Sunday 28 February 2010

the Berry Company Acai juice drink

Made by: the berry juice company

Origin: UK

The Acai berry is the fruit of the Acai palm tree, which grows in Central and South America, from Belize to Peru. The tree prefers wet, swampy ground. The global demand for Acai berry products (pulp, juice etc) has risen sharply since the 1990s, due to the fruit's beneficial levels of antioxidants derived from polyphenols (the tannic and colouring compounds that give the berries their flavour profile and dark purple appearance).

This Acai juice drink is a matt purple colour. The intense purple fades towards the rim of the glass where it picks up a tawny colour. There is a plentiful sediment of fine Acai and Raspberry fruit particles in suspension, giving the colour an opacity. An unusual clear film develops on the surface of this drink as it settles.

Nosing this is like holding your head over a bubbling pot of mixed berry jam: Blackberry, raspberry and blackcurrant all stirred together. The heady scent of the various fruits has an attractive, juicy quality. Raspberry dominates here, and has a fine syrupy edge. There is a leafy, earthy note that makes its presence felt (reminds me of blueberry).

On the palate the red fruit makes the running, with a soft, billowing raspberry flavour up first and showing that syrupy style. The black fruits follow in support with plenty of jammy fruit to complete the picture. The fruit pulp gives a light texture to the drink, with the balance falling on the sweeter side.

A light juice drink that manages to satisfy, and leaves a pleasant trace of concentrated fruit in the aftertase.

Packaging claims: No artificial colours, no artificial preservatives, no sweeteners, in partnership with Heart Research UK

Ingredients: Water, Acai fruit pulp (20%), fruit extract concentrate, pressed raspberries (10%), natural flavour, citric acid, antioxidant ascorbic acid

Price: Should be about £1.50-£1.60 for a 330ml PET bottle, available from Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Department stores and health retailers nationwide

Tuesday 23 February 2010

San Pellegrino l'Aranciata Amara

San Pellegrino l'Aranciata AmaraMade by: San Pellegrino SpA

Origin: Italy

Imported into the UK by: Nestle Waters UK Ltd

The San Pellegrino spring is located in the town of San Pellegrino Terme, North of Bergamo, in the province of Lombardy, Italy. The official spring water bottling company was formed in 1899, and diversified into sparkling soft drinks as early as 1932. An Amara or bitter version of the orangeade was launched in 1949, to mark the company's 50th Anniversary.

The Amara is an intense, matt orange colour with yellow highlights, fading out to a clear watery rim at the very edge of the glass. There is a fine sediment of orange fruit in suspension, and the drink is steadily sparkling when poured out.

The primary aromas on the nose are warm and juicy; here we have freshly sliced Navel oranges with a drop or two or Grand Marnier. As the drink opens up in the glass the impression is much fuller, one of whole oranges: Zest, flesh, pips, even leaves...a whole orange grove. A sharper note suggests grapefruit.

'Amara' translates as 'bitter', and on the palate this really delivers. From an initial burst of mouthfilling, ripe orange flavour with a fresh acidity, there follows a long, controlled transformation to bitterness. The zesty bitter taste sensation, derived in part from Quinine (Chinona tree bark extract), is similar to the experience of eating Kumquats.

There is a lovely flavour concentration here, entirely refreshing and helped no doubt by the high juice content at 15.6%.

Amara is a uniquely invigorating, enlivening drink, and leaves a mouthwatering sensation behind. Within the overall balance, the palate is both stimulated by the acidity levels (felt on the sides of the tongue), and by the extraordinary bitterness (felt at the back of the tongue). The long finish is to be savoured.

Packaging claims: New formula with 30% more orange juice, no preservatives, no artificial colourings

Ingredients: Water, orange juice (15.6%), glucose-fructose syrup, sugar, carbon dioxide, acidity regulator citric acid, natural aromas, Chinona extract

Price: Should be about £0.80-£0.90 for a 330ml can, available from Italian delicatessens, specialist retailers and online

Thursday 18 February 2010

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Bundaberg Ginger BeerMade by: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks P/L

Origin: Australia

Imported into the UK by: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks UK Pty Ltd

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks have been making traditional soft drinks using natural ingredients since 1960. They are based in the town of Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. Due to overwhelming popular demand we present our review of perhaps their most well known product, the Bundaberg Ginger Beer...

This is a pale, cloudy off white colour. When poured out the drink is gently sparkling, translucent and with a light yellow tint to the colour.

The aroma is fresh, up front and citrussy at first, with a distinct lemon barley theme. The warmth of ginger follows some way behind. This is quite subtle and restrained for a ginger based drink, appetising and with a moist gingercake sweetness.

On to the palate, where citrus flavours (lemon and orange) and the light-medium body make a fresh, fluid impression. The ginger notes arrive in fine understated style, with a controlled force, and without the raw burn or aggression found in some ginger beers.

