Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Neuro Sun

To continue on with my reviews of Neuro products this week, today I will be discussing Neuro Sun. As I said in my previous review of Neuro Sonic, all of Neuro's drinks are very different, and each one has an intended nutritional purpose. Unlike Neuro Sonic, which was focused on boosting energy and cognitive ability, Neuro Sun is a very low calorie, non-carbonated beverage that is enriched with 250% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. Rather than creating a sort of multi-supplement elixir like the Sonic, Neuro has decided to dedicate their Sun formula almost entirely to delivering large concentrations of one important vitamin. 

The taste of Neuro Sun is also very different from the Sonic. Although the intended flavors of Neuro's drinks are not stated on the bottle, it is fairly clear that Sun is intended to taste like a piƱa colada. The pineapple and coconut tastes fit well with the theme, as the resulting flavor is reminiscent of the sorts of frozen cocktails that are often offered at the beach during the summer. Neuro Sun is sweetened with a combination of crystalline fructose and sucralose, which is mild and pleasant on the tongue, but results in a somewhat dry aftertaste. The taste of the sucralose in particular is apparent in the flavor of the drink, but it is relatively slight and does not really interefere with the overall enjoyability. 

On the whole, I like Neuro Sun a good bit. I think that it would have been a bit more interesting if had it been carbonated like the Sonic, but that is a pretty minor complaint. I don't know that Sun is my favorite of the Neuro drinks that I have tried so far, but it is still a strong beverage in its own right. And besides, it just feels wrong to criticize a beverage that delivers so much Vitamin D and still manages to taste great in the process. This one is definitely worth picking up sometime.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Citgo service station [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 14.5 fl. oz. [430mL]
Price: $2.50

Monday, May 28, 2012

Neuro Sonic

I have been searching for Neuro for quite some time now, and after I had just about given up on finding it in this part of the country, a nearby gas station suddenly started stocking a few of the flavors. From what I can tell so far, Neuro offers an exceptionally wide variety of very different and interesting products. Rather than sticking to one general theme like most soft drink companies (such as soda, energy drinks, relaxation beverages, etc.), Neuro has decided to just do all of them. Touting the label of "nutritional supplements" rather than "soft drinks," each of Neuro's products has a very different taste and function, and the variety between each offering is truly impressive. Because of this variety, my next few reviews will all be of Neuro products, but I shall start my sampling with Neuro Sonic. 

Neuro Sonic is Neuro's "energy drink." Each bottle contains a proprietary blend of energy-boosting supplements, along with 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12, and a surprisingly high 200% daily value of vitamin B6, among others. I have breifly discussed my strange immunity to these sorts of energy enhancers in previous posts, and the same remains true for Neuro Sonic. Although I did not really feel any noticeable boost in energy, I do just feel sort of good after drinking one, which is likely due to the large concentrations of vitamin B. In addition to the energy mixture, Neuro Sonic also includes several other nutritional supplements such as Phosphatidylserine and L-theanine that are said to help support memory and general cognition.

All of this is great, and it is actually very impressive that Neuro has managed to pack so many different supplements into one bottle, but these things are only important if the taste of the beverage actually makes you want to drink it. This is where things start to get a little shaky for Neuro Sonic, as I don't think that the flavor of the drink is likely to have universal appeal. Because there are so many vitamins and supplements in Neuro Sonic, the taste is quite complex and difficult to pin down, but the easiest comparison is that it tastes like chewing up an old-school Flinstones vitamin. While I really like this taste, I know that a lot of people don't, and it makes this a difficult drink to recommend without first "warning" people of the taste. is your warning: 

It tastes like a Flinstones vitamin. 

But you should drink it.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Citgo service station [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 14.5 fl. oz. [430mL]
Price: $2.50

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cheribundi Ginger Cherry Juice

Cheribundi's Ginger Cherry is a truly satisfying beverage. While I did enjoy the other juices that were recently sent to me by Cheribundi, the Ginger Cherry juice is just the thing that was needed to officially bump Cheribundi onto my list of favorite beverage companies.

