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[Photographs: Meister]

If you think chugging vinegar is only good for washing down cayenne peppers on some kind of bizarre cleanse, then you've never taken a swig of the delicious, oddly refreshing flavored stuff found on convenience-store shelves all over East Asia. Now's the time to try drinking vinegar.

Especially popular in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, fruit- or honey-infused vinegars are often sipped after and between meals—not only for nose-tingling refreshment, but also to balance the pH levels in the imbiber's stomach, relieve stress and, in some cases, aid in weight loss (some studies have show that drinking vinegar while eating enhances how "full" a person feels).

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Who couldn't use "a new experience in love?"

But never mind all that: They just taste good. Whether drunk straight, added to seltzer or flat water, or mixed into cocktails (what's up, apple-vinegar-tini?), the sweet-sour combo is a delightfully unexpected little pop to your palate, especially after heavy or especially salty food. (Added bonus, not that you care: They're often very low in calories.)

Portland, Oregon's Pok Pok features a variety on their "no-proof" drinks menu, and will be selling them online soon. Until then, any Asian grocery is a good place to start. Check out the individual juice box–like packets from eFoodDepot.com (apple's my personal favorite) , or order a bottle, like this red-ginseng–flavored version, as a unique host or hostess gift.

About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook.

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