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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trader Joe's Black Currant Juice Beverage

I had eaten dried currants long before I tried this beverage. They're very similar to raisins in taste and texture. So I guess in my mind I was expecting this beverage to taste a little like raisin juice. "But raisins are just dried grapes, you airhead," I scolded myself internally. So before partaking of this beverage, I adjusted my flavor-hypothesis accordingly and primed my tongue for something red grape juice-esque. I had also been warned by the check-out girl at TJ's that she cuts her currant juice with a bit of water—so I was expecting it to be strong, too.

But if anything, I would say the taste of this juice is significantly subtler than good old, traditional Welch's 100% Grape Juice. It looks almost identical to red grape juice—perhaps a tad darker. And I've never been one to cut anything with water. I'd rather have half a glass of thick syrupy juice by itself and then chase it with a separate glass of plain water. Which is what I did in this case.

It wasn't so pungent that it blew me away with its tartness or tanginess, but it certainly left a bit of an aftertaste in my mouth. Not a terrible one, but any aftertaste is unwelcome in my book.

However, the overall flavor is quite pleasant. It's a really refreshing and summery flavor somehow. There's an undertone that I would compare to cherry juice or cherry cider. And it's not unlike the flavor of an acaĆ­-based drink or blackberry drink, although all three of those juices are a tad more pungent than this stuff.

The only thing they add to the "juice beverage" is some cane sugar. I think they could have gotten away with just calling it "juice," but you know the true health nuts would have had a conniption if TJ's called it "juice" and then added sugar.

It's not overly sweet by any means. I think if they had gone the purist route and not added any sugar of any kind, it would have turned me off. I think it is what it's supposed to be, just the way they have it...if that makes sense. 

Even so, in the future, I think I'll go for the stronger stuff over this one. But if you're someone who really appreciates lighter, subtler flavors, I could absolutely feature this being a beverage of choice for palates more refined than mine.

I give it 3.5 stars. So does Sonia, who added, "It tastes like a diet drink, almost like a weird Crystal Light flavor."

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trader Joe's Mango Green Tea

I've probably written this before, but green tea is one of those things that can easily go either way for me. Sometimes it's cool and refreshing (or warm and welcoming), but other times, if it's a bit too herbaceous, well, it tastes like a puddle I could've lapped up from my lawn after a storm. Minus the mud. Overall, I can't decide if green tea is something I like or not. It's kinda the same with mangoes, too. Mango products I've reviewed have typically done well on here (like the granola or these candies) but fresh mango? I've tried to like it, but there's just somethng a little off about it that I don't really like, which is odd because pretty much any other fresh fruit gets a free pass. Except bananas. Don't get me started on those.

So, here's Trader Joe's Mango Green Tea. Two things I like to be wishy-washy about combined into one product. Wonderful. You can probably figure where this is headed. One word of advice right off the bat: be sure to shake this pretty well, or it just tastes like some two-toned flat-out nasty juice. I made that mistake once, and once was enough.

What if well-shaken and well-chilled? Hmm. Depends on the context, methinks. Any flavor it has is pretty subtle. To be honest, what I tasted mostly was the pear juice they stuck in as a flavor filler. The green tea portion isn't too potent at all, which is appreciated, while the mango isn't too overpowering. The label says there's 14 grams of sugar per one cup serving, which seems like a ludicrous number, not as much for the nutritional aspect as...I would've guessed 2 or 3 grams, tops, because sugary and sweet are two words I definitely would not use to describe the tea. When chilled, it actually really doesn't like much at all - it kinda has to warm up a bit, and that's when it becomes a bit more flavorful, but not by leaps and bounds.

I said what I said about context because it was a welcome refreshment from our dinner last night. On the advice of several readers, I took our remaining Thai chili lime cashews and some dried green mango and tossed them into TJ's yellow curry sauce (I reviewed the red a while back) with some rice. Deeeeeeeeeeeeelish! But pretty spicy, so having some mango green tea on standby for fire duty was pretty welcome. Other times, though, when I've sipped some just to have a drink, I've come away not so impressed. Sandy's pretty much in the latter category. "Meh. Meh. Mehmehmehmeh. It tastes like nothing," she said. "Meh again." Yeah, that sounds about right to me. With a little more flavor (I'd vote for mango), this would be pretty fabulous. As is, meh resounds within me as well. Split our score as you see fit.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Green Tea: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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