Friday, March 30, 2012

Lehar Evervess

When I picked this drink up during a recent trip to a favorite Indian grocery store of mine, I wasn't really intending on reviewing it. The ingredients are comprised of only carbonated water and salt, making this seem like nothing more than a simple club soda. However, after giving it a try a few days ago, I think that even thought it is just carbonated water, it is still worth mentioning.

I actually really like plain carbonated water, so I don't mean to sound like it isn't worth talking about. In fact, to this day, I still consider Source Perrier to be my all-time favorite beverage. It's just something that I can always drink. I have never not been in the mood for a Perrier. However, although I do drink a lot of soda water, I generally don't talk about them here because there's usually just not enough to say that would differentiate potential reviews from each other. But I was surprised to find out that that's not the case with Lehar Evervess. There is nothing particularly shocking about Lehar; as I said before, it's just unflavored, carbonated water. But what really sets it apart is just how carbonated it is. This is probably one of the fizziest drinks that I have ever had in my life, which I actually found to be pretty exciting. I really like high carbonation, and it's kind of rare that you find something that has this much bite. At times, it almost felt like there were more bubbles in the bottle than there was liquid, and I found the sensation to be exceptionally refreshing. 

I hate to say it, but I think that Perrier may have a severe competitor in Lehar Evervess. Or at least, it would, if only Lehar Evervess was more readily available. If you can track one of these down, I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Spices of India [Columbia, SC]
Size: 10.6 fl oz [300mL]
Price: $0.99

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Magnolia Vanilla Lemonade

I was rather surprised when I found this in the store while shopping for groceries a few days ago. I'm not entirely sure why surprise was my immediate reaction, but I suppose that combining vanilla and lemon had simply never occurred to me before. In fact, the longer I think about it, the more I realize how few beverages (or foods, for that matter) that I have had that actually combine the two. I'm sure that I've had some drinks that contain both lemon and vanilla, but never as the lone, primary ingredients. 

That being said, I wasn't really sure what to anticipate from Magnolia's somewhat peculiar concept. But what I can be sure of is how well the flavors ended up working together. I often find that the amount of vanilla or vanilla flavoring used in vanilla-centric beverages often tends to make a lot of them taste unnecessarily sweet, but Magnolia has struck an almost perfect concentration. The taste of the vanilla is present, but light, and acts to cut some of the acidity of the all-natural lemonade. The lemonade itself is very good, but it definitely has that natural lemon tartness that can start to feel sort of caustic in larger quantities. Although I really liked this drink, I had to drink it in several small servings. I absolutely love natural juices, and there are very few flavors that I enjoy more than fresh citrus, but I really just couldn't handle much more than five ounces of Magnolia's Vanilla Lemonade at a time before my mouth started to feel dry and I had to cap the rest for later. And that's not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing; I just thought that it was worth mentioning.

Overall, I thought that this was a surprisingly good drink. The lemonade, although fairly tart, is quite tasty, and I really liked the addition of the vanilla. Magnolia's Vanilla Lemonade is a simple, yet unique twist on the traditional lemonade approah, and if you like either of the two flavors, this is definitely one to check out.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 16 fl oz [473mL]
Price: $1.79

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Crystal Light Mocktails: Peach Bellini and Pomtini

Kraft's very popular line of Crystal Light powdered drink mixes has recently seen the introduction of a new series of cocktail-themed varieties of their pitcher-sized drink mix packages. These "Mocktail" varieties were previously only available in Mojito, Margarita, and Appletini varieties, but for a limited time starting this April, the collection will be expanded to include the two new flavors pictured above: Peach Bellini and Pomtini. The flavors will be debuting on a new episode of NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice on March 25th (9:00 PM eastern time), in which contestants will compete to introduce the limited edition flavors to the market. In the meantime, however, I have the opportunity to offer some early thoughts on the two new flavors, as Kraft Foods has sent me a very thorough Mocktail-making sample kit, complete with everything needed to enjoy the upcoming spring season with a tasty supply of Crystal Light.

