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Five things you need to know about summer drinks

Refill please...TODAY food editor Phil Lempert tells us the latest and the best when it comes to quenching your thirst this hot season.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The consumer stampede toward healthy beverages is hardly a recent phenomenon. Back in the late '70s, a small New York brand, Snapple, took over the Big Apple and started a movement in the beverage industry that became known as "New Age." While several different categories are included under the "New Age" banner - including ready-to-drink tea, bottled water, fruit juice and fruit drinks, and sports drinks - the common thread is that all are generally single-serve offerings, sold at a premium price point, and, most importantly, offer the perception of being "good for you."

Of all the "good-for-you" beverage segments, none has performed better over recent years than good ol' bottled water. According to ACNielsen figures (total U.S. - food/mass/drug, excluding Wal-Mart data), the still water category grew by 73 percent in dollar volume over the four-year period between 12/30/00 and 12/25/04 ($1.84 billion to $3.18 billion). However, it was the "New Age" segment (i.e., 1.5-liter and less bottles) that saw its stock continue to skyrocket. Over the same period, the single-serve water segment grew by over 130 percent ($1.04 billion to $2.39 billion). Even more significantly, during the 52-week period ending 12/25/04, those smaller packages accounted for just over 75 percent of all dollar rings.

Today, perhaps the hottest beverage segments are also New Age offshoots — "enhanced waters" and green tea.

The word "enhanced" can mean anything from flavored water to added oxygen to added nutrients. Keep in mind that the some of the perceived benefits among the myriad "good-for-you" tonics on the market are just that - merely marketing ploys. For example, "super-oxygenated" water — products that actually claim to have added oxygen levels, and therefore providing an energy boost. Many scientists, however, do not concur. The amount of extra oxygen that can be dissolved into a 500ml bottle of water is roughly equivalent to one breath of fresh air — hardly enough to affect even the mildest of workouts. Inn fact, most of this oxygen escapes the bottle as soon as it is opened, and the stomach's rate of absorption is minuscule compared to the lungs.

Green Tea is considered one of the 50 most fundamental herbs around and is the second most popular beverage consumed-taking a back seat only to water. Lots of buzz over the years about green tea and all its wonders — sure, it is a terrific beverage which comes in a variety of flavors (almost too many to count.) Green tea is an anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial. It detoxifies, energizes, soothes and nourishes. Some believe it possesses the most effective anti-cancer compounds ever discovered, protecting cells from free radical damage and strengthening the body's own production of antioxidant enzymes.

Here's some of the hottest new products for this summer:

  • Health: SENCE, green tea, Tazo, salada, aloe, frutzzo
  • Hi performance: Propel, Dasani
  • Ultimate convience: Shotpaks

SENCE rare European rose nectar This beverage is made from Kazanlak rose petals harvested during a three-week period from the end of May and early June in central Bulgaria. The concentrate of pink rose petals, sugar and water is pasteurized at the peak of aroma and flavor, virtually the same way it has been produced for hundreds of years. Leonardo da Vinci drank rose nectar regularly — both hot, as tea and chilled.

There are two product versions: regular and 33% reduced sugar. SENCE Rare European Rose Nectar can be served alone as a refreshing alternative to soft drinks and juice, or as a mixer with juice products, carbonated and spirited beverages including vodka, tequila, cognac, rum, gin, sake, champagne and some cordials. Price: 250ml glass bottle $3.99; 750ml glass bottle $7.99; One liter Tetra Pak box $6.99

SENCE European Rose Nectar — Unique, sophisticated and one of a kind. Tastes like a Rose smells. Lipton®
The world's leading tea brand, shakes up the tea category with the introduction of three new flavors in their To Go Sticks line: Green Tea with Citrus, White Tea with Apple Cranberry and White Tea with Raspberry.

Lipton® To Go Sticks are the first and only "on the go" mix with the protective health benefits of antioxidants. Consumers can now enjoy new great tastes and health benefits of green and white tea, even when they're on the go! Just add the contents of a Lipton To Go Stick packet to a 16.9-20-ounce bottle of water and shake well. Contains no artificial flavors or sugars, zero calories per 8 ounce serving. Each serving naturally contains 80 milligrams of protective flavonoid antioxidants, which help protect against free radicals-molecules that can damage cells.