The ginger cherry flavor is the closest thing to a perfect juice that I have had in the past few months. As with all of Cheribundi's other products, the ginger cherry's list of ingredients is refreshingly short: tart cherry juice, apple juice (from concentrate), ginger juice (ginger root, water), and natural flavor. And once more, this fresh and simple approach really shows through in the taste. The flavor is just right: a perfect combination of the tartness of fresh cherries and the aromatic bite of ginger. Many drinks that utilize natural ginger are often at least a bit overpowered by the strength of the root, which is fine if you like ginger. But if you are not a serious ginger fan, these drinks can easily be much too strong to enjoy. Cheribundi's Ginger Cherry, however, avoids these pitfalls entirely. The ginger is strong enough to be present and readily identifiable, but it does not overpower the other flavors in the slightest. The amount of ginger used in the drink works very well with the base of cherry and apple juices and creates an incredibly interesting and satisfying flavor that is tart, dry, sweet, and refreshing all at the same time. Cheribundi's specific combination of the cherry tartness on the tongue and the earthy ginger aroma on the palette is a tasty and unique sensation that I have never really experienced from a pre-packaged beverage before, and it is an experience that I hope to continue to have many more times in the future. 

While I personally enjoy ginger very much, it is exceedingly rare that I find a drink with a strong, natural ginger taste that I feel comfortable recommending to others without the added caveat of "but you have to like ginger." Cheribundi's Ginger Cherry juice may be the first all-natural ginger drink that I have tasted so far to earn such an unabashed recommendation, and I think that the value of that should largely speak for itself. Everyone should try this drink.    

Verdict: Highly recommended

Samples sent courtesy of CHERRYPHARM, Inc.
For more information about Cheribundi, visit their website.
Or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Cheribundi's Cocoa Cherry juice, and although I found the mixing of flavors to be a bit strange, I did enjoy it, overall. Since that review, Cheribundi has sent me a variety pack containing several of their other flavors: Tru Cherry, Skinny Cherry, and Ginger Cherry. I have finally had a chance to try all three of them, but in the interest of length, I will be saving the ginger cherry for my next review.

One of my only complaints with the Cocoa Cherry was the strange way that the chocolate and cherry mixed together. It was a bit hard to get a grip on the actual taste of the cherry juice with the chocolate "interfering" in the olfactory, so I was glad to see that Cheribundi included some of their Tru Cherry flavor in the sample pack, as it gave me an ample chance to realize how good their core offering is. The ingredients used in the Tru Cherry flavor are very simple: tart cherry juice, and apple juice from concentrate. There are no added sugars, fillers, preservatives, or anything else of the sort, and you can really tell in the taste. Each 8 oz. bottle contains the juice of 50 cherries, and the drink tastes mostly how you would expect: like freshly juiced cherries. Cherries are a naturally tart fruit, so it is only logical that Cheribundi's Tru Cherry is fairly tart, as well. However, the apple juice really helps a lot in cutting the tartness down to a more consistently enjoyable level without interfering with the natural taste of the cherries. While I do like the tart taste of fresh cherry juice, I often find it overwhelming and hard to handle after just a few sips. While I am sure that some would whine and complain that "it's not really 100% cherry juice," I think that Cheribundi really has the right idea with the added apple juice. The two juices are mixed very well, and the apple taste is fairly minor in light of the drink as a whole. Cheribundi's Tru Cherry juice is a wonderful approach to cherry juice, as it offers all of the positive elements of the taste of fresh cherries, while minimizing the tartness of the fruit that would normally make this sort of drink a bit inaccessible. It is very good, and I definitely recommend it.

