Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Brew


Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Brew

Cool bottle, cool label. The contents? Also pretty good.

Oh wow – just wow. I think I may have dreamed of something like Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Brew at some point, but never did I imagine it would be made a reality. A strange but non-alcoholic beverage, bottled in a giant, green glass jug with the sort of stoppered cork that makes you feel like an old timey sailor, sold at rock bottom prices? There was no way I wasn’t buying this the second I laid eye on it.

Even better, if Trader Joe’s marketing copy is to be believed, this was a product that they felt compelled to make from scratch. On their website, Trader Joe’s states that they simply could not find a drink with enough ginger in it to suit their tastes, so they made their own. Really? Out of all the outlandish products that people might hypothetically be hankering for (pizza bagels the size of a real pizza, ice cream sundae pies, etc) TJ’s decided to hitch their horses to a Triple Ginger Brew? Now that’s a level of unorthodox thinking that I can really get behind.

While I certainly like that Trader Joe’s went and threw the word “brew” in there, what we’re basically talking about here is a ginger ale. A super intense ginger ale that comes in a giant, re-corkable jug, but a ginger ale nonetheless.

Look, I’ll level with you there, they had me at the bottle. It didn’t matter what they put in there, – super intense ginger ale, regular ginger ale, a different type of ginger ale – anything, I was going to buy it. A bottle with such cool, classic styling just doesn’t come along every day. Owning a bottle like this is like getting an honorary degree in Cool from Rad University. Basically, I would recommend you buy this product on strength of the bottle alone.

The fact that a tasty beverage can be found in the bottle is really just icing on the cake for me. I say “can be” found, because you opinions on this brew are based entirely on your fondness for ginger. I really like ginger. I always put extra ginger on my plate at sushi restaurants, I sometimes buy crystallized ginger to snack on, and when offered a choice between a ginger snap and a thin mint I’ll take the ginger snap every time.

In other words, when Trader Joe’s set out to make a super gingery brew, I was basically the target demographic. On the other hand, if you hate ginger and the thought of it makes you gag, you might want to consider not buying this product all that often.

For ginger fans, there’s a lot to love about this drink. What’s particularly nice, is that they upped the ginger flavor, not the sugar, so unlike some other ginger ales on the market, it’s quite mild. This really lets the ginger come to the fore or, more accurately, the rear. A gulp of triple ginger brew rolls quite easily across the tongue, only to light up the back of the throat and tongue with that warm, tingling, searing feeling.

In terms of potency, the brew is almost as strong as Reed’s very potent Jamaican-style Extra Ginger Brew, although it should be noted that Trader Joe’s bottles theirs in 750ml bottles which, at the price of only $2.99, makes it the clear winner – no matter how strong you like your ginger ale. In my opinion, the bottle alone is worth at least that much.

The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, if for the bottle alone.

Would I Buy It Again: I might step out for some right now.

Final Synopsis: Super strong ginger ale in a super cool bottle.

Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate Inspired by European Tradition


Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate

Europe’s a big place, but apparently this hot chocolate mix was inspired by all of it.

Ah yes, ’tis the season for fancy, dressed up gifts in supermarkets, and Trader Joe’s is positively rising to the occasion. Among their roasted nut oils and artisan mustard sets you might just find the twee, decorative tin of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate – Inspired By European Tradition.

Trader Joe’s is going all out to appear fancy with this one, to the point of actually putting “European” in the title, but what they really mean by “sipping chocolate” is powdered hot chocolate mix. Pretensions, however, may be excused in this case. Trader Joe’s really does provide a richer, more chocolaty hot chocolate that puts generic hot chocolate mixes to shame.

Hot chocolate has come a long way since the ancient Mayans first ground cocoa beans into paste and mixed it with cold water, cornmeal and chili peppers. In fact, the history of drinking chocolate stretches so far back that it precedes the notion of the chocolate bar by 1,400 years or so. In fact, for centuries the word “chocolate” simply meant hot chocolate. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that enterprising food scientists figured out a different way to get the chocolate out of the cocoa bean other than smashing it up and mixing it with water. In the intervening 1.5 millenniums hot chocolate, not unlike hard cider, rained supreme.