Price: 10 pack sells for $2.90, Tazo diet mojito green tea
This year, Tazo brand launched diet teas (Diet Giant Peach and Diet Mojito Green) and White Teas (Berryblossom White and White Cranberry). Tazo ready-to-drink tea is a super-premium tea made from only the finest ingredients. Tazo teas are fresh brewed from the highest-quality tea leaves, herbs and fruit juices, and are perfectly sweetened with organic cane sugar. New Tazo diet teas are sweetened with Splenda® for the great taste of Tazo with zero calories

Price:$1.39 - $1.49, White may be the new green! Tea that is.....Salada has just expanded its white tea line with 100% Pure White Tea Asian Plum. White tea is harvested in the cloudy mountain mists of China and has a subtle, mellow flavor. White tea is the least processed of any tea and is widely recognized for its antioxidant properties. Each cup contains 190mg of flavonoid antioxidants. White Teas Asian Plum is made from delicate white tea leaves infused with the slightest touch of plum juice from exotic Asian plums.


Aloe breezeThe healing power of Aloe has been revered for centuries — notable fans include Cleopatra. The 21st Century delivers aloe in a whole new light; providing a refreshing twist on functional, hydrating and beauty inspired beverages; Aloe Breeze brings together a hint of exotic flavored water infused with 'super nutrient' Aloe Vera juice. Zero "bad stuff," Aloe Breeze is a revitalizing natural healer that is 95% organic; it has no calories, carbs, artificial sweeteners or preservatives and available in four ambrosial flavors: Orange Mango; Mountain Berry; Cranberry Raspberry; Kiwi Lemon Lime. Price: $1.79, available nationwide,

Frutzzo expertly blends together a variety of juices creating potent antioxidant fighters — the ultimate super juice. Frutzzo provides the recommended daily allowance of antioxidants — and is the perfect antidote for anti-cancer and anti-aging. Available in natural and organic varieties that include 100% pomegranate, 100% pomegranate blends with different fruits such as blueberry, acai, raspberry, passion fruit and cherry. (Also, another little tidbit — everyone believes that it was an apple between Adam and Eve — is was actually a pomegranate!)

Price: $3.99,

Propel powder packets
These packets were developed by the hydration experts at Gatorade. With the same great taste and low-calorie benefits as Propel Fitness Water, Propel Powder Packets provide the added benefit of easier portability — so people can turn plain water into Propel — anytime, anywhere. The new Powder Packets fit easily into a purse, gym bag or locker for the ultimate convenience. Just pour Propel Powder into a 16.9 oz bottle of water (or 20 oz for a lighter taste), shake well and enjoy the great taste and hydration benefits of Propel. Flavors: Berry, Kiwi-Strawberry and Lemon.

Price: Carton of 10 packets retails for $3.49,

DASANI Plus™ Vitamin-enhanced flavored water beverage with zero calories per serving, comes in three varieties:

Refresh & Revive: Kiwi Strawberry flavor has 10% of the reference daily intake (RDI) per serving of Vitamins B3, B6 and B12. Cleanse & Restore: Pomegranate Blackberry flavor contains 10% of the RDI per serving of Vitamins E, B3, B6 and B12, plus 1 gram of fiber.

Defend & Protect: Orange Tangerine flavor provides 10% of the RDI per serving of Vitamin E and Zinc.

Price: 20 fl. oz. SRP $1.19 - $1.49,


For those who want to add a little more kick to their summer beverages comes the latest innovation in cocktails — a single serve package that contains either a mixed cocktail ( kamikaze, lemon drop, purple hooter or sour apple) or just 100% of rum, tequila, vodka or whiskey). Perfect for on the go picnics and parties in an unbreakable plastic pouch.

For more food and health information as well as recipes, check out Phil’s website at

Phil Lempert is food editor of the TODAY show. He welcomes questions and comments, which can be sent to or by using the mail box below. For more about the latest trends on the supermarket shelves, visit Phil’s Web site at .