The natural soda market is making inroads on the multinational high-fructose-corn-syrup juggernaut with help from Minnesota’s own Joia brand. When the company debuted a couple years ago, they launched with four flavors: Pineapple/Coconut/Nutmeg, Lime/Hibiscus/Clove, Blackberry/Pomegranate/Ginger, and, my favorite, Grapefruit/Chamomile/Cardamom. They’ve just introduced two new flavors, Ginger/Apricot/Allspice and Orange/Jasmine/Nutmeg, which they sent over for sampling.
The first thing I noticed about the new flavors was the calorie count. By using a blend of pure cane sugar, and two other naturally occurring sweeteners, erythritol and stevia extract, Ginger and Orange have just 60 calories, compared to the original flavors’ 100-ish. So there’s a trade-off there. I don’t particularly like the taste of sugar-substitutes, including stevia—or Truvia, at least—and I could detect hints of it in the new sodas. But compared to other lower-cal beverages, it’s masked fairly well by the other flavors.
Don’t expect ginger beer. The carbonation is softer, the bite of the ginger is more subtle, as is the apricot flavor—warm notes of allspice predominate. Allspice usually reminds me of mulled wine and winter warm-ups, but I was surprised how much I liked it in a delicate, summery beverage.
I didn’t taste the jasmine in this one at all, but the nutmeg makes a nice partner for the juicy orange. Again, nutmeg is a flavor I associate with holiday baking, but it works well playing against type.
We’re looking at 90-degree temps for the next few days, so if you’re looking for a new local refresher, the following stores currently have four-packs on the shelves, with others on the way: Byerly’s St. Louis Park, Southdale and Roseville; Kowalski’s Eagan, Woodbury and Lyndale; and Mississippi Market’s West 7th location.