Kraft even included several of those most crucial cocktail umbrellas.

Peach Bellini

I have had a somewhat touchy history with peach flavoring in artificially sweetened drink mixes. I'm not sure what it is about peach flavoring in particular, but it has never seemed to mesh well with other artificial flavorings or sweeteners in these sorts of low-calorie drinks. Fortunately, Crystal Light's new Peach Bellini may be the drink to change all that, as I think that it is one of the first artificially flavored peach beverage that I have had that I have genuinely liked.

For those who were as unfamiliar with the term as I was before a quick internet search, a Bellini is a very popular Venician cocktail that consists of a mixture of sparkling wine and peach puree. Seeing that the Crystal Light version of this Italian favorite is an alcohol-free imitation of the drink, the wine taste isn't really there with any sort of significance. There are some other somewhat difficult to identify flavors mixed into the Bellini mocktail, but the only one that really stands out is the peach. Usually, this would worry me with artificial peach, but this peach flavoring is somehow less abrasive and chemical-esque than other peach imitations that I have had in the past. At first, I was tempted to say that this one tastes more like actual peach than others do, but I don't know that that's exactly right. It still tastes like the candy flavor that we have all come to accept as "peach," but it is lighter and less shockingly sweet than usual. In fact, it is actually quite pleasant and refreshing, although the drink does have a bit of a parching effect on the tongue (as is common of these sorts of powdered beverages) when consumed in larger quantities. The artificiality is definitely still noticeable in the taste, but it's not nearly as bothersome as in other drinks of the type, and the rather surprising mellowness of the peach makes the Peach Bellini variety a welcome addition to my refrigerator.

          Peach Bellini Verdict: Recommended


I want to go ahead and preface the following discussion by saying that I think that the Pomtini flavor may officially be my favorite variety of Crystal Light. I have had a lot of exposure to Crystal Light over the past couple of years, and I have tried quite a few flavors, but I had never really considered any of them as "the best" until I tried the Pomtini. It tastes unusually natural for a drink of its type, almost on par with something like an Ocean Spray cranberry juice. There are really very few hints of artificiality. The artificial sweetener taste is effectively absent from this one, and the pomegranate flavoring is actually fairly convincing. I have to be honest, though; I'm not entirely sure what exactly the "tini" part of the taste is supposed to be, as I really only taste the pomegranate. There is a slightly dry, citrus bite in the aftertaste, but not enough of one to indicate anything other than the fact that citric acid is included in the list of ingredients. But this is not to imply in any way that the straightforwardness of the Pomtini is a negative quality. In fact, I actually tend to prefer more singular artificial flavors, as I think that drinks that try to combine too many of them often just end up tasting busy and convoluted.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Pomtini, though, is how light the flavoring is. The drink is still sweet, but not as sweet as many other kinds of Crystal Light, and the flavor is one of the most subtle artificial flavorings that I have ever had. Pomegranate flavoring has really exploded onto the market recently, and there have been a lot of companies that have abused the novelty of the new flavor by cramming it into just about everything that they could get their hands on. I have had some very poorly flavored pomegranate mockeries over the past couple of years, and I have to say that I was a little bit nervous about trying the Pomtini at first. But I was happy to discover that Kraft has taken care to produce a light and refreshing artificial pomegranate beverage.

As much as I like Crystal Light, the flavorings can often still be a little bit too strong for me. I typically gauge the staying power of a beverage by how often I feel like I would be in the mood to drink it, and Crystal Light often falls into the category of "sometimes drinks." But the Pomtini is the exception to this rule. I feel like I could drink this fairly regularly and never really tire of it, which I think is one of the most telling factors of a satisfying beverage.

          Pomtini Verdict: Highly recommended

Overall, I really like Crystal Light's Mocktail selection. Although I was only sent the Peach Bellini and Pomtini varieties, I have already tried the Mojito and Margarita flavors and I like both of them, as well. I still have yet to try the Appletini variety, and I am waiting to do so before reviewing the core Mocktail offerings. However, in the meantime, be sure to pick up a container or two of both the Peach Bellini and Pomtini flavors. They will only be available while supplies last between April and June of this year, and they are definitely worth a look before the limited edition run is up.