It wasn’t until the concept of hot chocolate sauntered its way into Western Europe in the 17th century that people finally struck on the notion of adding sugar to the previously bitter and unpalatable hot chocolate mix. This ushered in the age of foppish aristocrats sitting around, sipping rich hot chocolate in “chocolate houses” from dainty cups. It is to this “European tradition” that Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate appeals.

It might just be a powered cocoa mix, but this sipping chocolate is so rich and intense that you’re only supposed to make up a 1/3 cup of it at a time. Trader Joe’s alleges that you’ll experience a “velvety richness”, and actually manage to deliver on the promise.

Follow the instructions on the tin (1/3 cup milk and 3 tablespoons chocolate mix) and you’ll find yourself with a sweet cup of hot chocolate that absolutely blows Swiss Miss away. This is a hot chocolate with body – you really will want to limit yourself to tiny sips as the thick, deep chocolate flavor (not to mention the concentrated sweetness) washes over you.

For those who are not necessarily into daintily sipping hot chocolate from wee cups, TJ’s also includes the recipe for a more dilute version (2/3 cup milk or water). This makes for a good hot chocolate as well – certainly better than any given cup of Nesquick or Swiss Miss – just without the velvety richness.

The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, this is a sumptuous hot chocolate.

Would I Buy It Again: Sure, I enjoy a good cup of hot chocolate.

Final Synopsis: Hot chocolate on steroids.

Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate – Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

There is such a thing as going *too* whimsical. A chill fox sipping a cup of tea, however, is right in the sweet spot.

Yes, yes, yes Trader Joe’s! Now we’re talking awesome tea! Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea gives me a reason to look forward to tea time with eagerness every day. I have, to date, avoided reviewing TJ’s teas, for much the same reason that I avoided reviewing their otherwise amazing coffee – fear of dabbling in an arena where there is so much vehement opinion. But where regular Joe’s venture so too much venture I, and that leads us to tea.

Glancing at this box on the shelf I assumed TJ’s was making a play for the Lipton market share – their Harvest Blend tea box using the exact same color palette seen on Lipton’s giant boxes of stridently mundane tea bags. This thought was reinforced in my mind by the rather vague name. “Harvest blend” bringing to my mind the thought of nothing more flavorful than fallen foliage brewed over hot water. Ah, how wrong I was!

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea packs an incredible amount of savory, spicy flavor into their large, square bags – so much that you can easily get two full cups of tea out of one bag. The taste is apparent immediately upon opening the box – a strong, redolent blend of orange, chicory, hibiscus and cinnamon on a soothing chamomile base. My experience with delightful smelling herbal teas has generally been that they smell much better than they actually taste in your cup. Incredibly, Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea actually tastes even better than it smells. A savory, full bodied spiciness comes out of the ingredients as they steep, along with a surprising sweetness – a very mellow, subtle sweetness that accentuates the mix of spices. I say surprising because there’s no added sweetener to the tea bags. The sweetness comes from, and I’m not certain on this but willing to make an educated guess, unimaginable magical sources. That or maybe the natural apple and orange. Forget about your tea for 15 or 20 minutes and the sweetness will have infused the whole cup, a distinct hint of ripe apple.

In any case, this tea has exactly what you want for cool, crisp autumn evenings. Soothing tastes, warming spices and gentle sweetness. Perfect for sipping in a sweater as the leaves blow by.

The box itself, by the way, wins the award for Craziest Product Description, an award I’m always happy to give out. The product copy has the tone of being trapped on a box not of it’s own design, desperately attempting to make sense of a mad world.

