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[whitespace] Tasting Notes

A random sample from a glutted field

By Christina Waters

Sobe Wisdom In the curvaceous glass bottle, Wisdom is an acceptably sweet, refreshing orangeade blended with mango juice and the piquant finish of gotu kola, ginkgo and St. John's wort. With excellent flavor and a mere 110 calories per serving, it's one of the latest offspring of a family tree that descends from Arizona and South Beach. A popular line, though some--like Sobe's Green Tea--are too sweet for most adults. Grade: A-

Mi-Chi Sexual Energy Aimed squarely at the youth market, this one sports a good label design--lots of red with a prowling black panther, very suggestive. The implication is that if you drink this pineapple and grape juice drink--to which yohimbe, damiana and L-arginine have been added--you'll get laid. Tastes exactly like Hawaiian punch with added sugar water. Grade: D+

High Vibe Soul Shake From the hippie kitchens of Nub Circus comes this cloudy beige beverage that proclaims itself to be non-dairy and all organic. Tasting like soapy coconut with a cardboard finish, it's a very unattractive blend of oat syrup, date powder and a lot of herbal additives. The packaging of this PC liquid is in loud, artificial colors of purple and orange, with turquoise and chartreuse trim. Grade: D-

Oriental Magic Wisdom of the Ages borrows its nutritional themes from "past generations" of Aztecs, Chinese and Egyptians and markets some of the best-looking labels in the New Age bev biz. The product inside, even though it's fortified by gingko and ginseng, tastes like Koolaid mixed with ginger ale. Made by Geyser Beverage, this enhanced blend of mango, peach and apricot juices is a clear orange color. Inoffensive, but a far cry from what the overproduced label design suggests. Grade: C

Odwalla Superfood Odwalla, an industry leader who entered the vitamin-enhanced fresh juice market 20 years ago, makes this pale green spirulina delivery system. A liquid press of peach, mango, banana and apple, it has a grassy subtext thanks to spirulina blue-green algae. It tastes fresh and much better than an algae drink should--a satisfying crossover of surf and turf fruits, veggies and grains. Practically a meal. As always, Odwalla's brilliantly colored packaging and label design sets the standard. Grade: B+

Berry Bomb From the folks at XTZ Products comes this concoction of "ancient mystical herbs" that bears a family resemblance to snake oil. One of XTZ's Kola line, Berry Bomb is an acrid slosh that leans toward a cherry coke with a chemical aftertaste. The label on the brown glass bottle sports a big "X" designed to appeal to disaffected youth whose taste buds haven't yet kicked in. Grade: D-

Ultra Fuel From Twinlab comes this liquid hit of mega-carbohydrates intended for high-performance athletic and sports use. The taste is exactly like Tang that's been on the shelf for decades. Completely artificial tasting, bearing a distinct aroma of baby saliva. One of the foulest flavors imaginable. Grade: F

Red Bull Energy Drink High-test artificiality, with a hint of vanilla flavoring to mask the strident acetone taste and enough caffeine to light up Netscape. Undrinkably sweet and cloyingly metallic. Distinct finish of household cleaners and fabric softener. Liquid grossout. Grade: F-

Anti-Ox From Hansen's, folks whose drinkable carbonated fruit juice drinks prove that they should know better. Packaged in an eye-catching slender orange can with bold black lettering, this stuff is lousy with grape-seed extract. Anti-Ox contains Vitamins A, C and E, plus selenium and echinacea, but smells like mildew and warm lint. Easily one of the worst flavors we've ever tasted. Grade: F-

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From the November 10-17, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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