Much like the Tru Cherry, Cheribundi's Skinny Cherry offering is another very straightforward cherry juice drink. The Skinny Cherry is different from the Tru Cherry in that it is a cherry juice cocktail rather than 100% cherry juice. However, the ingredients list is almost as simple: tart cherry juice, water, and Reb A (natural stevia leaf sweetener). In favor of offering fewer calories per serving, the Skinny Cherry is only 65% juice (due to the added water), and contains only 40 cherries per bottle. Additionally, Reb A is used to sweeten the beverage rather than apple juice. I was glad to see Reb A on the ingredients list, as it is potentially the only stevia variant that I actually like. It still lends the drink a tiny bit of that odd stevia aftertaste, but it is so minor that it is very easy to just overlook. All in all, the Skinny Cherry and Tru Cherry juices aren't vastly different in taste. Both of them have a strong cherry flavor with a single flavor additive to reduce the tartness, and although the Skinny Cherry does not contain apple juice, they are still too similar to draw any sort of truly meaningful comparison. The Skinny Cherry essentially just tastes like a more dilute and generally less powerful version of the Tru Cherry, so if you are looking for a tasty cherry juice that isn't too strong (or if you are watching your caloric intake), then the Skinny Cherry is an excellent alternative that sacrifices very little of the original taste. 

Overall, both of these are excellent drinks. If you are new to the superfruit beverage scene (or if you are just looking for a new one to try), Cheribundi's plain cherry juices are a great place to start. You will not be disappointed with either of these.

Verdict: Recommended

Samples sent courtesy of CHERRYPHARM, Inc.
For more information about Cheribundi, visit their website.
Or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Punjana Irish Breakfast Tea

I am, in general, a fan of Irish Breakfast tea. So I'm sure that you can imagine that I was excited to find this large bag of the stuff at Big Lots for such an affordable price (80 bags for $4.00). Unfortunately, my excitement was rather short lived, as Punjana's Irish Breakfast tea is a good bit too bitter for my tastes. Being a black tea, Irish Breakfast tea in general usually has a bit of bitter kick to it, and I have come to expect that when trying out different varieties. But Punjana's tea is just too bitter. When I first tried the tea, I just assumed that I had let the bag steep too long, so I tried again...multiple times, each time at a different time interval. However, none of them seemed to make much difference in the bitter flavor, even after a round of steeping the tea for only one minute. Each time I was met with the same overwhelming bitterness that hid most of the actual flavor of the tea.

Nothing that I did really seemed to help much, and although adding cream and sugar may have been a more immediate solution than repeatedly trying to fix the tea "properly," I decided just to skip the alterations and enjoy some Adagio Irish Breakfast tea, instead. I am generally of the opinion that if you have to dress a tea up to enjoy it, then it's probably safe to say that you just don't like that tea. 

So, if you like teas with very heavy tannins, then Punjana's Irish Breakfast tea may suit you just fine. But I can only handle so much bitterness in my tea, and as a result I unfortunately can not recommend this one.

Verdict: Not recommended

Purchased: Big Lots [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 80 tea bags
Price: $4.00 [discounted]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pom Tea

Although I am only just now getting around to reviewing it, I am actually quite familiar with Pom Tea. I have been enjoying it from time to time since it was released several years ago, and we even have a few of the old Pom Tea glasses in our cabinet that are still regularly reused. Unfortunately, I have been met with some difficulty in tracking down a bottle of Pom's Blackberry Tea in local (and less than local) stores. But I have, however, been able to find the Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea and the Peach Passsion White Tea without any difficulty, which I actually find a bit odd. In any case, I will just go ahead and start with the lychee green.

Pom's Pomegranate Lychee Green Tea is very good, and is surprisingly light and smooth, despite the green tea base. I love green tea, but it is usually not exactly the first thing that pops into mind when I think of cool, refreshing beverages. The first time that I ever had this tea, I had no idea how the tart juiciness of the pomegranate and the dry, aromatic nature of the lychee were going to work together. They seemed like conflicting flavors, but Pom has shown that they can be anything but. Although the flavors don't exactly meld together, they form a very interesting combination, with the pomegranate and green tea flavors settling heavily in the middle of the mouth and the lychee spreading towards the sides of the mouth and the back of the throat. Despite the general lack of mixing among the flavors, the drink sets up an extremely interesting "flavor environment" that is very unique and definitely worth experiencing.