Overall Verdict: Recommended

Samples provided courtesy of Kraft Foods, Inc.
For more information on Crystal Light or Crystal Light Mocktails, visit the website.
Or follow Crystal Light on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Special upcoming review

Hello, everyone.

I have a quick update about an upcoming review, but first and foremost, be sure to scroll down and read today's review of Sanpellegrino Pompelo.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick update notifying everyone that I will be posting a special Saturday review tomorrow of some new Crystal Light flavors that were recently sent to me by Kraft. Be sure to stop by the site tomorrow afternoon to check out Crystal Light's newest offerings, and have a wonderful Friday!

- Hayden

Sanpellegrino Pompelmo

As I'm sure many of you have realized by now, I absolutely love grapefruit. It is without a doubt one of my most favorite fruits, and I enjoy just about any drink or recipe that utilizes grapefruit in some way. That being said, I think that I may have found the greatest grapefruit product ever. Until just a few days ago, I was not even aware that Sanpellegrino made a grapefruit beverage. I have seen both the lemon and orange varieties in several different stores now, but for some reason I had assumed that that was where the flavors stopped. I was obviously incorrect, however, and finding the Pompelmo was a very exciting surprise.

Although Sanpellegrino's Pompelmo technically only contains 16% grapefruit juice from concentrate, the flavor is incontestably natural. I don't think that I have ever had a citrus beverage that manages to simultaneously be sweet and completely retain the original taste of the fruit. Despite the drink not being 100% grapefruit juice, it still tastes remarkably like a serving of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Rather than the sugar acting to cut the bitterness of the grapefruit, it seems to act in unison, causing the drink to be both bitter and sweet. Most of the grapefruit drinks that I have had in the past seem to feel the need to dampen the bitter taste of the grapefruit. While I do still like many of these drinks, the aromatic bitterness of grapefruit is one of the main reasons why I enjoy it so much, and it is nice to see a company that does not feel the need to hide it behind sweeteners and other flavors. 

This drink is just absolutely superb. Everything about it is just right, even down to the level of carbonation in the water. If you like grapefruit, or are a fan of natural, Italian-style sodas, then this is definitely one to pick up.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Total Wine and More [Greenville, SC]
Size: 11.15 fl oz [330mL]
Price: $4.99 [6-pack] 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What was supposed to be Touch Organic: Apricot White Tea

Well, I'm going out of town today, and I stayed up really late last night writing today's review. It was actually a really long review, too, but apparently when I tried to access the site through my iPad this morning to post the review, it just decided to wipe the draft clean, instead.

So, unfortunately, there won't be a review today. And, out of frustration, I may not be re-writing the one that was supposed to go up today any time soon. It took me two hours to write, and I don't know that I'll be able to get my thoughts about the drink down quite the same way again.

So I will see you all back here again on Friday.


- Hayden

Monday, March 19, 2012

Argo Tea: Charitea

This is the second Argo Tea variety that I have tried in the past couple of months, and I am happy to say that I now have enough data to officially regard Argo Tea as a favorite of Drinkable Review. I really like these drinks a lot, and I am eager to continue trying some of the other flavors. 

I spent a good bit of time talking about the fantastic bottle in the last Argo Tea review, so I'll steer clear of it this time by simply stating that the bottle is, in fact, still fantastic. However, what is inside of the bottle could not be more different. Argo Tea's Charitea is comprised of a relatively straightforward combination of hibiscus tea (just hibiscus and water), cane sugar, cherry juice, and vanilla flavoring. The hibiscus, cherry, and vanilla are all immediately evident in the drink, with the hibiscus and cherry tastes being more dominant than the vanilla. This strikes an excellent balance, though, as I think that vanilla works much, much better in the background rather than acting as a primary flavor. 