It begins by immediately questioning it’s own premise, “A fox enjoying a cup of tea?” it asks, then, realizing it’s blowing the sale, hastily attempts to cover up. “Of course.” Full stop. “It happens all the time – if that tea is Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea” You can almost hear the nervous tremble in its voice, reassuring itself more than anyone else. The box goes on to make several, increasingly unhinged claims. This includes the assertion that this tea will bring you “unbridled joy with each sip”, which is a lot more than I’ve ever asked from a tea, before suddenly announcing that it will make you feel like, “A wise owl who’s just discovered the secret of eternal happiness.”

This owl bit seems like a particularly random non-sequiter – until you open the box. Just under the flap sits a picture of a wide-eyed, staring owl, perhaps originally envisioned as a soothing image, but executed here in a hand-drawn, jittery style that makes the owl look strung out and harrowed. It gazes blankly at nothing with huge dilated pupils – as if it just discovered the secret of eternal happiness, and that secret is an unspeakably profane blood sacrifice.

Other than that, though, this is a very good tea.

The Breakdown:

Would I Recommend It: Yes, this is delicious tea!

Would I Buy It Again: Definitely, it’s got everything you want in a seasonal herbal tea.

Final Synopsis: The perfect tea for sipping as you watch the weather change.

Trader Joe’s Pure Coconut Water

Trader Joe's Pure Coconut Water

Now in convenient giant box form.

I don’t like coconut water. I’m officially on the books as one of those guys who walks around with a half-quizzical, half-angry look on his face, loudly complaining to his friends about how stupid it is that coconut water is being sold everywhere all of the sudden. Granted, I formed my opinion after trying maybe two different types of coconut water (Zico, and something else – something stupid) but that was enough for me. To hell with coconut water! It tastes weird and kind of gross, it routinely costs four bucks a bottle, it’s been co-opted by the uber-trendy – what more reason did I need to forsake it forever?

Forsake it I did until, in a moment of sheer caprice, I picked up Trader Joe’s Coconut Water. now sold in convenient giant box form. Instead of taking it home, trying a warm sip in my kitchen then writing a pissy article about it with one hand while pouring it down the drain with the other, I thought I’d actually give it a fair shake, take this one out into the real world, and field test it.

The one thing that coconut water gains the most acclaim for, and cornerstone to it’s marketing spiels, is how incredibly hydrating it’s alleged to be. Seeing as that all of my encounters with coconut water have been in the comfort of my own kitchen while at 90% hydration, I’m willing to grant that I haven’t really given coconut water a fair shot. What if I was super in to yoga, like the girls in all the coconut water ads? What if I was all sweaty and tired from yoga? Would I have a totally different opinion of this otherwise lame drink?

I executed my plan on one of the 90+ degree Saturday’s Los Angeles has been inflicting on us throughout late summer. I left home with two bottles, a liter of Trader Joe’s Electrolyte Enhanced Water (not reviewed on this blog because, come on, it’s basically just water), and the unwieldy, soft-sided 750 ml box of Trader Joe’s Coconut Water.

The plan,such as it was, was to walk down to a local park, goof around and play Frisbee with friends, and self-hydrate as necessary. I ran into trouble immediately out the door. While attempting to apply sunscreen to my head and walk at the same time, I managed to apply 100 times the required amount of lotion. Operating off of, what I know recognize as deeply flawed logic, I attempted to massage the pool of sunscreen into my scalp. This did not work out well, resulting in a dense mat of oily, greasy hair. While this did provide an all but impenetrable barrier to ultraviolet radiation, it also prevented normal perspiration. After walking two blocks, giant beads of sweat were already crawling down my forehead. I cracked open the electrolyte enhanced water and began to drink.

Two hours and a bathroom break later, the bottle of water was laying empty next to me. Meanwhile, the stealthy hands of dehydration continued their busy work, pilfering my precious bodily fluids. The time had come for coconut water. I popped open the sun-warmed box and took a drink. Folks, believe me when I tell you that I was instantly quenched in a way the water didn’t even come close too.

