 7-Eleven bottled water will be the only drink you can buy that does not contain massive amounts of refined cane sugar or saccharine.
We all know that it is against the law for a tourist to be seen on the streets without a plastic water bottle glued to the left hand. But did you know that many residents in Thailand are too stupid to spend a few thousand baht on a household water filter? This then, is your guide to Thailand's five best water in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.
1. Nestle's “Pure Life”
An outstandingly rich, spicy, and toothsome water that is sure to please and screams decadent old school H2O.
Nestle is a Swiss corporation that has ballooned into the world's largest food processing conglomerate. Nestle is responsible for Nescafe which is a vile tasting drink with no nutritional value that is made from the cheapest possible raw material (the Robusta bean). Very good advertising has enabled Nestle to convince the consuming public that this muck tastes good and that it is the fashionable thing to drink. Therefore, its not surprising they should go into the water business. Their advertising manages to convince the public that water which tastes of polyethylene terephthalate is pure, while water that tastes of water is not. The water in their water bottles costs virtually nothing. Just a small amount of electricity to pump the water from an artesian well. What you are paying for when you pay seven baht for a bottle of “Pure Life” is bottling, the bottle, transportation, retail expenses, and of course, Nestle's profits. The water itself will cost less 50 Satang (one US cent) if it comes from a limestone aquifer. Of course, if it comes out of a Bangkok sewer, filtration might cost slightly more.
2. Chang Drinking Water
Bright, exotic, earthy, with a supple, vibrant, dryish medium-to-full body and a silky wonderfully savory new world taste.
Chang has a subtle flavour. The first mouthful might taste very mild but soon the rich flavour of
polyethylene will delight your palate. The after-taste is strong and long lasting. The bottle itself is ergonomically well designed which will enable even a limp-wristed tourist to keep a firm grip on it. But we think Chang is best use as a dinner water. It makes a fine compliment to a frozen C.P. meal heated up in a microwave – a real gourmets delight.
3. Singha Drinking Water
Hedonist, richly flavored and super balanced. Tart with a crisp body and a warming, nuanced, long sour finish.
Strong and pungent this is definitely a man's water. After a hard game of rugby there is nothing like a few litres of Singha Drinking Water with the lads at the clubhouse. You will know that most the flavour of expensive Brandy and Whiskey comes from it being aged in oak barrels. Something similar happens with water, the longer it is left in the plastic the better it tastes. Heat helps with the maturation process. So, while you need a special refrigerator for wine, water is best stored in a car (especially if the car is left out in the sunlight).
Attractive aroma with a velvety, lively, medium-full body and a smooth finish. An amazingly delicious, complex, and satiny powerhouse.
Crystal is produced by Serm Suk. For decades this company has been importing Pepsi and putting it in bottles. Recently it occurred to management that this was rather silly. Why import a product which is 99.9% water, sugar, and carbon dioxide? Thailand still has some water, plenty of sugar from one of the world's most chemically intensive agro-industries, and plenty of carbon dioxide and polyethylene terephthalate from the petrochemical complex near Rayong. So they dropped Pepsi and started making their own cola called “Est”.
In another cathartic moment Serm Suk's management thought “Why bother buying all that sugar and carbon dioxide?” All you need to do is get a would-be actor, dress him up in a white lab coat and put him on the telly saying “this is good for you”. It really does not matter what “this” is, it could be horse piss or dogs' vomit, people will still buy it. Turns out that the cheapest thing you can put in a bottle is water, horse piss costs a lot more.
Bright, interesting, complex aroma with a satiny, vibrant medium-to-full body and a smooth, complex, medium relish. A vibrant, pure and complex water with great varietal character.
Namthip is part of the Coca-Cola conglomerate (the flagship of American good taste) and, believe it or not, pretends that it eco-friendly, because the empty bottle can be screwed up. Their executives say that buying this product will help to make “the world a better place” (which, presumably, means that filtered tap water is bad for the environment). A water for the ladies perhaps. You will find it on the Water List at fine restaurants, nothing like Namthip to compliment an elegant dinning experience.
So, you have enjoyed your delectable water, now what is to be done with the bottle? No problem in Chiang Mai just, throw your bottles (screwed up or otherwise) away in the forest. Then they get “recycled” into smog during forest fires and ultimately end up in the lungs of local residents (the bottles you can breath: “I love the smell of burning petrochemicals in the morning”). If you live on coast simply throw them in the sea where they can float round the Pacific for decades before they get chopped up by a ships propeller and swallowed by marine animals (fish, polyethylene and chips – yummy).