The Peach Passion White Tea, on the other hand, is a totally different experience. The Peach Passion is good, but it is very busy. White tea already has a pretty delicate flavor, and adding three strong, pronounced fruits (pomegranate, peach, and passionfruit) on top of it makes the subtle taste of the tea very difficult to detect. The flavors of each of the three fruits are all very strong and tend to compete for dominance, ultimately melding into one strange flavor that reminds me a lot of chilled sake. This is a strange sensation to have when drinking a fruit-infused tea, but I actually don't mind it at all. Although, I do think that the drink would benefit from Pom maybe dropping one of the flavors and simplifying the formula a bit, I still think that the flavor as it is now still works, somehow. The drink definitely tastes a bit weird, but it is a good weird; the interesting sort of weird that leaves you a bit confused after each drink, while actively encouraging you to take another and try to figure it out. And then, before you know it, you have finished the whole thing.

Although the differences between the two teas make it somewhat hard to recommend one flavor over the other, I find it very impressive that Pom has managed to maintain one common, underlying structure in these two drinks while still creating two very different and unique experiences. This is a difficult thing to do, especially once a company starts to hit mass production. This is demonstrated repeatedly by the often tiresome "sameness" that permeates the product lines of many of the older and more established beverage companies, so it is definitely nice to see a company as expansive as Pom really making an effort to keep their drinks individual and unique. Although I personally prefer the pomegranate lychee green tea variety, both of these teas are definitely worth your money.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Bi-Lo [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 16 fl. oz. [473mL]
Price: $2.99

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spindrift Sparkling Blackberry

I recently reviewed Spindrift's grapefruit soda, and I liked it a good bit. I really like the natural, "fresh fruit" approach that Spindrift takes with their sodas, and I decided to give the blackberry variety a try, as well. Blackberries are fairly close to grapefruit on my list of favorite fruits, and I was excited to sample Spindrift's take on the fruit. 

Much like the grapefruit variety, the blackberry tastes very, very natural. But this is to be expected, as the drink is made with little more than whole, crushed blackberries and a bit of fresh lemon juice. This means that every element of the blackberry is present in the taste, even down to the slight bitterness of the core of the berry. As I have already said, I really like this approach to beverage production. Many companies (particularly in North America) seem primarily concerned with including only the sweet and "favorable" elements of each particular flavor in their beverages, and although many of these are still very good, there is often something sort of incomplete about the flavor, somehow. The bitter core of the blackberry is an important, unavoidable element of the flavor of eating a fresh berry, and I was absolutely delighted to find it included in the taste of Spindrift's Sparkling Blackberry soda. 

Also like the grapefruit, the taste and sweetness are very faint, like that of an Italian soda. This may be a bit of a turnoff to those who are accustomed to more Western-influenced sodas that are very heavy in both regards, but I find the lightness of Spindrift's drinks to be very refreshing and tasty. Overall, it's just a wonderful beverage from a wonderful company, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Spindrift's flavors in the future.

Verdict: Recommended

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lemmy Sparkling Lemonade

I have been sitting here for quite some time now trying to think of interesting things to say about Lemmy, and I have been met with a surprising amount of difficulty. Lemmy is an old-fashioned sparkling lemonade beverage that has, according to the bottle, been around since 1939. And...well...that's about it. There's really not much to say about it, other than the fact that it has one of the most horrifying product mascots that I've ever seen on a beverage label. I mean, maybe this sort of thing was effective back in the 1940's, and I understand the whole "retro" appeal, but the dated depiction of Lemmy's ravenous, sentient lemon is really just sort of creepy.

Good ol' fashioned nightmare fuel

As far as the taste goes, Lemmy really isn't bad. But it really isn't good, either. The taste is easy and light, and the level of sweetness is actually surprisingly mild for an "old fashioned" soda. But despite seeming to have many of the qualities that normally make a soft drink appealing, there is just something about Lemmy that falls flat. In fact, it is almost completely forgettable. There is nothing in particular that makes Lemmy stand out, and the flavor is so light that it seems almost a little bit unambitious. The lemon flavor is there, but only in pure taste; there are no other elements of natural lemon juice (sourness, acidity, tart sweetness, etc.) that I have come to enjoy in these sorts of beverages. Perhaps my lack of interest in Lemmy is due in part to the fact that I have been drinking so many strong, flavorful citrus drinks as of late, but I think that the bigger issue here is really that Lemmy is just too mild for my tastes.