The coconut water lit up my whole tongue as it hungrily responded to the vital potassium and trace nutrients it contained. When it splashed down into my stomach, I could actually feel a difference in the level of hydration I was receiving – I could feel the coconut water saturating and infusing my whole body. To put it mildly, I was astonished. I expected the coconut water to be a good source of hydration, in a best case scenario I thought it might be on par with water. I certainly didn’t expect it to completely blow away water. Where the water felt like it was nourishing the top of my tongue, but the coconut water felt like it was hitting every nook and cranny, hydrating me throughout my body. Simply put, it was satisfying in an organic, fulfilling way.

Did it still taste gross and slightly off-putting? Yes, absolutely. But what I’ve come to realize is that coconut water isn’t playing the tasty drink game, it’s playing the hydration game – and in that arena it triumphs.

If you, like me, have avoided coconut water on the grounds that it’s gross and expensive,you’re absolutely validated and may continue to do so. If, however, you’re looking for a healthy, natural and very effective way to rehydrate – Trader Joe’s Pure Coconut Water is an excellent solution.

The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Yes, if you plan on sweating; no if you want a tasty drink.

Would I Buy It Again: Yup, I’m a coconut water convert.

Final Synopsis: Coconut water will hydrate the hell out of you.

Trader Joe's Pure Coconut Water - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Pure Coconut Water – Nutrition Facts

ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider

ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider

Looks like cider, tastes like pumpkin and a playing card on the label. Ace is sort of mixing its metaphors here.


Every now and then I feel compelled to review a product at Trader Joe’s that isn’t on the actual Trader Joe’s brand. I’ve done it once or twice before, and only if I’m sufficiently intrigued by the weird nature of the product. When I saw ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider in the store the the other day, I simply couldn’t contain my curiosity. I’ve heard of apple ciders before, obviously, and even pear ciders. But pumpkin? That’s just crazy enough to get you on this blog.

A good hard cider isn’t an easy thing to come by in the states. They have a rather more robust history in the old UK and across the continent, but never took off in a big way in America – this despite a strong start in the nation’s infancy. In fact, for a non-trivial portion of America’s history hard cider was drunk like water, literally. In the colonial era, the notion of practical sanitation was a far off dream. As a result of water-borne illnesses, the populous quickly started looking for alternatives to keep them healthy, hydrated and maybe get them a little drunk to boot. The common solution was hard apple cider, which became the most common beverage to drink with meals.

As time went on, of course, public sanitation came into vogue. Water lost its stigma of being unhealthy, and beer rose to the position of most patriotic beverage. Nevertheless, the way was paved for pumpkin cider which, despite my high hopes, is not actually squeezed out of pumpkins in a giant pumpkin press, but made by adding natural flavorings to ordinary hard cider.

How does it taste? Well, a bit like pumpkin, really. The apple juice that makes up the base of this cider is still the primary and unmistakable component of the drink, but ACE doesn’t skimp on the natural pumpkin flavoring either. Crack open the bottle and you’ll get not only a bouquet of pumpkin up your nose right off the bat, but a rich blend of spices that embodies all of late fall. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I bought this drink was because, standing there on the supermarket floor, I couldn’t really conceptualize what pumpkin smelled like and I hungered for the experience. (The other reason, of course, was to give me an excuse to get drunk). The pumpkin you find in this bottle is similar to the pumpkin you find in a good pumpkin pie, not overly sweet but a more basic, essential pumpkin mixed with allspice, cinnamon and cloves. If you can drink this and not be transported back to a childhood memory of crunching leaves underfoot then you are probably dead inside (or grew up in a tropical -to-semi-tropical climate, one of the two).

Speaking of deadening yourself, the cider packs a reasonably strong punch – 5% alcohol by volume. That puts it toe to toe with most beers on the market. The over-sized 22 oz bottle, on the other hand, ensure that once you open this thing up you won’t be going out for the evening.