My only warning about the drink would be that the hibiscus flavor may be a bit strong for those who are not incredibly keen on botanical flavorings. If you fall into this group, I would recommend trying out one of the other varieties. Otherwise, there is really a lot to like here. Everything in the Charitea tastes very natural, and the added sugar really helps to bring the three seemingly disparate flavors together into a unique and interesting beverage that is quite easy to recommend.

And, as an added bonus, Argo Tea donates a portion of the proceeds each year from seasonal sales of the Charitea to various non-profit organizations. This season, they are partnered with the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental protection and sustainability organization in the United States. For more information on Argo Tea's charity involvement, feel free to visit the Charitea page of their website.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Whole Foods Market [Greenville, SC]
Size: 13.5 fl. oz. [400mL]
Price: $2.99

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dilmah Mint Ceylon Tea

Just a few weeks ago, I reviewed Dilmah's blackcurrant Ceylon tea, and I really liked it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to go back out and pick up a box of the mint Ceylon tea, as well. And, as I expected, this one is just as good as the last.

Dilmah really has a good thing going on here. The company's Ceylon tea is delicious, and the flavorings are perfectly balanced with the natural taste of the tea, making these some of the best flavored teas that I have ever had. The mint used in Dilmah's mint Ceylon tea is very carefully tailored to the flavor of the tea so as to not overpower the Ceylon taste. I've had my fair share of mint teas in the past, and while I've enjoyed most of them, I had simply grown accustomed to the mint drowning out the tea. In fact, this happens so often with mint infused teas that I had begun to assume that mint was just too strong a flavor to work in proper unison with the more subtle attributes and complexities of tea. But Dilamh's mint tea has proven me very wrong, as neither the tea nor the mint takes a primary role in this mixture. Rather, the two flavors mix together to create a rich and aromatic "third" flavor that fills the olfactory with hints of smooth, Sri Lankan excellence.

Like the blackcurrant tea (although radically different in just about every way), this tea is just great. I have been met with difficulty in trying to find a point of comparison for the drink, as I really haven't had anything else quite like it. It's somehow just different from the competition in a way that I can't exactly put my finger on. None of the mint teas that I've had in the past come close to the quality that Dilmah provides, and I wholeheartedly recommend that mint and/or tea enthusiasts track this one down and give it a try. 

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Big Lots [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 20 bags
Price: $2.00 [Discounted]

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Borojo: Pink Guava Passionfruit

Ever since Glaceu's success with Vitamin Water, I have noticed an overabundance of various "performance juices" appearing on store shelves. Although many of them are likely just attempts to cash in on a recent trend, I do like to give them a try, as they are often at least decent enough to enjoy and contain far fewer calories and much less sugar than the typical soft drink alternatives. Borojo was an immediately interesting one, though. The packaging was a little bit more colorful than the surrounding beverages, and the logo design really caught my attention. Furthermore, I had never heard of borojo superfruit before, and I was highly inclined to pick one of these up and go find out.

"Superfruits" have been increasing in popularity lately (particularly within the health foods community) because of their relatively high nutritional content. Typically, one is inclined to think of cranberries, acai berries, pomegranate, or one of the other more conventional fruits that are so frequently marketed as "super," but borojo is a little bit less well known. According to Wikipedia, borojo is a tropical fruit native to several select regions of Columbia and Ecuador. It has been shown to have high concentrations of several dietary like protein, calcium, and iron, to name a few. It is also believed to be a good source of various polyphenols, which - according to modern research on the topic - may or may not actually be relevant to your health.

I wasn't entirely sure to expect from Borojo besides some remotely tropical tasting juice. I'm usually not too big on tropical flavors, so I didn't initially have my expectations set too high. But I was pleasantly surprised by this drink. Unlike a lot of tropical fruit beverages, Borojo has a light flavor that is somehow simultaneously watery and very distinct. The taste sets in more in the back of the mouth than it does on the taste buds, and the aftertaste does not linger for very long at all, again defying most of my previous experience with tropical flavors. Borojo is certified organic (OTCO), and while it is additionally sweetened with cane juice, all of the flavors taste very natural in a "fresh squeezed" sort of way.

