Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brief Hiatus

I want to apologize in advance, but there will be no review today. Drinkable Review will be in hiatus for the next two weeks while I try to nail down my work schedule for the new semester. I need to take a bit of a break from the review to allow myself some time to establish a rhythm with my schoolwork.

I recognize that my posts this summer were inconsistent at best, and I know that a lot of the posts that went up on the correct dates were still frequently late. However, this is my final semester of undergraduate work, and it is looking like it is going to be the most busy semester that I've ever faced. In order to set off on the right foot this time around, I will need a bit of uninterrupted time to figure out how I'm going to set up my routine so as to not fall behind.

Now, that being said, I do have some Crystal Light punch recipes that were sent to me by Kraft a few weeks ago. I was sent a sample of Crystal Light's natural lemonade with which to make the recipes, and I will be trying and posting each of them on the blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of next week.

I apologize for needing this sudden break from my posts, but the extra consideration of finding things to drink and review is a bit much on top of my school responsibilities right now. Once the semester is fully underway and I have an established cycle for getting my schoolwork done, I will be back to doing my reviews as regularly scheduled.

I thank you all in advance for your continued patience as I finish up my undergraduate degree, and be sure to check in next week for some tasty Crystal Light lemonade recipes.

- Hayden

Friday, August 26, 2011

Activate: Energy

As many of you likely know by now, I am a pretty big fan of flavored waters. I really like trying different takes on the infusion and/or flavoring process, and Activate immediately caught my attention on a recent trip through the grocery store. The double cap, square bottle design, and the transitioning color gradient on the label all gave the bottle a very eye-catching and effective shelf presence and, naturally, I decided to pick one up and see what it was all about.

After reading the back of the bottle to determine the function of the double-capped design, I realized that the second, upper cap is actually not a cap at all, but rather contains the vitamins and flavoring for the beverage. Activate has an interesting approach to flavored water in that the flavoring is kept separate from the water until the consumer is ready to drink the beverage. To release the flavoring, the user simply twists the upper cap clockwise until the seal inside the cap is broken and the flavoring powder is released into the water. After this is done, the bottom cap is unscrewed to open the beverage. 

Now, this was interesting enough for me to buy it on the spot, and the taste of the beverage is actually pretty good. The lemon-lime has a light, refreshing flavor, and although the aftertaste is a bit lingering, the flavor was very good overall. The real question on my mind, however, while purchasing the drink, was whether or not the separation of the flavoring and water made a noticeable difference. 

Unfortunately, the answer is "not really." The ingredients did seem to taste a little bit fresher, but only a little bit, and it did not really seem to have much effect on the overall taste of the drink in the long run. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the cap release mechanism, while it is interesting and different, actually hurt the drink a bit, as I had some issues with the mechanism retaining some of the flavored water during shaking and then dripping out onto my desk after taking the cap back off. This does not seem like the biggest problem in the world, but when one's desk is covered in important paper documents, a cap that leaks neon green liquid all over the place can be a serious issue. This could have been solved by not furiously shaking the beverage in between sips, but the fairly solid flavoring had a bad habit of partially settling out at the bottom of the drink, and I was left with no choice but to shake the drink periodically and simply be careful about where I pointed the cap afterwards. 

Aside from some design flaws, Activate: Energy is an interesting beverage with a fairly good overall flavor. However, the flavor was not all that different from the other drinks of its type, and some of the aforementioned design flaws actually kept me from having a smooth and enjoyable experience. The cap design is definitely different, and I would say that it is at least worth one try to say that you've experienced it, but I don't think that I would recommend this as a regular beverage. 

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Earth Fare [Columbia, SC]
Size: 16 fl. oz.
Price: $1.99

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Numi Organic Pu-Erh Tea

I am by no means an expert when it comes to pu-erh tea. However, the experiences that I have had with it have all been very good so far, and Numi's organic pu-erh is an excellent example. I must admit that, at first, I held on to this one for several days before actually working up the nerve to try it. The full opacity of the liquid and the thick layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle led me to believe that this was going to be a very strong beverage.

However, Numi was not nearly as strong as I originally thought that it might be. In fact, it was very mild and tasty and surprisingly refreshing. Pu-erh tea already has a very unique, earthy flavor, and Numi's organic take on the beverage tastes even more natural. Numi's pu-erh is sweetened, but only mildly so. I am accustomed to drinking pu-erh without sugar, but the amount of sweetening was just right and was subtle enough to add to the flavor without diminishing the taste of the tea. The residue at the bottom also added to the freshness of the taste, although I did have to keep shaking the drink between returns to the bottle to keep the particles distributed.