I’m going to stay out of the cider vs. beer controversy on the grounds that it is stupid. Cider and beer can and should exist happily side by side, although if we’re keeping score ACE’s pumpkin cider is gluten-free and has lower calorie than beers with the same alcohol content.

I haven’t had a hard cider that I’ve ever really liked before, everything I’ve ever tried has seemed too sweet or too cheap, but I liked this cider and I’d go back to it again. That said, pumpkin cider is ultimately a seasonal drink and a novelty. It’s never going to replace beer, or even a hypothetical, good, hard apple cider, but it could absolutely find a place on the counter next to the egg nog.


Would I Recommend It: If you’re into novel seasonal drinks, absolutely.

Would I Buy It Again: Sure, next fall.

Final Synopsis: A quality cider, with or without the pumpkin gimmick.

ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider - Nutrition Facts

ACE Hard Pumpkin Cider – Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Green Tea Mix

Trader Joe's Tropical Sweetened Matcha

I picked this up and went, “Whaaa?” audibly and entirely involuntarily.

You never know what’s going to sound bizarre but be surprisingly good tasting at TJ’s. Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha Green Tea Mix is not one of those cases. I should have known better, I actually had forewarning – this isn’t the first powdered green tea with mango flavoring I’ve had. My first experience was with Crystal Light brand Green Tea with Mango, that purveyor of powdered drink mixes. Granted, it had no passion fruit, but the concept was the same – a powdered tea mix with certain tropical fruits mixed in. The Crystal Light product, ordinarily a satisfactory brand, was all but undrinkable in this case – a revoltingly heavy mango flavor having its way with an otherwise okay powdered green tea.

Perhaps by including passion fruit TJ’s had hoped to avoid the same fate. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. Trader Joe’s Tropical Sweetened Matcha is every bit as repugnant – a terribly mismatched set of flavors putting the nail in the coffin of a perplexing offering.

I think the first question has to be, who in the world’s been asking for this – a big tin of loose, powdered green tea mixed with arbitrary fruit flavoring? It’s the same question I ask myself whenever I order the green tea at Starbucks. “Oh yeah,” I grimace, “They mix mint in with mint.”

Look, green tea is delicious on it’s own, sophisticated and relaxing when served hot, refreshing and invigorating when served over ice, we don’t have to go and mix it with all sorts of other flavors just because we can. It’s a facet of the same madness that compels every sushi place to offer spicy tuna rolls. Guys, straight up fatty tuna is as good as sushi gets – so why is your sushi menu dominated by a dozen variations on minced spicy tuna? Are you all crazy?!

And okay, I’ll grant you that the Starbucks mint and matcha isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, it’s just not my cup of tea. If, however, you’re dead set on adding fruit to green tea for some reason, why are we dabbling in such total non-sequitors as mango and passion fruit? Let’s all just be frothright and admit that no one has ever made a good-tasting mango flavor additive. Whether it’s been distilled from the juices or ginned up in a lab, mango flavoring has never worked well as a flavoring for other foods. Just let mango be mango. Muddling the mix, TJ’s throws some in passion fruit flavoring, a fruit that, in a blind taste test, I wouldn’t be able to identify in it’s natural state.

This is a classic example of less being more. Green tea is a great, nuanced, clean taste in it’s own right. It needs to be given room to express itself. Throw in a bunch of flavorings and you end up with a beverage that is passable at best, but never excellent. If you must add a fruit to it, and I recommend against this, then keep it to something equally simple a clean. A hit of strawberry or something, not just a bunch of tropical fruit.

I could go on forever about this product, it perplexes me so. Instead, I’ll just briefly nit-pick a couple more things. One, it comes in a giant tin of loose powder. This is sloppy, lends itself to big messes and benefits no one. I would guess it’s packaged this way because Two, the serving size is a hefty 4 teaspoons per 7 oz cup. That’s not a ridiculous number until you notice that Three, the prime ingredient is sugar, which means this is no health drink lady. They also misuse the word matcha on the package, but really at this point I’m just pooped out.