Although all of the flavors worked well together to produce a great tasting final product, I was a little concerned by the selection of fruits in this particular variety. Guava and passionfruit  both have very distinct and powerful tastes, and I'm afraid that I had a bit of a difficult time picking out the borojo amid the other rather strong flavors. This may have a lot to do with the fact that I have never had plain borojo fruit before, but I do think that the guava and the passionfruit may have been competing a bit too much with the base flavor. But overall, I still think that this is a great beverage. It's all-natural, filled with antioxidants and vitamins, low calorie and low sugar, and generally just very drinkable. Definitely check this one out if you have the chance.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Whole Foods Market [Greenville, SC]
Size: 16.9 fl. oz. [500mL]
Price: $2.69

Monday, March 12, 2012

Phillips Union Whiskey

It's somewhat rare that I get to review a liquor, as my "starving college student" budget generally prevents me buying many of them. And, when I do have the money to spare at the package store, I often find myself sticking with brands that I have tasted before. Phillips Union Whiskey, however, really jumped out at me among all of the other usual brands. The more modern design of the graphic and the sleek minimalism of the text on the bottle caught my attention immediately amid all of the other busy, embellished, old-fashioned whiskey labels. That's not to say that there is anything wrong with an embellished label, but there is something to be said for a product that makes an effort to be visually more obvious than the competition. So, I decided to give it a try.

And...I'm not really crazy about it. But I think that that has less to do with the whiskey itself and more to do with the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of straight whiskey in general. I like most other varieties of whiskey, particularly bourbon, rye, and Canadian whiskey, but for some reason there has just always been something about the "traditional" product that has never sat right with me. I think that, in some ways, it just tastes sweeter and heavier, and it is a lot harder for me to enjoy outside of certain sorts of cocktails.

That being said, I do think that Phillips Union is a better example of a standard whiskey than what I have had in the past, although I can't really handle much more than an ounce at a time. This may be due to the fact that it is a blend of bourbon and Canadian whiskeys, or the fact that it is one of Phillips Distilling Companies' more premium whiskey offerings. It does have that usual whiskey sweetness, but the taste is very smooth and somewhat more mild and pleasant in comparison to the more harsh flavorings of much of the competition. I actually didn't mind this whiskey as much as others that I've had, and I think that if I had to drink a more standard, general whiskey, this would probably be it. 

But I'd still much rather just have a good bourbon.

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Frugal's Package Store [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 1 Pint [375mL]
Price: $9.99

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sunlee Coconut Nectar

Despite my rather rocky history with coconut-centric drinks, I decided to ignore my better judgement and give this one a try anyway. I've never had a coconut nectar before, and although I'm not usually a big advocate of fruit nectars, I thought that it would only be fair to give it a chance. However, when I think of nectars, I usually think of something more thick and viscous. But Sunlee's Palms Juice Coconut Nectar is...different.

Instead of being thick and viscous like other nectars, this one is actually rather thin, which makes sense given how light natural coconut juice is. What's weird about this drink, however, has nothing to do with its viscosity. The taste is so unusual that it is really difficult to describe without utilizing comparisons. Although it does taste fairly "clean" and natural (which makes sense, given that the drink is entirely composed of coconut juice, aside from the 0.002% concentration of added preservatives), it has an almost overbearing sweetness that gives it a very heavy feel that is actually not that bad at first, but quickly becomes much too strange to consume in anything other than very small servings. The closest comparison that came to mind while I was drinking Sunlee's coconut concoction was the taste of the milk remaining after a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. It's a strange thing to have come to mind while drinking a beverage, but Sunlee's Palms Juice is a strange beverage.

I think that this one is worth the risk if you ever come across one. I'd recommend checking your local Asian market for a bottle. Even though I didn't particularly care for it (it was too strange and sweet for me to drink much of it at all), I think that the experience is interesting and unique enough that it is worth having at least once.

