Über-unique flavors (Ginger, Apricot & Allspice anyone?) and two lower-calories options make Joia natural sodas our official darling. Available in 4-bottle packs, Joia’s bright, punchy packaging attracts natural shoppers, high-end restaurant patrons, and mixology geeks alike. So enamored were we with Joia sodas that founder Carleton Johnson caught us lurking near his booth more than once.
Forget those saccharin fruit-centered drinks. Zukay’s kvass stole our hearts. What’s kvass you ask? Russians traditionally make kvass by coaxing sourdough bread to ferment into a frothy, refreshing beverage. But Zukay ferments vegetables (think beets, carrots, cabbage, and squash) and then juices them into surprisingly palatable, health-promoting liquids. Our Eastern European grandmothers would be so proud!
Apart from having beautiful, eye-catching packaging, Clearly Kombucha’s carefully crafted concoction preserves digestive-health compounds such as acetic and gluconic acids. Even with toothsome flavors like Chai Cola and Strawberry Hibiscus, these sippers had a distinctly tart kombucha flavor—a welcome relief from the many overly sweet, tepid kombuchas we tasted at the show. It was, as their name suggests, unmistakably ‘booch.
This morning-meal-in-a-bottle impressed us not only because it contains Sambazon’s signature organic acai juice, but also because it incorporates ancient grains like chia, quinoa, and amaranth. Fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants abound in this scrumptious, satiating drink. Plus, it’s blended with strawberries and bananas, so it’s appealing to those with more traditional palates. Acai at it’s finest!
Turmeric was a hot spice at the show, but no food or beverage company leveraged it’s anti-inflammatory properties better than Turmeric Alive. Dubbed “yoga in a bottle”, Turmeric Alive combines turmeric with ayurvedic ingredients such as ginger, cardamom, lemon, and spearmint. Sweetened only with honey, agave, or coconut nectar, depending on the flavor. The result is a spicy sipper that invigorates—worthy for a post-Bikram refresh. We’re loving the front-of-package ingredient list as well.
Props to Honest Tea for launching a new no-calorie carbonated beverage at Expo West. Sweetened with a combination of erythritol and stevia, these bubbly delights are available in nostalgic tastes like Orange Pop and cherry Professor Fizz. The Root Beer flavor gains our endorsement for its USDA Organic seal.
This vitamin-packed effervescent powder gives Emergen-C a run for its money. Don’t believe me? Just compare the ingredients: other fizzy drink vitamin blends contain fructose, citric acid, and “natural” flavors; Green Tea + C incorporates green tea (obviously), chicory root fiber, acerola berry, coconut water powder, monk fruit, and sea minerals. Clean ingredients plus a bright, fresh flavor equals one kick-butt power pack.
Though this company may say “good-bai”, we say “hello”! We dig bai5 Molokai Coconut, a new flavor in their line of 5-calorie antioxidant infusions. Lightly sweetened with organic stevia and erythritol, bai incorporates coffeefruit—the casing surrounding the coffee bean—into all of their products. Plus, the Molokai Coconut has electrolytes. Perfect for refueling after a run on a hot summer’s day.
Just when we thought yerba mate couldn’t get any more exciting, we sampled a steaming cup from Top Leaf Yerba Mate. Of note is Santiago’s Reserve Blend: Yerba mate, Chinese licorice root, and vanilla bean morph into a tea that tastes unlike any yerba mate we’ve ever had. Rather than the mossy, acquired-taste mate we’re familiar with, the Reserve Blend has a pleasant and surprising earthy-sweet quality to it. This yerba mate is accessible to the non-mate drinker.
Almond milk is in! No worry of genetically modified ingredients combined with a fresh, nutty taste makes almond milk a smart choice—and it goes great with coffee. Califia Farms iced coffee blends have no dairy or soy, and combine almond milk (made from unroasted almonds for a smoother texture, we’re told), with Arabica coffee and B vitamins. And we wouldn’t mind having Califia’s sleek, almond-inspired bottle sitting in our fridge either.
We already liked Choice Organic Teas for their commitment to sourcing responsibly grown ingredients and collaboration with nonprofits (such as the Jane Goodall Institute). Now, there’s another reason to love Choice: The company recently partnered with Bastyr University, a renowned natural medicine college, for their new line of Wellness Teas. Specially formulated by master herbalists, these functional teas can help boost energy, foster a clear mind, promote sleep, and more. Plus, a portion of the tea’s proceeds will support scholarships at Bastyr University.
We scoured the show floor at Expo West 2013 to sleuth out the most superb natural sippers available. These beverages impressed us the most for their innovation, ingredients, and, of course, taste.