Friday, August 1, 2014

Trader Joe's Hibiscus Cranberry Juice Blend

I gather from the label that the actual name of this product is "Hibiscus cranberry flavored juice blend with seven other juices from concentrates with other added ingredients." But that was kind of long for a blog post title.

I mentioned this juice in my introductory post as an example of something unfamiliar that I would have passed by five years ago, but decided to try under my evolving paradigm of "be more willing to experiment with new foods." I had no idea what hibiscus tasted like. Heck, I didn't even know it was edible.

Unfortunately, I still don't know what hibiscus tastes like. This "flavored juice blend" is so confused that you can't tell. Just take a look at the list of ingredients:

The first ingredient (after the water used for reconstituting the concentrates), and therefore the largest constitute by weight or volume, is apple juice. The second is white grape juice. You only get to "hibiscus concentrate" in the third ingredient, and even then the label explains that it is made up of "hibiscus concentrate [a weirdly self-referential disclosure], apple juice concentrate, plum juice concentrate, white and red grape juice concentrates, citric acid, pomegranate juice concentrate, hibiscus extract, natural flavor." How much of anything that actually comes from a hibiscus plant is in this concoction? There's no way to know with any precision, but it doesn't sound like much.

As far as flavor, it tastes like a mostly unidentifiable blend of fruit juices, with cranberry being the only thing I can pick out specifically. But it's completely lacking the nice tartness that cranberry juice, or even good cranberry blends, ought to have. I don't see sugar or high-fructose corn syrup on the list of ingredients, but after tasting the stuff, it would not have surprised me to find it there--because it tastes not just sweetened, but overly sweetened. It's arguably closer to Kool-Aid than to real juice, in terms of flavors.

This is another example of "I shoulda looked at the label in the store." I might have still purchased it out of curiosity, but I would have been better prepared for a disappointing mishmash of flavors--which is perhaps the best description of this blend.

Will I buy it again? 

Nope. What's more, I'm going to be much more suspicious of other juice blends that TJ's might add to their shelves in the future.

Nina's view 

I was doubly disappointed in this beverage.

1. Shame on Trader Joe's for egregiously bogus labeling. The kind of bogus labeling that leads to Supreme Court cases [Supreme Court says Coca-Cola can be sued over juice ...]. Shame shame shame.

2. Bob says he can detect the cranberry flavor. Well, maybe. To me, this juice tasted like melted lollipops, and not in a good way. Clearly they are using the apple and grape juice concentrates in concentrate form as sweeteners.  You can't see the % of recommended daily allowance of carbs on Bob's picture of the label, but I'm going to guess that a single serving of this has more than 10% of your recommended daily calories. 

In short: sugar water with no redeeming features. Feh.


I got curious what other people may have thought of this stuff, so looked at a few opinions revealed via Google. Here are the first four that I found, with no editorial selection imposed. I think one of these four is precisely right; the other three are completely off-base. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is which. :-)

I had the juice straight. And it was really good! Then, I had some with a squeeze of lime and a shot of rum, and that was pretty delicious. I was feeling proud of myself! Then, I looked at the ingredients.... seriously, there was so little actual cranberry in it, I don't think it even counts! It is apparently mostly apple and pear juices. :-/ I liked it and I'll keep drinking it, but I just think the cranberry is too diluted to really be able to further my cranberry cause. I'll probably have to go back to 100% cranberry, and then, just make my own blends at home, gradually making them more and more cranberrylicious.

Hibiscus is not as present as I would expect it for receiving top billing, except in the aftertaste. Cranberry flavors are muted and not tart in the slightest. Overly sweet. A strong red grape flavor is present throughout, especially with successive tastings as the hibiscus fades away quickly. By the fifth sip, I can't taste anything other than red grapes. Very one-dimensionsal and overly sweet. Poorly balanced. Will not drink this juice -- it was difficult enough to finish this tasting.

This is my favorite juice on the planet. Hibiscus is commonly steeped then cooled to make agua de jamaica in Latin countries. The flower is called amapola or jamaica in Spanish (yes that how the island got it’s name). This potion blends this unique earthy flavor with cranberry juice.This is a must have.

I drink a lot of water, but I have found that I enjoy some diluted juice as a pick me up sometimes. Trader Joe’s has a relatively new one that is made completely from juices. It is nice and sweet, but you can cut the sweetness by adding water or a little bubbly water for a healthy soda like treat. It’s their Hibiscus Cranberry juice blend.

Next post: Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns 

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