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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Trader Joe's Hibiscus Lemongrass Sparkling Beverage

Both Sonia and I have "black thumbs." We've attempted growing plants throughout the years both inside and outside, large plants and small, flowers and vegetables, succulents and cacti, and each and every time, we manage to kill them in short order.

We actually had some lemongrass when we lived in New Jersey to help mitigate the out-of-control mosquito population in our backyard. We'd read that it's best to dig up the lemongrass by the root and put them in planters and bring them inside for the winter, although alternatively, you could trim them back and put some kind of covering over them to protect them from frost. They actually do the same thing with palm trees at the shore. Not that there are many reasons to go there in the offseason, but if you ever find yourself in Wildwood in the winter, you'll see random skinny tropical trees with big plastic bags on the tops lining the vacant beaches and empty boardwalks.

Anyway, since we lacked the space to house multiple large lemongrass plants inside, we opted for the method where you leave them outside. The bags we put on them blew away and they were thoroughly exposed to frost for months on end and they never came back in the spring. Byebye, lemongrass.

But while we had the plants, they did seem to keep the mosquitoes at bay to a certain extent, and they provided a lovely citrusy fragrance that would waft through the yard on summer evenings. When I'd clip the lemongrass with the weed whacker inadvertently while doing yard work, the lemony smell was even more pleasant and powerful. 

I often wondered if I could grab a handful of their long skinny leaves and grind them into a pulp and use them as a seasoning for food or flavoring for a beverage. That's almost the notion I get from this interesting sparkling drink from TJ's—that some dude just wandered into his backyard and snagged some leaves and flowers and stuck it in his Soda Stream water and made a unique homemade thirst-quencher.

It tastes very non-commercial, if that makes sense. It's barely sweet at all and tastes quite planty. There's just a hint of that lemony lemongrass essence and a whole lot of hibiscus flavor. I mean, I guess that's misleading to say it has "a whole lot" of any flavor. The taste is quite mellow. It just errs on the side of flowery rather than lemony or grassy.

I wonder if I couldn't achieve something similar by just grabbing some dandelions and ivy from the local park and mixing them with fizzy water. All in all, it's unusual and refreshing, but the flavor isn't something that I'd seek out in the future. Sonia enjoys the taste much more than I do, but then she generally likes hibiscus, and I generally don't.

$4.99 for four 12oz cans. It makes an interesting adult beverage when mixed with gin, so I'll be kind and give it two and a half stars. Sonia will go with four this time.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

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