Like I've already said, there is nothing wrong with Lemmy. It's not bad, and the very light flavor may appeal to those who want the taste of lemon without some of the bolder qualities. But there's no real reason to buy it over anything else. To me, the flavor was not strong enough to justify the sugar and calories. I would rather wait for something more flavorful and just drink water in the meantime. But despite all of this, I would still say that it's definitely worth a try. You may like it a lot better than I did. 

Just...try not to stare at the label for too long. It will consume you.

Verdict: Worth a try

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

Friday, May 4, 2012


A few months ago, I was introduced to Calpico when I decided to try the mango flavor. I ended up liking it a good bit, so I recently decided to go back to the store and give the original variety a shot. For the uninitiated, Calpico is a Japanese, milk-flavored, non-carbonated soft drink that tastes about as different from the American norm as it sounds. But this is a good sort of different; the sort of different that makes me wish that more big, American soft drink companies would start experimenting with adding more "unexpected" flavors into their beverages. 

Anyway, before I get into a rant about the tedious state of America's mainstream beverage market, let's talk about Calpico. Much like my previous experience with the mango variety, the regular Calpico has a taste that is sort of hard to describe. It definitely tastes like a milk beverage, but it is much thinner than most other drinks that have their roots in dairy. This is likely due to the usage of dry milk in the formula rather than unaltered, liquid milk. Although this does cause the drink to have a slightly dry aftertaste, I think that this was a great decision, as the resulting lightness of the liquid makes Calpico much more readily drinkable than many of its much thicker dairy-based relatives. As is accurately claimed on the front of the can, the drink is "refreshingly sweet and tangy." It is sweet without being overbearing or heavy (as many dairy-based things can often tend to be), and there is a hint of acidic bite to the flavor. Before trying Calpico, I would have simply assumed that combining acidic and milky tastes would have been a recipe for flavor disaster. But I would have been wrong, as the pairing actually works quite well. 

Now, I'm not sure that the above would remain true were the dairy to be any thicker. But that is not the case, and since it makes little sense to sit around on a beverage review blog analyzing what could have potentially been wrong with a drink, I will simply conclude by saying that as the drink stands, the balance and overall drinkability are very good. It's definitely different, and some may find it a bit too unusual for their tastes, but I like this one a lot, despite its very "sometimes drink" nature.

In other words, it is very good and you should try it.

Verdict: Recommended

Purchased: Asian Market [Greenwood, SC]
Size: 11.3 fl. oz. [335mL]
Price: Unfortunately, I don't remember. Somewhere between $0.99 and $1.50

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sanpellegrino Limonata

A few weeks ago, I gave Sanpellegrino's Pompelmo a very high recommendation. However, I was actually first introduced to Sanpellegrino's line of citrus beverages when I found a Limonata in a convenience store a couple of years ago, and I think that it's time that it shares in the glory of its delicious grapefruit relative.

I think at this point that it's safe for me to say that everything that Sanpellegrino makes is pretty much perfect.   If you like citrus at all, then any of their Italian sodas are almost guaranteed to please. That being said, the Limonata is definitely the most harsh of the flavors that I have tried so far (more on the other two flavors in a later review). But this harshness is actually a good thing, in my opinion. Sanpellegrino's Limonata is very tart and sour, and generally is just more closely related to the taste of actual lemon than most other things that I've had. This tartness may be a turn off to some, as it essentially just tastes like diluted, sparkling lemon juice, rather than the typically sweet and sour taste of most other lemonade drinks. The drink does have a bit of added sugar, but it tastes very sparse, and most of the sweetness is carried through by the fruit itself. I really like the brazen, natural flavor of Sanpellegrino Limonata, and if you like the taste of lemon and aren't afraid of a slightly more brutal and raw take on traditional lemonade, then this is definitely one to try out.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

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