Caffeine-free rush: Japan’s Taisho launches first botanical-based energy-boosting beverage

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The carbonated drinks will be sold under the Raizin brand, hard ginger (left) and fruity thunder (right) ©TaishoPharmaceuticalHoldings
The carbonated drinks will be sold under the Raizin brand, hard ginger (left) and fruity thunder (right) ©TaishoPharmaceuticalHoldings

Related tags Japan Energy drink Caffeine botanical NutraIngredients-Asia awards

Japan’s Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings has released Japan’s first caffeine-free energy drink containing the botanical ingredient, enXtra, which has been clinically proven to improve alertness and focus up to five hours with or without caffeine.

The carbonated drinks will be sold under the Raizin brand, and the two variants are hard ginger (ginger flavour) and fruity thunder (fruit flavour).

enXtra is manufactured by India-based Enovate Biolife which was awarded the NutraIngredients-Asia award​ in Ingredient of the Year (Sports Nutrition) last year. 

Science-backed performance

enXtra is extracted from the rhizome of the ginger plant Alpinia Galangal​ and has been backed by three clinical studies in several applications including sports nutrition, weight loss and cognitive care.

In one of the clinical studies​, 53 subjects were recruited and divided into four groups (placebo, enXtra, caffeine, enXtra with caffeine).

The enXtra group performed superior to other groups in terms of mental energy, focus and alertness.

In addition, the enXtra with caffeine group also performed well, even eliminating the side effects of caffeine. Rostum Irani from Enovate Biolife’s international business division said: “When enXtra was combined with caffeine, we found it prevented the negative caffeine crash. The positive aspect of caffeine, which is sustaining attention, was then enhanced for a period of five hours​.”

The Raizin energy drinks contain 150mg of enXtra per bottle (245mL), and zero calories.

Consumption in Japan

According to Nobuyuki Hiraga from Taisho Pharmaceutical’s corporate communications division, the energy drink market has been growing in recent years, attributed by higher consumption from the younger population.

Apart from the typical target groups of students, athletes, professionals who need the additional energy boost, Hiraga said energy drinks was becoming a trend “for various situations, such as during parties​.”

Traditionally, energy drinks contain stimulants, which is mainly caffeine, to boost mental and physical performance.

The company thinks replacing caffeine in energy drink, but keeping the stimulant function is important.

 “In Japan, overdose of caffeine is one of the social problems. By including the new ingredient (enXtra) instead of caffeine, we respond to the needs of consumers who are worried about taking too much caffeine,” ​Hiraga said.

The drinks also contain ginkgo biloba extract, deproteinized royal jelly, vitamins B2 and B6, amino acids such as histidine and isoleucine, and inositol.

The Raizin energy drinks are manufactured by Japan Foods Co, and will launch late March at convenience stores nationwide as well as via Amazon Japan.

It will retail at JPY 190 (USD1.70). The focus is currently on the domestic market, and there are no plans for overseas distribution.

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