It used to be difficult to find true innovation when it came to natural beverages. For years you could only find better-for-you alternatives of conventional items: organic soymilk; organic orange juice bottled in multi-serve containers; and juice box packs for kids lunches.
Even when natural beverages started to become more available in the grab ’n go, refrigerated section of retail stores, new products underwhelmed. Soda replacements prevailed. While these fizzy beverages featured unique, fruity flavors, they were still rife in added sugar. Natural soda, after all, is still soda.
But in the past three years, something has shifted. Now, brands aren’t just “healthing up” existing products, they’re thinking about beverages in an entirely new way and encouraging shoppers to view single-serve, packaged drinks as a stand-in for something like nutrition bars. Easy-to-consume, vitamin- and mineral-packed beverages are the antidote to problems associated with modern life, including not eating enough fruits and vegetables, finding processed, sugary products nestled in every corner of conventional stores and experiencing a perpetual lack of time to cook a healthy breakfast or lunch.
Rather than choosing beverages based just on flavor, consumers are now embracing functional options that deliver on health. Meet the new products that are pioneering better-for-you natural beverages.
Tart, not sweet
This lip-smacking beverage subtly reminds us of a Moscow mule. Inside each 11.2-ounce Tetra Pak is a tart, USDA Organic blend of water, blue agave, lime juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, monk fruit extract and nopal cactus powder—prickly pear cactus fruit grown in California desert regions. Just 35 calories per serving makes this a refreshing, summer beverage.
When Colonial New England farmers needed a pick-me-up in the field, switchel was their customary treat. Traditionally made with a combination of apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and ginger, this tangy-sweet version also contains organic yerba mate for a hit of caffeine and earthiness. At 54 calories per serving, this heritage beverage quenches thirst and revitalizes on hot days.
This 40-calorie beverage from Suja Organic is a functional beverage packed with USDA Organic functional ingredients, including 4 billion CFU (or “colony forming units,” a measurement of living organisms in products) of added probiotics. It tastes like an extra-tart blueberry lemonade. Pucker-prompting lemon juice and coconut vinegar are tempered by naturally sweet coconut nectar, blueberry juice and stevia leaf extract. Seven grams sugar per bottle is pretty reasonable, too.
The fermentation experts at Farmhouse Culture branch deliver a ready-to-drink product with this USDA Organic, effervescent beverage. The first ingredient: the probiotic-filled brine made with water, cabbage, sea salt and caraway from Farmhouse’s soaking liquid for crafting signature pickled vegetables. Also inside you’ll find beets, organic inulin, organic chocolate cherry flavoring and an added probiotic. Sweetened with a balanced combo of erythritol and stevia.
This super-tart vinegar concentrate is the result of natural fermentation that occurs by combining cold-pressed pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar and organic evaporated cane juice—that’s it. Each 12-ounce bottle contains 24 servings—add 1 tablespoon of Vitox to water and stir for a nourishing beverage. It’s a little pricey (about $20), but each bottle undergoes 14 days of fermentation to cultivate good bacteria for a balanced belly.
Pop the bubbly
Herbal tea is delicious. But when it’s canned and infused with nitrogen, it’s exciting. Zero calorie and zero sugar, this crimson product contains cold-brewed organic hibiscus tea and added natural flavoring. Nitrogen creates miniscule bubbles in the liquid that conjure a soft froth when vigorously poured into a glass. We also appreciate that Caveman Coffee’s tea contains no added sugar, so it’s diabetic- and paleo-friendly.
Spicy, earthy and healthy, the dynamic recipe of USDA Organic turmeric and ginger boost this bubbly kombucha into the craveability zone. These inflammation-reducing ingredients work particularly well when paired with black tea and yerba mate (hello, caffeine!), organic cane sugar and kombucha cultures. All of this transforms into a harmonious bubbly beverage to adore.
What initially started as a local kombucha tap room in Colorado has expanded into a ready-to-drink line that has even kombucha skeptics transitioning to the tribe. We think it’s because of Rowdy’s commitment to crafting strong Ayurvedic flavors with ingredients such as ginger, fenugreek, lemongrass and turmeric, which minimize kombucha’s naturally signature vinegary flavor. Rowdy Mermaid is distributed in the Rocky Mountain region, with plans to expand.
