Friday, July 29, 2011

No post again today. I will be posting an apology soon explaining my inconsistency with my reviews this summer.

I hope that everybody is having a great day, and I thank you again for your continued understanding as I try to sort some of my personal responsibilities out right now.

- Hayden

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tradition Barley Tea

I am a big fan of Tradition's teas. They make quality products, and I always get a little bit excited when I find a new kind of loose leaf tea sitting on the shelf in Tradition's definitive, glossy box. I was just recently introduced to barley tea for the first time a few weeks ago, and despite having initial hesitations about the concept, I found that I really like it. Naturally, when I found this during a routine trip to the Asian market, I seized the opportunity and grabbed a box off of the shelf.

For those unfamiliar with the product, the picture on the front of the box is actually a bit misleading, as the tea bags are not simply filled with barley grains as depicted in the image. Instead, each bag contains a fairly even mixture of barley grains and black tea leaves, as shown in the horribly lit photograph below. Some more traditional barley teas are prepared by simply stewing barley seeds in hot water to release the flavor, just as you would with "conventional" tea leaves. Tea bags containing ground barley seeds can also be found as a method of preparing individual servings of the tea. Ironically, Tradition has decided to break from the routine by combining the tastes of whole barley seeds and fresh black tea.

Tradition's barley tea has an excellent flavor. The black tea tastes very fresh, and the barley seeds add a slight grainy taste to the bitterness of the tea. Although barley does not have a particularly strong taste, its flavor is very distinct, and is certainly present amongst the black tea. This is a good thing, though, as the two stark flavors act as mellowing agents for each other, and both of their distinct aromas combine smoothly into one pleasantly mild and natural taste that leaves the palette feeling clean and refreshed.

Although I have a hard time imagining a tea-drinker not enjoying Tradition's barley tea, I would say that this may not be the drink for everybody. Those who do not enjoy the taste of natural, earthy grains are not likely to find great pleasure in this beverage. While I still encourage those who harbor hesitations towards the drink to give it a try, I'd definitely say try it before you buy it. I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of all sorts of grains, and I really found a lot to enjoy about this tea. I would say that it's one of my recent favorites, and I definitely offer it my recommendations.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Asian Market [Columbia, SC]
Size: 2.8 grams [20 bags/box]
Price: $3.49

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's post will be delayed until tomorrow. I apologize, but I have some business to attend to tonight that I unfortunately can't talk about here because it involves a surprise for a friend, and I will not be able to finish today's update as planned.

I apologize for the continued delays. Everything is sort of happening at once right now. Things should return to normal within the next couple of weeks.

See you back here tomorrow afternoon!



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Juicy Juice Sparkling Orange

Growing up as a child of the 1990's, I have a lot of fond memories of Juicy Juice. Juicy Juice was the thing to have when we were kids, and the company's pastel hued juice boxes were unarguably one of the best brands to find in one's lunchbox. From its relatively high lunch table trade value to its unrelenting support of the PBS Kids television network to its eternally catchy slogan - "Juicy Juice: 100% juice for 100% kids" - Juicy Juice was a mainstay in many of our pre-millennium childhood memories. I often find myself passing by these cherished boxes in various grocery stores and wishing that it was more socially acceptable for me to still purchase (and love) the things, but I usually just end up somberly resigning myself to spending my money on more "mature" beverages.

If any of you resonate with this feeling, then I have good news! Juicy Juice has recently released a new line of sparkling fruit beverages marketed to the general masses (not just children), and it's pretty great. I came across these during a trip to a local Wal-Mart, and quickly snatched them off of the shelf in a fit of what felt at the time like supreme victory.

Juicy Juice sparkling orange is a pretty tasty beverage. As always with Juicy Juice, sparkling orange is made with 100% natural orange juice with no added sugar. The orange taste is, as you would expect, very natural, although a bit dilute due to the addition of the carbonated water. This is a good thing, though, as the drink is more light and refreshing than a "proper" orange juice, and it is much easier to drink during times when a full-on orange juice is either too thick or is otherwise inappropriate (such as with certain types of food or on an empty stomach). Juicy Juice's sparkling orange does not contain pulp, and is a smooth and flavorful experience all the way to the end of the can.

