Friday, May 20, 2011

Nuun U Hydration: Tangerine Ginger

As someone who has never particularly fancied water enhancers in the past, I have been trying an unusual number of them lately. One of my more recent selections was one flavor from Nuun's U Hydration series of all-natural water enhancement products. The thing that intrigued me the most about U Hydration is that rather than being a powder or a liquid like other products of the same type, the flavoring is offered in tablet form. Using tablets in beverages is certainly not uncommon. Those suffering from indigestion (also known as "hangovers") have been utilizing tablets to combat discomfort for years, but there was something strange and outstanding about finding a package of tablets that functions specifically as a flavoring agent.

There are a few extra benefits from using U Hydration, such as added vitamins and electrolytes, but the primary purpose is, as one would expect, to enhance your water. U Hydration is definitely fun to use, and watching the tablet dissolve in the water has an almost disturbingly entrancing quality. When stopping to really think about it, it's not all that exciting in retrospect, but the tablet does sort of hop around in the bottle from the buoyant force of the water as chunks of the slab bubble away, and it managed to hold my attention for a while. However, I have noticed that the tab does not typically dissolve completely on it's own and a little bit of shaking towards the end is usually required.

The taste of U Hydration is actually a bit difficult to describe. I was fairly wary of the mixture at first, as it smells like liquid pharmaceutical antibiotics. Luckily, it does not taste like medication and instead has an easy taste that is light and refreshing. The tangerine and ginger both tasted fairly natural (as natural as solidified, powdered essence will allow), and the concoction is not very sweet, if at all. I wasn't sure whether to expect sweetness or not, and I unfortunately do not currently have the package with me to check, but the unsweetened approach was a nice surprise and definitely sets this product apart from its competitors. The added vitamins and electrolytes also gave the drink a faint "children's-chewable-vitamin-supplement" accent and acted as extra thirst quenching agents. 

Although I like U Hydration overall, and would most likely recommend it (granted, I can not yet speak for the other three flavors), there are a few problems. First off, while the tablets are interesting and different, they take a good bit longer to mix into the water, as the flavoring must take time to break apart rather than simply homogenizing into the mixture. Also, the tablets are a little big, and are likely not going to fit into most disposable water bottles. This is taken into consideration, and the tablets are recessed in the middle like many typical solid-body pills. This allows the tabs to be more easily broken by hand, but it is still just another step in a process that is already almost three times as long as those of competing products. 

Another big issue for me is the price. Each 16 tablet vial costs upwards of 8 dollars, which is a lot to commit to an unknown, multiple-serving product. I have had my share of unfavored expensive drinks, but for some reason it is much harder for me to risk the money on multi-serving products, as I always dread the guilt of disposing of an entire container of something. Luckily, my money was not wasted here, although I will say that it took me a long time to work up the nerve to risk this one.

I don't know that I will make U Hydration a regular purchasing habit in the future, but I am definitely glad that I finally decided to try it out. The taste is mild and pleasant, and if nothing else it is a unique and refreshing take on the water enhancer in a market full of sneeze-inducing powders.

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Earth Fare [Columbia, SC]
Size: 16 tablets [Each tablet makes one 16-17 oz. serving]
Price: $7.59

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