The Breakdown:

Would I Recommend It: No, it’s just not very good tasting.

Would I Buy It Again: Man, are you clownin’ me?

Final Synopsis: Basing a sweet tea mix around green tea and tropical fruit is a mistake, and people should stop doing it.

Trader Joe’s Tangerine Juice

Trader Joe's Tangerine Juice

100% pure, organic orange juice to plebeian for you? Check this out.

What else is the tangerine but the perfect example of the forgotten also-ran. At some point in the unknown past man stood over the Ur-carafe, his hand wavering for a moment between two nearly identical citrus fruits, and for reasons lost to us now, it was the orange he chose to squeeze for his morning juice forever more. There is an alternate universes where all coin flips came up opposite, all substance is made from anti-matter, cash is based upon the silver standard, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit towers over Mickey Mouse and people wouldn’t dream of having breakfast without a glass of fresh-squeezed TJ.

It’s beyond me to imagine what the Trader Joe’s bigwigs were thinking when they decided to stock their shelves with a juice that 95% of the population will automatically pass up in favor of good ol’ orange juice, but whatever the reason is I decided to honor it with a purchase this week. Practically, the tangerine is almost as near to the orange as it is possible to come.

I will say, first and foremost, that I prefer the color of tangerine juice to your ordinary store boat orange juice. It’s hue is just slightly more rich, almost imperceptibly closer to red, than a glass of Florida’s best. I expected much the same from the taste. The tangerine is, after all, close cousin to the orange, there is even debate in scientific communities over whether the tangerine is it’s own species or just a variety of orange. If scientists can’t tell the difference, how different could 100% TJ be from OJ? Markedly different, is the answer.The same citrus bite is there, particularly on the top note as it graces the tongue, but the heart note and follow through are both startlingly bitter. If I had to make a tangerine juice stand-in, I would go for a 70/30 OJ, grapefruit juice split – it’s that bitter. But, if I may say so, bitter in a good way.

As is so often the case with pure juices tangerine juice is a complex and engrossing taste. It is not chiefly bitter, so much as it is interestingly bitter. Orange juice, like apple juice, can be at times too sweet. Tangerine juice is a sipping drink, and drinks that insist on being sipped are perfect for people who love juice, but fear the massive caloric load inherent in a big glass of juice. I tend to guzzle purely sweet drinks, and so I never tempt myself with large cartons of orange juice in the fridge. This drink packs just enough of a punch to make me sit up, pay attention, and set the cup back down. The perfect replacement for a breakfast juice or, in a pinch, the perfect way to mask a particularly strong mixed drink.


Would I Recommend It: Yes, particularly to iconoclasts.


Would I Buy It Again: Absolutely, seasonal if nothing else.


Final Synopsis: Orange juice’s older, more refined brother.


Trader Joe's Tangerine Juice Nutritional Facts

Trader Joe’s Organic Carrot Juice

The strawberry flavored milk of a healthier reality.

Carrots have always been something of a mixed bag for me. Raw, a find them delicious – be they shredded, sliced, julienned, or dropped on the table as an unvarnished, knobbly stick still covered in garden dirt. I also love them boiled, roasted, toasted or fried -just don’t steam them. If you steam them I’ll punch you in the face. Don’t steam them anywhere near me, the odor alone is uniquely repulsive. Steamed carrots are bastards and we can all hate them together.

I’ve written on unusual forms of carrots (and their unusual history) before, but as I stood in my local TJ’s, staring a stately array of gleaming orange bottles in the face, I realized I’d never had carrot juice before. Not straight carrot juice, at any rate. Of course, I’ve had it in my fruit juices, yogurts, salad dressings and, of course, smoothies before. People have been squeezing the fluid from these oddly colored roots as a natural food dye for decades. The stuff’s all but ubiquitous in adulterated forms, but as straight-from-a-bottle, only-ingredient-listed-on-the-bottle, honest-to-god, organic carrot juice? That’s something you don’t usually see. I had to imagine there were two possible reasons for that fact, either it tastes dreadful, or it tastes fine but $3.50 for 100 ml is an unseemly price for the privilege of drinking a handful of carrots. Reckless as always, I took this one home.