Now, all that being said, there is nothing phenomenal about Juicy Juice sparkling orange. I have had things very similar to it before, and there is nothing in particular about Juicy Juice's product that makes it stand out against the rest. However, for me, there is some worth in being able to enjoy a childhood brand again without feeling like I am having a quarter-life crisis, and as a result I definitely seat Juicy Juice sparkling juice beverages with a solid recommendation. Those of you who remember growing up with Juicy Juice will likely find a lot to enjoy here, and I doubt that anyone else would take issue with the beverage. If you go in without ridiculous expectations for the drink, you are likely to be very satisfied by its refreshing simplicity.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Wal-Mart [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 8.4 fl. oz.
Price: $2.99 [4 pack]

Juicy Juice sparkling juice beverage is also available in apple and berry flavors.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I am going to have to do a terrible thing and postpone today's update again.

I am currently in the process of finding a new apartment, and between that, work, and preparing for the upcoming semester, I have been aggravatingly short on time as of late.

I apologize for the continued delays. Drinkable Review will return to its regular update schedule next week.

Thank you again,

- Hayden

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Due to an unexpected issue at work, I am not going to be able to write today's review during my lunch break as I had planned. I apologize for the delay, and I will post today's review on Friday along with Friday's review. I hope that everyone has a wonderful afternoon, and be sure to check back in for the double post at the end of the week.



Friday, July 8, 2011

Hi-Ball Energy: Wild Berry

I have been a fan of Hi-Ball energy for a while now, but I have never felt that it was imperative that I give my thoughts on the beverage, as it is fairly straightforward. While Hi-Ball is an energy drink, most of the flavors taste a lot like many other flavored and carbonated water beverages on the market. This is a good thing, of course, as Hi-Ball has managed to include the typical energy drink supplements (taurine, guarana, etc.) without including the horrible energy drink aftertaste. 

Being the only flavor of Hi-Ball that I have come across that has a distinct color (the rest of the flavors are completely clear), the wild berry variety definitely sticks out on the shelf when placed next to its more uniform family members. This obvious contrast inspired me to give the wild berry a try, and I am glad that I did, as it was the tipping point that sent Hi-Ball into review territory.

I want to start off this review by saying that I likely enjoyed the wild berry flavor so much because it brought back some vivid childhood memories of mine. While this clearly does not immediately make a beverage good, I do think that there is something to be said for a drink that induces a feeling of nostalgia in the consumer as he or she drinks it. Hi-Ball wild berry tastes, to me, like homemade popsicles. I don't know if any of you share in the memory, but I have very fond memories of me and my family freezing our own homemade, summer popsicles out of whatever juice was available in the refrigerator. This typically ended up being some sort of fruit cocktail, and I can still remember the anticipation that I used to feel as a child waiting for the liquid to solidify in the freezer.

Now, I am going to have to get specific here, as the flavoring of Hi-Ball wild berry reminds me of a very particular part of these popsicles. For those who have never made popsicles out of frozen juice, there is a phenomenon that occurs in which the "juice" portion of the juice tends to separate out a bit from the "ice" portion as the liquid freezes. The resulting popsicle is typically not as homogeneous as a commercial popsicle, and the juice flavoring can usually be sucked partially out of the ice, leaving behind pieces of ice that contain a watery, remnant version of the original flavor.

This, those chunks of soft, flaky ice flavored by the ghost of the original beverage, is what Hi-Ball wild berry tastes like. The berry flavoring is very light, almost as though it is diluted from its original intensity, but not in a manner that implies cheapness or corner-cutting. It is as though the drink is flavored perfectly with the essence of the source material, and the result is a crisp, delicious flavor with an enticing aftertaste that leaves you simultaneously satisfied and craving a little bit more. The flavor is mostly grape-like, with hints of other berry flavors in the background, but it is hard to accurately compare the taste to other beverages, as the subtle, "icy" effect described above hits the olfactory in a peculiar manner and occurs mostly in the back of the throat. The level of carbonation and the serving size are also just right, making Hi-Ball wild berry a great choice, overall.