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Unknown Asian market [Spartanburg, SC]
Size: 12 fl. oz. [355mL]
Price: $0.99

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pom Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice

It has been quite some time since I have had a Pom Wonderful juice - since before I started this site, in fact. I had actually sort of forgotten what it tasted like in that five year interim, so trying it again last week was almost like a new experience all over again. I also decided to pick up one of Pom Wonderful's newer "Lite" versions to discuss in conjunction with the original juice.

For those unfamiliar with the brand, Pom Wonderful is actually a fairly straightforward beverage. The 100% Pomegranate juice is exactly what it claims to be: just pomegranate juice. I like pomegranate a good bit, and I find the juice to be quite tasty, but I often find that I have to take Pom Wonderful in more than one sitting. Although the juice is sweet, fruity, and tangy, it is also fairly tart, and I reached my limit at about halfway through the bottle. But I don't think that this is really a bad thing, as I got to enjoy it again later, rather than drinking it all in one go. But if you are like me and have a relatively low "tartness limit," then I wouldn't recommend drinking this one anywhere where you won't be able to adequately refrigerate the portion that you don't want. If you like all-natural, unsweetened fruit juices, then this is definitely one to check out.

The Lite Pom, on the other hand, is a lot easier to drink just as an "everyday" sort of beverage. Pom's line of "Lite" beverages are pomegranate juice cocktails that contain only about 50% pomegranate juice, with the rest being substituted by water and other natural fruit flavors. I tried the blackcurrant version, and I have to say that I really like it a lot. Although the pomegranate taste is less pronounced and overall less flavorful, it is also less tart and much easier to drink, and the added blackcurrant flavor gives the drink a feeling of medley that is both pleasant and refreshing. The Lite beverages are also significantly less expensive than their less derivative counterpart, so if you are just looking for a quick and tasty natural fruit beverage, Lite Pom is a great alternative. 

Overall, they are both excellent choices, and I would definitely recommend them to all natural juice connoisseurs. And, as an added note, I absolutely love the unique shape of the bottle. Although I do miss the days when these were bottled in glass...

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 16 fl. oz. [473mL]
Price: $3.99 [Pom Wonderful] and $2.69 [Lite Pom]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Great Value Liquid Drink Enhancer

I knew that it was only a matter of time before a rip-off of Kraft's MiO Liquid Water Enhancer was released into the market, and I am not particularly surprised that Wal-Mart is officially the first culprit. Store brand items are a fairly routine sight in our modern superstores, and, to be fair, Kraft was not the first company ever to release a liquid water enhancer. However, the store brand items found in today's stores are usually just generic versions of already generic and "non-ownable" products. No one company can own rice, for example, and it is perfectly legitimate for a grocery store to offer their own inexpensive variety of rice. However, something as specific as Kraft's MiO seems like it should be pretty far out of the purview of the generic repackaging machine. It seems inappropriate to copy such a distinct product, but apparently it is a task that is not beyond the reach of Wal-Mart's grasping claws.

There's no point in skirting the issue for the sake of objectivity here: Great Value's liquid water enhancer is one of the most blatant rip-offs that I've seen in a while. For all practical purposes, everything about this product is exactly the same as the original counterpart. Aside from some obvious minor differences in the shape and color of the bottle and the graphic on the label, everything is pretty much identical, even down to the ingredients and the number of servings per bottle. Even some of the flavors are the same, with Great Value even going as far as to offer two "energy" versions of the enhancer, as well as a vitamin-enhanced orange flavor. Honestly, it's just shameless, and I really want to dislike this product out of principal. But I can't, for one very good reason.


As much as I don't want to admit it, Great Value's grape flavored water enhancer is excellent. In fact, I would even risk saying that I like it better than most of the MiO flavors, aside from perhaps orange tangerine. I'm not entirely sure why I like Great Value's grape flavor so much, as it tastes like that artificial, candy-grape flavor that I usually don't like very much in beverages. But there's just something right about it. Great Value really nailed the formula. I also think that it might have something to do with the fact that I generally tend to enjoy singular artificial flavors as opposed to a mixture of various flavorings. I feel that as the complexity of an artificial taste increases, so does its apparent artificiality. In other words, individual artificial flavors just tend to not taste as artificial to me, somehow. 