Despite my slight hesitations about the potential strength of the beverage, I enjoyed my experience with Numi very much. It is a very easy drink to recommend, particularly to tea drinkers, and I definitely want to try some of Numi's other flavors in the future.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: World Market [Columbia, SC]
Size: 12 fl.oz. [355 mL]
Price: $1.99

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nichol Kola

When I first found Nichol Kola sitting on the shelf of a local World Market, I was immediately excited and then disappointed by the bottle's label. I should have known not to be excited by the five cent "price tag" on the packaging, but some force inside of me was still disappointed upon discovering the true price of the beverage. Despite my childish disappointment, I still decided to give the soda a try, and I am very glad that I did. 

As you may have guessed, Nichol Kola is delicious. It has the taste of a more "old-fashioned" cola, in that the cola taste is a lot stronger and has a bit of a spicy kick in the aftertaste. Overall, there's really not much to say about Nichol Kola other than the fact that it is really just good. The cola taste is strong, without being syrupy or overbearing, and is sweet without being excessively so. I had no problem finishing a full serving of Nichol Kola, but was left satisfied by the end of the bottle. Although there are other colas that I prefer, Nichol Kola is definitely a top-of-the-list recommendation.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

Purchased: World Market [Columbia, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355 mL]
Price: $1.69

Friday, August 12, 2011


I have been searching for Drank for a long time now. I first heard about Drank over a year ago, and I have been fruitlessly scouring gas stations, convenience stores, and pharmacies ever since then in the hopes of finding a can of the elusive beverage. However, this past weekend, I finally found a gas station in Greenville, SC that carries the stuff, and I don't think that I have ever been more excited to see a drink sitting in a convenience store refrigerator.

Drank was, in a lot of ways, the first of its kind, as it was one of the first relaxation beverage to attain any sort of media acclaim in a market saturated with taurine-filled energy boosters. The beverage has developed a rather strong cult following since its release in 2008, and rightly so. Drank is both delicious and effective as a relaxation supplement, and is an all around very easy recommendation.

First and foremost, Drank is delicious. I was trying to figure out how to describe it to a friend of mine as I was drinking it last night, and the best description of the flavor that I could formulate was "gentle grape." Drank is grape flavored, but the taste, unlike most other grape-flavored soft drinks, is very subtle and light. Most grape-flavored drinks are heavy and overly-sweet, and I must admit that I was, at first, a bit worried about Drank only being available in grape. This worry was neutralized upon opening the can, as my olfactory was not met with the typical, sickeningly sweet aroma of "grape" flavoring. Although Drank does not taste like natural grape, the taste is subtle enough that the beverage does not overwhelm the senses, and is enjoyable all the way through. 

Drank uses a blend of rose hips, melatonin, and valerian root in their relaxation supplement, all of which are known for their relaxing and sometimes sleep-inducing properties. Although the beverage did not cause me extreme relaxation as its marketing suggests, it did do a fairly good job of bringing me down to a less heightened state. Many claim that the drink helps them sleep at night, and although Drank did not make me tired, I can certainly see how it would help somebody who is already somewhat tired reach a state of slumber more quickly than usual. Overall, I was very satisfied with the level of relaxation offered by Drank, as I enjoy the temporary "de-stressing" offered by relaxation beverages, but I often have difficulty making time for a drink that might exhaust me.

Drank is a wonderful beverage, and I can safely say that it was definitely worth the wait. My only complaint is that it can be pretty hard to find in stores, especially in the southeast. Other than that (and maybe even because of that), Drank is definitely a drink to try out. I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

Purchased: Raceway Station [Greenville, SC]
Size: 16 fl. oz. [473mL]
Price: $1.69

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pure Inventions Water Enhancer

Pure Inventions, a dietary nutrition company specializing in all natural liquid supplements, recently sent me two samples of their rather unique liquid water enhancer. Pure offers a wide variety of liquid dietary supplements, including green tea, fruit, and cocoa extract mixtures, among others. I have been trying a lot of different water enhancers lately, and I could tell as soon as I took the containers out of the package that there were several distinct things that set Pure's product apart from the rest.

First and foremost, I was somewhat startled by the weight of the containers as I lifted them out of the box. The vials are made of a very thick and high quality frosted glass that feels great to the touch. The vials feel like medical-grade pharmacy bottles, and they give the impression that they are very durable and would definitely survive being carried around in a handbag or backpack. The lids also screw on very tight, and there is no indication that they would leak under regular circumstances. 

One of the more interesting things about Pure's enhancer is the fact that the bottles use a built in medical-style dropper to administer the enhancer. The dropper allows for more precise servings, and is better than the more typical eye-dropper lid type in that it allows the consumer to add the liquid either quickly or drop-by-drop, depending on the amount desired. The dropper can also be used as an impromptu stirring rod to give the water a quick swirl to help homogenize the flavor. However, the dropper does have some drawbacks. Having to physically take something in and out of the container greatly increases the chance of accidentally dripping the flavoring outside of the bottle. This is something that a little care when serving won't solve, but it does cut down on its portability a bit. However, it should be noted here that Pure does not market their product as highly portable. It is a nutritional supplement, and is constructed to present itself as one. However, in a market segment full of competitors who frequently tout the "on-the-go" nature of their water enhancers as a major selling point, some consumers may view this lack of portability as a problem. 