The taste of organic carrot juice is shockingly complex. Shockingly because, again, we’re talking about a single, pure ingredient. The juice advances through your mouth in three distinct phases, each dominated by an almost alarming sweetness. Pure organic carrot juice is like drinking a box of strawberry milk, if some joker swapped out the artificial strawberry flavoring for artificial carrot flavoring. Shocking, guys, like I said.

Let’s break this down to the blow by blow, shall we.

At the setup, you are ready for anything but sweetness. The nose detects nothing but the odor of the unleashed carrot. As you tip the drink into your mouth, a wave of intense carrot sensation runs before it. This is an amazingly brief sensation, existing in the few milliseconds before the juice itself hits the tongue, but distinctly notable nonetheless. It’s as if the liquid is so supercharged with pure carrot-ness that the air itself becomes infused with these uncontainable motes of carrot essence. Like a reverse aftertaste, in effect. At this moment you are absolutely convinced that this is going to be a healthful, if untasty, experience. However, in the very next moment the juice pulls a trick so unforeseen as to make you fear, momentarily, for your sanity. As the opaque milky juice bathes your tongue you are rooted to the spot by unrelenting sweetness. Yes, you know it’s just carrots, and yes, somewhere deep within the juice the flavor of carrot lingers, but any such vegetative taste is overwhelmed totally by the unyielding, delicious sweetness.

Once you gulp, the sweetness vanishes like a dream and leaves in it’s place a taste exactly as if you’d just gnawed upon three inches of solid carrot root. Only the absence of lingering, carroty fragments in your teeth marks any real difference.

In my experience it’s really totally unprecedented. After every sip I couldn’t help but think “Really? This is pure carrot?”

Kudos, Carrots.

Would I Recommend It: Oh yeah, so long as you don’t mind the aftertaste of raw carrots.

Would I Buy It Again: Only if the price comes down by about 30%.

Final Synopsis: You will never look the same way at a carrot again.

Trader Joes Organic Carrot Juice - Nutritional Information

Trader Joe’s Blueberry and Pomegranate Green Tea

Trader Joe's Blueberry and Pomegranate Green Tea

Oh, pomegrante - you are so abused nowadays...

Flavored vodkas, you guys. You see them up there on the billboard, looking all delicious, sparkling glasses wreathed in sweet, exotic flowers and boughs heavy with succulent berries. It makes you think, Damn, that looks delicious. So you get some and try and sip and you remember, a deep grimace crawling over your face , Oh yeah, it’s still just vodka.

Fruit infused, unsweetened tea is just the same way. You crack open a bottle, take a sip – and you grimace. Why the hell are they putting fruit in it if it isn’t sweet?, you ask, but the bottle is silent. It has no answers for you, only the tea.

Honestly, it’s beyond me as well. Same goes for fruit-infused, unsweetened water. You don’t see it quite as much as you used to in the 90’s, but it’s still out there, lurking on the highest rack of the grocery store shelves, slowly gathering dust.

These drinks fall squarely into the acquired taste category, no one ever picked up one of these drinks and fell in love with it out of the blue. Not in the America I know. Drinks like this blueberry and pomegranate green tea are the fall backs of people who, for one reason or another, simply can’t enjoy a beverage sweetened to all get out by high-fructose corn-syrup but can’t quite make a clean break of additive flavoring. Maybe it’s their health, or maybe it’s their conscience that’s got them, I don’t know.

