I have seen Ginseng UP at most of the organic grocers that I have visited so far (and even some of the Asian markets), and have always wondered about it as I chose something else from the shelf. I finally decided to give one a try this past week, and although my curiosity has been satiated, I am starting to feel that ginseng really just does not make for a good beverage.
To start off positive, the flavor of the ginseng used in the beverage is very natural. It has a very dry, earthy ginseng taste, and it is clear that it is derived from organic ingredients. That, however, is about where the appeal stops. Ginseng UP is sweetened with fructose, which is fairly sweet and syrupy and doesn't really mix very well with the mild bitterness of the ginseng. The drink also has a bit of a thick taste, likely due to the heavier nature of the fructose (as opposed to sucrose). This thickness also causes the flavor to hang around in the aftertaste for quite some time, making the all around experience relatively unpleasant. Also, Ginseng UP promotes itself as a "100% Natural Soda," but it was barely carbonated at all. I will admit that I am a bit biased, as I tend to prefer my carbonated drinks as bubbly as possible (I like it to "bite" my mouth a little on the way down), but I don't think that anyone would consider this as carbonated as a soda should be. There is a chance that I may have somehow gotten one that had gone flat, but expecting carbonation and not really getting any is always a disappointing experience.
I like ginseng, and I couldn't finish this drink. That's not to say that nobody is going to like it, but I could not stomach the flavor and aftertaste for more than a few drinks. Ginseng UP is offered in a variety of other flavors, and perhaps some of the others are better, but based on my experience with this one, I think that it will probably be a while before I "try again." I think that if this drink had been unsweetened, it would have been a lot better. Ginseng has a very particular flavor that is only muddled by sweetening, and ginseng-based beverages are most often used as nutritional supplements, anyway. I don't know that sweetening is strictly necessary, and I think that a drink that simply emphasizes the very organic and earthy taste of the ginseng would be much easier to recommend.
Verdict: Not recommended
Purchased: Rosewood Market [Columbia, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355 mL]