The only other small complaint that I had about the functionality of Pure's enhancers was the dropper bulb. The directions for the green tea supplements call for one full dropper of enhancer per 8 ounces of water, but the suction of the dropper bulb is not quite strong enough to entirely fill the dropper. This is not a huge problem, as adding two half droppers is certainly easy enough, but it does leave the actual serving size between usages a bit ambiguous.

Overall, the taste of Pure's water enhancers is great. I was sent samples of the green tea with peach and cranberry with elderberry supplements, and I like both of them a good bit, although they are quite different. The green tea with peach is fairly straightforward, although it is very good. Pure uses all natural ingredients in their enhancers, and it really shows. The green tea extract manages to avoid the "instant tea" taste that is so common amongst tea flavored water enhancers, and tastes a lot more like real tea than most of the competition. The peach flavoring is a little bit more on the standardized, "this is peach flavoring" side, but it is still good, and adds an extra element of interest to the taste. I found the green tea with peach flavor to be very good, overall.

The cranberry and elderberry extract is a little bit more unconventional than the green tea extract, in that the entire cranberry is used, seeds and all. This gives the fruit extract supplements a more granular consistency, and allows for a little bit of sedimentation after mixing if the drink is allowed to sit still long enough. Using the whole berry also allows for a very accurate and natural taste, and the enhancer does taste pretty much like a mildly sweet, raw cranberry. The inclusion of the elderberry also adds an extra bit of interest to the flavoring, although my previous inexperience with elderberry makes it difficult to attest to exactly what the fruit adds to the taste. My only complaint with the cranberry extract is that it has a mildly strange aftertaste. It's not a bad aftertaste; just a bit dry and mildly bitter. It took me a few servings to warm up to the cranberry extract because of the lingering aftertaste, but after I became accustomed to it, I began to really like the flavor. 

Overall, I really like Pure Inventions' water enhancers. They are full of beneficial dietary supplements, and are very natural and straightforward, with no added sugar, preservatives, or artificial flavors. The only thing keeping me from giving Pure's supplements my full recommendation is the slight barrier of entry. The supplements are on the expensive side, with each bottle ranging between 30 to 45 dollars. In a market full of water enhancers that typically cost less than five dollars per box or bottle, it makes Pure's product a bit of a hard sell. However, it is important to keep in mind that each bottle contains approximately 60 servings, and that the price you pay for Pure's product also includes the superior quality of the container, the carefully engineered nutritional benefits of each mix of supplements, and the unmatched natural taste of the flavors. 

If you are in the market for a truly all-natural water enhancer and are willing to take the risk on the price, Pure Inventions' natural supplements are definitely worth trying out.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Samples sent courtesy of Pure Inventions
Size: Varies by flavor [2 - 4 fl. oz.]
Price: Varies by flavor [$30.75 - $44.95]

Check out pure inventions at www.pureinventions.com
Or follow them on facebook

Friday, August 5, 2011

Late again, late again

I realize that the excuses are getting quite tired at this point, but I am going to have to push today's review back to tomorrow afternoon. Obligations at work and a family event at home this evening are preventing me the opportunity to finish today's write-up until later this evening.

Again, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, and I thank you for your understanding as I deal with the scheduling chaos of preparing to head back to school for the fall semester.

So check back tomorrow for a rather exciting review of a uniquely high-end water enhancer sent to me by Pure Inventions.

Continued apologies and thanks again,


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lotte Chilsung Crushed Pear Beverage

On a bit of a whim, I thought that I would review something a little bit different today. I recently picked this up at an Asian market in town, and other than the two translated words on the front of the can and a website on the back with the domain suffix for South Korea, I have no idea what this is. Aside from the crushed pear, there is no indication as to what else, if anything, is in the drink. What I do know, however, is that this drink is delicious. The pear tastes very crisp and natural, although there is a slight candy twist in the aftertaste. Tiny pieces of the pear fruit from the crushing process are left suspended in the liquid, adding a very interesting texture to the beverage. It is a bit on the sweet side - almost like a thin pear nectar - but the small serving size is just satisfying enough to make the natural sweetness of the pear just right.

Overall, this is a great drink. I really enjoyed it, and I would definitely buy it again. It's an easy recommendation to make, and if you can find one, I would certainly suggest picking one up. That is, of course, assuming that you can actually find one.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Asian Market [Columbia, SC]
Size: 238 mL
Price: $0.99