From this Portland, Oregon-based brand is a cold-brew, nitrogen-infused can of deliciousness. Just two ingredients (not counting the pump of nitrogen) comprise Stumptown’s hipster-perfect blend: water and coffee. Before drinking, give the can a shake or two to agitate the nitrogen, then pour into a glass. Stumptown typically sources coffee Direct Trade, and is passionate about forming long-term partnerships with farmers.
You would be hard-pressed to find something this delicious outside of an artisan coffee shop. Each can contains a gorgeous concoction of silky, reduced-fat milk, coffee, cane sugar, chicory root extract, cocoa powder and more. At 130 calories, this chocolate-y, caffeinated beverage features proprietary technology called Innovalve—which froths the drink to perfection upon opening. Keep a lookout for a coconut milk version coming soon.
The savory experts at Bonafide Provisions have expanded their frozen line of bone broths into the ready-to-drink refrigerated category. This USDA Organic, Whole 30-approved beverage features a wholesome blend of savory chicken bone broth, tomato, red beets, cucumber, red onion, basil, sea salt, vinegar, lemon and olive oil—like something grandmother would make. Just 60 calories per bottle, too.
The founder of Tio Gazpacho was inspired to make fresh, cold soup in a bottle after a trip to Spain, where he feasted on the signature, healthy stew. Fast forward a few years and Tio Gazpacho is launching unique, South American-inspired products like this Maiz flavor that’s packed with corn, roasted poblano, lemon juice, red onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and more. A Certified Vegan, 150-calorie beverage that satisfies.
This adorable little jar is made with 60 calories of USDA Organic ingredients such as butternut squash, almond milk, carrots, ginger, sea salt, turmeric, curry powder and vinegar. We love how Vim + Vitae packaged this vegan, gluten-free refrigerated soup in glass rather than plastic. Not only is it a reusable container, but it also connotes that the soup is a gourmet product and something to be savored.
A refreshing, HPP cold-pressured beverage made entirely with USDA Organic ingredients. You’ll delight in the cooling flavor of cucumber, creamy avocado and licorice-y fennel. Zupa Noma stands out from similar products because the company blends whole vegetables (including the skin and sometimes the seeds), which ups the fiber and protein. We also appreciate how this product only contains 140 mg sodium per bottle.
Beef broth made from grass-fed beef bones is the star ingredient in this unique, savory beverage. Fortified by umami-ful coconut vinegar and shiitake mushrooms, black peppercorns and ginger. Either sip cold directly from the fridge or warm it up in a mug for a nourishing mini-meal. Each 2-serving bottle contains 260 calories and 16 grams protein.
Designed to improve vitality and shore up the immune system, this small but mighty liquid shot packs functional ingredients. Each USDA Organic 2-ounce shot features 60 calories of pineapple juice, ginger juice, lemon juice, echinacea juice, an added probiotic and ground black pepper. It’s an energizing Ayurvedic-inspired blend designed to boost energy and nutrition.
Protein? Check. Maca? Check. Vegan and soy-free? Check. And check. A new grab-n-go product, Califia blends their signature almond milk with pea and brown-rice proteins, cocoa and 1,000 mg of maca grown in Peru. We love how this beverage—which tastes like straight-up chocolate milk—incorporates healthful, herbal ingredients into a fun, approachable package. Each 10.5-ounce bottle contains 160 calories.
For days when sitting down to a real meal feels impossible, this quirky USDA Organic beverage steps up. Inside, find 270 calories, 12 grams protein and 4 grams fiber derived from almond milk, quinoa, coconut sugar, oats, pea protein and coconut syrup. Maca powder provides consumers with an adaptogenic boost. Genius doesn’t use any gums in its product, so shaking is necessary.
When watermelon water (a.k.a watermelon puree with some lemon juice) came on the scene a few years ago, we were impressed. Like summer in a bottle, who knew that watermelon juice could be so invigorating? This is why we’re smitten with WTRMLN WTR’s new Lemon Ginger beverage, which features watermelon flesh, watermelon rind, organic lemon juice and anti-inflammatory organic ginger juice and organic ginger extract. Best post-workout beverage ever? Perhaps.
Mr. Mak’s super-gingery spicy sipper is perfect for stomachaches, nausea or low energy. This beautiful blend features organic ginger puree (a thick layer of ginger will settle at the bottom of this beverage—shake it up before consuming), organic honey, lemon juice, organic ginger extract and enlivening organic Asian ginseng. It’s a 70-calorie beverage packed with functional, traditional ingredients. Cool!