So it’s a weird category I have to judge this bottled drink against. It’s not sweet, as advertised, but the fruit flavoring gives it a tongue-tingling taste that makes you wish it were. Blueberry is a fine taste, but I have to take umbrage here with pomegranates. I love pomegranates, they are easily in my top 5 favorite fruits of all time (FFOAT), top 3 even. There is nary a more delectable experience than splitting open a pomegranate and the leisurely plucking of it’s juicy seeds. That said, the horse has been beaten to a brutal death, long, long ago. The question I have to ask is, who was the madman who decided to start flavoring everything with it. Did he ever taste the pomegranate? Did he not realize, it’s tart as hell? Tart as shit even? Flavor something with pomegranate juice and the moment it hits your tongue it curls up and then goes dead for ten minutes. It has the same effect here – lending it’s astringent properties to the already slightly astringent green tea. The net effect? A tea that let’s you know when it’s been drunk. This is no guzzling tea, like the awesome Teajava, but a sipping tea. A tea that tells you what to do and how long to do it for. “Just a little bit,” it says, “Stop now.”

Is this a terrible thing? Not necessarily, it certainly makes the tea last, but between the tartness on the tongue and the way it leads you on without actually being sweet makes me relegate this to a highly selective drink I might enjoy once per summer, if parched on a hot day at the beach.

Would I Recommend It: Yes, but only if you’re already a buyer of unsweetened fruit-infused beverages (grandma’s, etc)

Would I But It Again: Once a year, maybe.

Final Synopsis: Good tea, but I just don’t get it.


Trader Joe's Pomegranate and Blueberry Green Tea Nutritional Information

Trader Joe’s Unflavored Organic Coconut Milk Beverage

Trader Joe's Unflavored Organic Coconut Milk Beverage

Can this possible be as good as it sounds?

Nothing ever sounds so good to me as coconut milk. I don’t know why this is, because every time I have some I’m inevitably disappointed. I blame cultural indoctrination for my consistently high hopes – mainly Sesame Street.

As a child I remember watching one of the recurring animated segments that would run from time to time on that saintly old show, the simple story a little boy in Jamaica (or some such Carribean Island) who wants nothing but a nice glass of coconut milk before bed time, receives it, and becomes infinitely content. What was coconut milk, I wondered, watching this little drama unfold, and how good must it be? I supposed it to be something unearthly sweet and creamy and delicious.

Alas, I grew older. And as I grew older it came to be that I would taste coconut milk. And through tasting it I came to know the bitter world of disappointment that comes to claim us all. Coconut milk, I learned, basically tastes like water diluted with milk, nothing so exotic as I had dreamed.  And so I turned my attention to other things, and experienced much and forgot coconut milk, forgot it until today.

Trader’s Joe’s Unflavored Organic Coconut Milk Beverage lured me with that same exotic appeal from my youth, and while it does not redeem those lost childhood dreams, for what it is it is quite good. This coconut milk beverage, and note the addition of the word beverage here, is basically just a soy milk substitute. The taste is very close to the taste of ordinary soy milk (essentially undetectable to a regular guy like me), but is noticeably thicker and creamier, and leaves a mellow, lingering taste in the mouth.

This creaminess is due to the ingredients behind the coconut milk beverage, which is not actually coconut milk per se, but coconut cream mixed with water. To me, this would seem to be basically the same thing as coconut milk, seeing as that coconut cream is just coconut milk that has had the water simmered out of it. Evidently that’s not the way the truth in labeling division of the US Gov’t sees it though.

At any rate, the main audience for this product doesn’t seem to be me so much as it does those people whose stomach’s are quite prickly when it comes to milk and/or soy based products. I can’t speak for those fine people, but as someone blithely lactose tolerant I thought this product was a bit nicer than ordinary unflavored soy milk for my cereal, but still no replacement for the good ol’ cow.


Would I Recommend It: Only to those on the look for something other than soy milk.


Would I Buy It Again: Sorry, but it just doesn’t fill any needs in my life.


Final Synopsis: A good go to for the soy-sensitive, it not the childhood dreamers.

Trader Joe's Unflavored Organic Coconut Milk Beverage - Nutritional Information