The weather continues blisteringly hot and the heat index has been hitting record highs of late – devastatingly record highs, if I may add, alas.
It’s times like these when I wish that Cebu would send over one of their best refreshment chains up north to us in Manila. Seriously, I’d do anything to have a Tubo Cane Juice kiosk somewhere within walking distance right now!
As its name suggests, TCJ’s stock in trade is sugarcane juice (Tag.: katas ng tubo). Sugarcane stalks are run through a mechanized press that crushes the sweet juice out of the hard, fibrous sticks. This liquid is a pale amber in color, surprisingly mild with regard to its sweetness considering what is produced when it gets reduced by heat into the familiar crystalline granules we use for cooking, baking, and sweetening our morning cup of caffeine. Each cup is pressed to order, thus ensuring the pristine quality of the end product. Poured over crushed ice as is, sugarcane juice is a delicious, revivifying drink with which to cool down.
But TCJ isn’t content with slaking the southern crowd’s thirst with plain sugarcane juice; oh, no, sir! To add value in terms of both taste and nutritional value, TCJ blends freshly-pressed cane juice with equally-fresh, equally just-squeezed juices to create a delicious line of refreshments. While I could have opted for a right-in-season mango infusion or sipped a superfood mix featuring milky-white and tangy guyabano (soursop), I needed something to soothe a throat that was threatening to ache along with a serious dose of Vitamin C. For that, I had to order the Ginger-Mansi.
Here, fresh root ginger is run through the same crush-and-extract procedure as the sugarcane. The resulting ginger presse is sharply aromatic, hinting at just how potent and pungent it will be if sampled straight. This is mixed with fresh cane juice and a good squeeze of fresh kalamansi lime, poured over ice (a large will set you back P 90.00 – not a bad deal as Manila juice bars tend to be a bit more expensive), and handed to you with a typically cheerful Cebuano smile by the staff at the counter.
To describe it is to say that it is, pretty much, a still [non-carbonated] version of ginger ale: bright and spicy, just fiery enough to wake up your tastebuds, just sweet enough to stave off the burn. The citrus tang of the lime cuts through and each sip is a soothing, harmonious blend.
Now, there are sugarcane juice kiosks here in Manila. However, these are few, tend to be far between, and rarely feature other flavors. Which begs this question from me: when does Manila get a TCJ franchise…or do I have to take another trip to the Queen City of the South for a sugarcane and ginger fix?
Tubo Cane Juice – Departures Lounge, Mactan Cebu International Airport, Pusok, Cebu