So, like I said above, I don't want to offer my support of a product that is such an obvious abuse of reverse-engineering, but I can't deny that the grape flavor is pretty great. However, I still think that MiO is, on the whole, a better beverage. MiO's bottle is a lot more sturdy, and the lid closes much more securely, making it a safer choice if you intend to carry your enhancer around with you. Also, the variety of flavors offered by Kraft is better on average than Great Value's range (I've also tried Great Value's orange flavor, and it's not very good), and I feel like it's harder to go wrong when picking a MiO flavor. But still, as much as I hate to say it, give the grape a try.

Verdict: Worth a try

Purchased: Wal-Mart [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 1.62 fl. oz. [48mL, 24 servings per bottle]
Price: $2.68

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Wonderfarm Dragon Fruit Drink

When I found this on the shelf next to the Foco Pomegranate Juice that I reviewed several days ago, I was really excited to try it. I love dragon fruit, and this was the first time that I had ever seen just a plain dragon fruit drink that wasn't mixed into some greater juice concoction. However, after tasting it, I think that it may have been better off as a part of a larger recipe, after all. A very small part.

If my disappointment with Wonderfarm's dragon fruit offering is not already clear, I will make it plain now: I don't care for this drink. I'm not entirely sure what it is about this one that is so off-putting to my palate, as the overall flavor itself is not particularly offensive, but I think that one of the primary reasons may be that it doesn't really taste like dragon fruit. You can certainly sense remnants of what was once dragon fruit in the flavor, but the added water and sugar give the liquid a syrupy taste and consistency. The aftertaste is also very heavy, and lingers in the olfactory longer than I would have liked. Honestly, it's just too sweet. I think that the added sugar was the mistake here, as it seems to have turned the quiet, ephemeral taste of the dragon fruit into something else entirely.

There is dragon fruit pulp in the bottom of the can, which is a bit of a saving grace in this otherwise unappealing beverage, but if I really want to have that sort of interaction with dragon fruit, I'll just buy a dragon fruit. The chunks of fruit are tasty, and they do distract you a bit from the strange ambiance of the surrounding fluid, but having to drink the rest of the drink to get to them just isn't worth it.

Verdict: Not recommended

Purchased: Unkown Asian Market [Spartanburg, SC]
Size: 11.1 fl. oz. [330mL]
Price: $0.99

Temple of Heaven Gunpowder Green Tea

I have actually been wanting to try this tea for a while, but I was only ever able to find it in humongous quantities in the Asian markets local to me. While the size (and price risk) was not necessarily a problem in and of itself, my tea box has been dangerously full for the past several months, and not really having a place to store yet another large container of tea persuaded me to wait until a smaller container was available. And just a few weeks ago my patience was rewarded, as I found a much smaller box of the tea at an Asian market during one of my recent visits to Spartanburg.

For those who are as unaware as I was about what "gunpowder" green tea is, it is a specific form of green tea from China's Zhejiang Province. Each leaf is rolled into a small bead before drying, which gives the tea an appearance similar to that of the black powder used in early firearms. 

Although the tea was given its English nickname purely based on the aesthetics of the rolled leaves, rolling the tea leaves actually helps to prevent damage during handling, therefore allowing the leaves to keep more of their original flavor. Feel free to visit the Wikipedia entry for more relevant information about gunpowder tea. 

As far as the flavor goes, this tea is excellent. It has a pleasant, full-bodied aroma that is very flavorful and yet somehow a bit more mild than a lot of other green teas. I like green tea a good bit, but I have had varieties in the past that have a somewhat pungent aroma that ends up being a little bit too strong for my tastes. But that is certainly not so with this one. The flavor is delicate, fresh, and subtle in ways that others often aren't, while still being a definitive example of a high quality and authentic green tea. I really like this one a lot, and I definitely suggest that tea drinkers pick up a box.

Verdict: Highly recommended

Purchased: Unkown Asian Food Store [Spartanburg, SC]
Size: 250 grams
Price: $2.99