Since drink mix sticks have become one of my most reviewed categories, I’m not going to waste precious time explaining how I drink them because I hate water. Because I’ve already done that. Nor will I rant about how the price of them have gone up at least two quarters everywhere within the past few months. Drink mixes used to be about $1.29 at Aldi stores, and have now shot up to nearly $2. Or how the “energy” line of drink mixes are fairly new to Aldi (at least, I hadn’t seen them before the first time I did). No, I’m not going to mention any of those things, dear reader, because I know your time is more valuable than that.
Here we have PurAqua’s Peach Mango sticks, which were only an option because I like trying them all. Don’t get me wrong, I like peach and I like mango. But I like real peaches and real mangoes. It’s no different than people who like fruits, but don’t like candy flavored like that fruit. There’s just something lost in translation between a real banana, and a banana taffy, for example. It’s the same with powdered beverages: They’re nothing like the real thing.
Except, sometimes they are. This packs in some strong flavor, but then again, so do mangoes. What caught me off guard is how accurate the mango is. Maybe it’s because I had such low expectations, but it hits the tastebuds in a similar way to actual mangoes. It won’t fool you into thinking you’re drinking fresh-pressed juice, but for what it is, it’s admirable. The peach is probably the weakest link here; it’s more artificial, like the kind you get in most store-bought peach teas. But the blend of both work very well together.
I will say the whole combination is way sweeter than it should be in real life. It tastes like there is sugar added. There isn’t – there’s as much sugar as real juice in these (0%) – but it’s definitely strong. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on personal preference. I don’t mind it all that much. But my wife, on the other hand, was put off by it; others who share her taste for “dryer” less sweet beverages will feel the same way. Then again, most drink sticks do skewer toward the sweet, so chances are those type of people already avoid these.
The “energy” moniker across this line is somewhat misleading. Well, misleading is too strong a term because there is caffeine in it, but only 60mg. According to “the internet”, that’s about 30mg less than the average cup of coffee. An average “cup”, meaning 8 oz. These sticks are made for double that amount of water. That means it probably won’t do much for avid drinkers of coffee, who are already accustomed to higher caffeine content. It will do even less for people used to downing energy drinks and shots, which contain at least two times as much. So then, who are these really for? Those sensitive to caffeine? People who just need to stay awake for an extra five minutes? People who are weening themselves off of caffeine entirely and need a bridge between this and cold turkey? I don’t really understand it at all.
It’s kind of odd how companies seem to struggle adapting the most basic flavors into powders. All versions of strawberry drinks, for example, taste very similar, and nothing like actual strawberries. Ditto that for grape. They all follow the same profiles, rather than going for accuracy. And then you have this, which takes one of the more complex fruits, and manages to do a respectable job of emulating it. There must be a huge mango fan at PurAqua, because this does the fruit justice.
At least, as much justice as a powdered drink can.
Overall: 7.5/10. Yep, that’s right: A score in the mid-7s. I had very little hope for these, but this potentially dreadful combination of mango and peach just about knocked my socks off. The mango flavor is pretty intense, and surprisingly accurate. The peach is less so – it’s more the artificial “candy” style peach – but the combination is still better than it should be. It’s very sweet, which will turn off some, but most powdered drink mixes are. The main drawback is the paltry 60mg of caffeine, which is lower than similar drinks on the market. That will be too weak for most people looking for a kick. That aside, this is still a drink worth exploring for those who like mango.