Warmer temperatures. Get-togethers. Blue skies and sunshine. Minnesota days by the river or the lake. It’s what I have been waiting for. With that comes the season I like to start trying different beverages. The great people at So Zen decided to ask me to try their new alcoholic line of all-natural and gluten-free drinks. Now, keep in mind – I’m not known to be a beer drinker. I’m more of a wine, hard cider, or sparkling beverage person. Regardless, if it tastes good – I’ll be a fan. But certain things have to come with that.
Whatever I’m drinking, I want it to agree with me. I have a finicky stomach due to having a sensitivity to certain classes of carbohydrates. I’m also a person who minds her macros – meaning I count my carbs, protein, and fats. This is because I’m a competitive powerlifter who is still on a health journey path. So, if I am going to “budget” an allowance for a drink over eating something for fuel/enjoyment, it better be worth it. Spoken like a true health freak. I know. There are worse things in life.
When I learned that So Zen was only 100 calories a can, was gluten-free, and all-natural – it piqued my curiosity. The company was infusing natural botanicals – not the fake stuff – in their drinks. So here is the low-down. My play-by-play. This took several taste tests over a couple of different days to make sure I had my interpretations consistent on the different flavors they have. Oh, and for those wondering, it’s 4.7% ABV in these drinks. So Zen is not a beer, it’s not a cider, it’s different. This is a cold steeped craft beverage.
Smooth going down. That’s the first thing I notice. I can smell citrus. It’s refreshing. I initially could not guess the fruit, but I knew it was in there. I looked at the label. Papaya. I was surprised because I have a history of not being the biggest fan of papaya. Long story, but it involved a history of chopping and dicing it repeatedly. Past papaya overload PTSD. LOL. That being said, I can get behind this. It’s not overpowering, and the combination of black and green tea, along with the lemongrass, works for me. The lemongrass sneaks up on me after a couple of sips. It’s a natural progression as your drinking it. It’s nice that way vs. “oh hey, where did that come from.”
I feel I could pair this with whatever you would like to enjoy with a Pinot Grigio. Keep in mind – The Original is not dry, which makes it a delight with or without food.
I can smell the peppercorn! I love that! Refreshing. I can tell this is meant to feel like a cool and calm beverage for any occasion. Right off the first sip, I can taste the cucumber and basil. There’s a hint of cilantro. Now, I LOVE cilantro. I do realize that not everyone is on team cilantro, but that being said – I think no one would have any issue enjoying this, whether that herb is a friend or foe. You are not being hit with it. It’s sneaky. This is due to the mix of rose hips and peppercorn – they do their thing to balance it out.
Don’t be misguided by the ingredients. This does not have a “floral” flavor to it. This is level and would work with a variety of meals. What comes to my mind is a light salad, a chicken dinner, salmon or tuna with veggies, and wild rice. That’s what my inner foodie is telling me to enjoy with this drink.
Rock my socks off. This is a fun drink. The first thing I notice is a sweet floral and minty smell. It’s incredibly pleasing. The color is vivid. It’s incredible how the pigment is so vibrant yet natural. The drink tastes like summer. This is something I can enjoy with dessert or on its own. You can taste the hibiscus, mint, and lemon. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable pairing. I would like to try swapping the mint with orange just because I think that would be an excellent combination as well. There could easily be two versions of this drink.
If I were to enjoy this with any food – it would be dessert. A lemon bar, a rhubarb apple crumble, a citrus gelato, or perhaps a fruit and yogurt granola.
Yours truly is a cinnamon fanatic, so I was excited to try this flavor! You’re probably thinking, “oh, this is going to be pumpkin spice,” but hold up! THIS is different and so much better! So many companies abuse cinnamon and warming spices in general with beverages and leave an undesirable aftertaste in your mouth. Not in this drink! The blend of spices is different – and that’s why this drink shines.
How does it smell?
Like I blended my own combination of spices vs. using a store-bought blend. It’s that good and fragrant! When you drink Blue Cinnamon, you feel like you’re getting a warm hug. I instantly want to be around a campfire or sit by the lake and take in a gorgeous Minnesota evening.
This drink is even, tasteful, and inviting. Sure, you get cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove – but the key spices that set this apart and make it sing are the addition of ginger, star anise, and peppercorn. That’s what sets it apart from Pumpkin Spice.
I genuinely want to bake with this beverage. On the weekends, I bake sourdough bread, and this would be exceptional in my cinnamon raisin loaves. Check back for an update on that experiment!
Pair Blue Cinnamon with coffee cake, carrot cake, pumpkin bars, and pecan pie. Try it with a weekend breakfast with pancakes or French Toast.
Fun! So Zen Cold Steeped Beverages taste great, do not give me any stomach troubles, or leave me feeling “off” at all: bonus, no bad aftertaste or breath from these. This is going to be my go-to canned alcoholic beverage. If I had to rank these, I would say Coral, Blue Cinnamon, The Original, and then Medley.
Have you tried So Zen? What did you think? Drop a comment below!