There is a long finish to this, with rolling ginger now and a subdued pepper bite, recalling more sweet fruit than fiery spice. As with its stablemate, this is a soft drink that clearly demonstrates what can be done with a dedication to quality ingredients and deft handling.

Packaging claims: Naturally brewed to be better, always cloudy, full of real ginger pieces, traditionally brewed, the natural flavours of ginger

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, ginger root, natural flavours, acid (citric acid), yeast, preservatives (E211, E202), antioxidant (E300)

Price: Should be about £1.40-£1.50 for a 340ml glass bottle, available from Waitrose and selected supermarkets, and specialist retailers

Monday 15 February 2010

Vita Coco 100% pure Coconut Water

Vita Coco 100% pure Coconut WaterMade by: Paraipaba Agroindustrial Ltda. (for All Market Inc.)

Origin: Brazil

Imported into the UK by: Marigold Health Foods Ltd

The rising tide of interest in coconut water, the natural juice of young (green) coconuts, has become something of a media phenomenon in the USA of late. Coconut Water is already a well-established health and hydration drink in Asia, Central and South America. We decided to find out what all the fuss is about...

Vita Coco is a pale, off white colour. The drink is still, translucent and contains a small amount of fine coconut particles floating in suspension.

The aromas on the nose are fairly challenging: Tropical fish tanks, warm pondweed, and a whiff of ripe Brie cheese all come to mind. There is something vegetal at work here, that carries a damp and 'closed' quality.

Moving to the taste, Vita Coco is at once fresh, softly textured, with a roundness on the palate and a delicate 'salty sweet' flavour. There is a nutty, green husk flavour next (reminds me of sugar cane or aloe vera) followed by a late burst of soft young coconut meat.

This drink has a long, satisfying aftertaste during which the experience takes shape, and the promise of having just drunk from a freshly opened coconut finally comes into focus.

Packaging claims: Like sticking a straw in a coconut, hydrate naturally, more electrolytes than leading sports drinks with 15 times the potassium, has more potassium than two bananas, 100% natural, the beauty of one ingredient

Ingredients: Natural Coconut Water

Price: Should be about £1.70 for a 330ml Tetra Pack carton, available from Selfridges & Co and health food stores

Friday 12 February 2010

Bundaberg Lemon Lime & Bitters

Bundaberg Lemon Lime & Bitters
Made by: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks P/L

Origin: Australia

Imported into the UK by: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks UK Pty Ltd

This sparkling soft drink is a pale pink colour, clear and bright, with fine bubbles that rise steadily to the surface from various points in the glass.

On the nose a deep lime aroma: Key lime pie, dusted with allspice, plus notes of ginger and quinine. This is very appetising. As with many lemon & lime drinks, the lemon struggles to compete with its more delicate freshness.

On the palate a juicy and nicely concentrated lime flavour, followed by soft cinnamon. Persistent, mouthwatering and with a lovely tart balance...this is refreshing stuff. The bitters flavours add a spicy dimension: Cloved orange, ginger and quinine. They bring a light bitterness with them, perfectly balanced between the sugar and citrus. The cinnamon note that made an early appearance now lingers on the finish.

Packaging claims: Naturally brewed to be better, crafted from real lemons and limes, [naturally brewed] from real herbs and tropical spices

Ingredients: Carbonated water, cane sugar, lime juice from concentrate (6.3%), bitters brew (4.8%) (water, cane sugar, tropical spices, gentian root, yeast), lemon juice from concentrate (0.8%), acid (citric acid), antioxidant (E300), flavour, colour (E120), preservatives (E211, E220)

Price: Should be about £1.40-£1.50 for a 340ml glass bottle, available from Waitrose and selected supermarkets, and specialist retailers

Friday 5 February 2010

Itsu Limeflower/ Zesty Orange Vitamin Water

Itsu Limeflower/ Zesty Orange Vitamin WaterMade by: Made under license

Origin: UK

This still Itsu drink is a pale lemon yellow colour, with a light green hue. The colour fades to a clear watery rim around the edge of the glass.

The aromas are very light and fleeting, lead by a citrus note. There is a glimpse of acacia, a trace of honey...the impression is of a heavily diluted cordial.

This is confirmed on the palate, with flavours that are dilute and ephemeral, unable to express themselves before disappearing. There was only time to detect a warm grassy note and a drop of orange oil, before water washes the palate clean and the drink ends in a short finish.

Packaging claims: Vitamin enriched water, zero fat and less than 60 calories, contains 50% of your RDA (vitamin & minerals), suitable for vegetarians

Ingredients: Still water, fruit extract, citric acid, bitter orange peel infusion, limeflower infusion, natural flavouring, minerals (zinc citrate deydrate, potassium iodide), vitamins (C, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid), natural colour (safflower and carrot)

Price: £1.50 for a 500ml PET bottle, available from branches of Itsu across London