I really enjoyed the wild berry variety of this long standing favorite of mine, even if the primary reason was the nostalgic reflection that it instilled in my mind. It is definitely an interesting and unique taste, and even though I know that not everybody will have the exact same experience with it as I did, it is definitely an easy beverage to recommend. Check this one out for sure, and please feel free to leave a comment below if this drink brings back similar memories for you if and when you are able to give it a try.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Whole Foods Market [Greenville, SC]
Size: 10 fl. oz. [296 mL]
Price: $1.79 [Discounted]

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crave Chocolate Milk

I picked up one of these delicious milks for the first time at a gas station on the way home from my recent trip to Washington D.C. I actually came very close to not buying it, as I already had something else in my hand in which I was not particularly interested, and Crave's aluminum bottle did not catch my eye until I was literally turning to move towards the register. Upon noticing the strangely sized container, the switch was quickly made, and what had been on the verge of becoming a lackluster and routine beverage experience ended up being a very satisfying purchase.

Crave, as it says on the bottle, is "a new chocolate milk with a bold chocolate taste." I just want to note here that I find it interesting that Crave considers itself both "new" and "original," but that is beside the point. Crave definitely hit the mark by describing the drink as having a bold chocolate taste. The drink is very, very chocolaty, and has a thicker consistency than most other products of its sort. The chocolate flavor is very rich, and the drink often tastes as though it is more chocolate than milk, which seems a little weird at first, but it is really not a bad thing at all. Crave's taste is very unique, especially considering the fact that most chocolate milk products are pretty straightforward and usually only differentiate slightly from the competition. Although Crave is not particularly refreshing in the literal sense, it is definitely a breath of fresh air in what had become a rather standardized market segment.

One thing that I did find odd about Crave is that, although it is a legitimate dairy product, it does not require refrigeration until after opening. I'm still not entirely sure how this is so, but they obviously could not sell something that does not meet standards, so this is not a large concern. As another note, crave recommends that you shake the product gently, and I have to recommend that you follow this advice. The contents are pressurized, and I speak from experience when I say that shaking too vigorously will cause the milk to spew out of the top of the bottle upon opening. Crave is available in both chocolate and strawberry-chocolate varieties. I have had both flavors, and it is hard  to say which one, if either, I prefer. They are both very good, and I think that it is safe to say that it really just comes down to your own personal tastes as to which one you should pick up first.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Big Lots [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355 mL]
Price: $1.00 [Discounted] 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jarritos Mexican Cola

Jarritos Mexican Cola is not my first foray into the world of Jarritos Mexican sodas. I have had several flavors of Jarritos before, and so far have been only moderately impressed by most of them. They're not bad, but they're not exactly fascinating, either. Until a few days ago, I was under the impression that Jarritos only did fruit flavored sodas, until I caught a glimpse of this one sitting on the shelf during a recent trip through a local grocery's Latin American foods aisle. 

I wasn't immediately certain of what makes a cola specifically "Mexican," but from the ingredients on the back, the only major difference that I could spot was the usage of natural sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. The cola flavor itself is not wildly different from that of any other typical brand of cola, but it does have a slightly unique balance, and although there is nothing about the drink that is especially indicative of Mexican heritage (aside from the labeling on the bottle, of course), the cola taste is strong and pronounced.

My only real problem with Jarritos's take on this age-old beverage is that it is too sweet. I am typically okay with varying levels of sweetness in the drinks that I try, and it is rare that a cola will be anything more than "almost too sweet," but this time I feel that the blatant statement is warranted: Jarritos Mexican Cola is just too sweet. The sweetness detracts from the strong taste of the cola, and distracts the overall experience. This is only worsened by the fact that the sweetness kicks in in the aftertaste, rather than on the palette, leaving a syrupy sensation in the back of the throat that completely overrides the cola.

All in all, Jarritos Mexican Cola is not a terrible beverage, it was just too sweet for my tastes. I did drink the whole thing, and I did really enjoy the taste of the cola, but I think that overly sweet aftertaste is enough to keep me from buying this one again in the future.

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 12 fl oz. [355 mL]
Price: $1.49