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Turmeric Gloe: Blood Orange Flavor

A Little Drink with a lot of Labeling

When I first picked out this drink, I was expecting something else. The packaging is clear: TURMERIC in bold print and blood orange underneath. I was expecting a fizzy drink with body. The carbonation is strong—the kind that almost bubbles up behind your eyes after you drink it. There’s a definite blood orange flavor, but I was expecting spice—some kind of kick after the initial swallow. It never came. This drink is not bad. I think after suspending my expectations and just drinking it, I was able to enjoy. But that’s not the point.

With any beverage I drink, I like to read the label, parse out what the drink claims to be, then drink it and decide if the drink embodied that. Sometimes one drink can try to be too much. It’s 12 ounces. Can it really deliver everything the copy claims? And is it fair to put all of this pressure on one drink? In some cases, and in this case, no it isn’t fair. Turmeric—or tumeric, however you choose to spell it—has long been lauded as an ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties. The copy on the can acknowledges this, and states that there are 300 mg of turmeric in this beverage alone. At first I thought that was a lot. But it isn’t! In order to reap the benefits of anti-inflammation, you need about 500 to 1,000 mg a day. I guess on a broader spectrum, this one drink does have a lot of it, but not enough for anyone to actually feel or notice anti-inflammatory effects after drinking it. I want to note—nowhere on this can does it claim to cure consumers of inflammation—but it seems implied that drinking it will benefit you somehow. Maybe in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet or supplements it will. I can’t speak on that.

The drink is a pale yellow and the carbonation is strong—not the same strength as a soda, the way they almost muffle your breath when you drink from a glass—more like a gentle rolling carbonation. The blood orange taste is there, but not super powerful. More along the lines of a La Croix flavor presence than a Bubly flavor presence. It’s faint, and it’s there, but you can kind of feel the taste disappear from your mouth after you swallow. It doesn’t taste like blood orange though. I think with certain flavors, companies just say, “this is blood orange flavored,” and we’re supposed to say, “Oh, okay. This is blood orange flavored. You said so, and it’s true.” I guarantee that not enough people are drinking blood orange juice or eating blood oranges on such a regular basis that we could rally together and argue. Blood orange isn’t in that same category as apple, lemonade, or even just orange. Those are flavors we know enough about, in artificial or natural forms, that we could feel confident arguing. With blood orange, we don’t have that collective confidence. This drink is interesting to me because the back of the can doesn’t list blood orange juice as a flavor. In fact, apple juice is the second ingredient listed after carbonated water. Apple juice is a common sweetener in fruit juices (apple/pear juice are commonly listed as ingredients in most fruit juices, look at a label next time you’re curious) and qualifies as being a natural flavor. The rest of the ingredients follow, in order, as: Organic erythritol, turmeric extract, citric acid, organic natural flavors, and organic stevia extract.

Let’s talk about that, because it doesn’t sit right with me. We can start with the obvious: Where is blood orange listed on the label? It isn’t. I hate when this happens. It means there is such an insignificant amount of blood orange flavor in this beverage that it qualifies to be grouped under the category of “natural flavors.” The fruit being advertised on the front of the can, picture and all, doesn’t even have a listing in the lineup of ingredients. No. I don’t like it! Apple juice being the second ingredient? Okay, why? Because of the sweet apple taste? Sure. That, mingled with the turmeric, is just enough to give us a flavor we maybe don’t taste on a regular basis. A flavor that is interesting, but not really recognizable to the point where we can put our finger on it. Is it just interesting enough of a combination that we can say, “Oh, I guess this is blood orange?”

Yes. It is. There’s a lot of distractions on this can. There’s a USDA ORGANIC label, GLUTEN-FREE, NON-GMO PROJECT CERTIFIED, and “plant-infused sparkling water beverage.” A lot of words. I sound like a conspiracy theorist, and maybe with beverages I am a little bit. What I’m saying is, this is where they try to “get” us. The focus isn’t really on the beverage. It’s on what, allegedly, the beverage is going to do for us—that it’s good for us, and that’s why we should drink it. But if the drink being good for us were enough, they wouldn’t have to do all of this with the label to distract us. The drink doesn’t taste good enough on its own. It needs all of the words decidedly placed all over the can to get our attention. If it came down to it, without all of these words all over the can, I’m sure some people would still buy and try it. But they would have absolutely no reason to buy and try it again. There are other flavors (fuji apple and pear, and a lemon variety). I’m willing to bet that out of the three, the fuji apple and pear has the most potential, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. While I will rarely tell anyone to skip out on trying a beverage entirely, this beverage is skippable. Save your money, buy a plain seltzer, and squeeze blood orange juice into it. Blend a little grapefruit in there, too. Get your anti-inflammatory fix elsewhere (turmeric and almond milk with black pepper is a great solution, as is tart cherry juice—I prefer cheribundi brand), this drink just isn’t worth it.

Out of 10, I’m giving this a three rating. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t particularly like it. I wouldn’t drink it again outside of this context, and cannot think of anyone I would recommend it to.

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