Webster defines “hibiscus” as a word from the Latin, “any of a large genus of herbs, shrubs, or small trees of the mallow family with large showy flowers and usually dentate leaves.” So it’s rather interesting to see a beverage like OOBA that advertises that it contains “the power of the flower.” Nevertheless, we take a look at this family of sparkling beverage flavors with the flagship, OOBA Hibiscus.
So what exactly is OOBA? The name is an acronym for “One of Botany’s Advantages.” It’s part of the recent batch of nutrient-oriented functional beverages to hit the marketplace, offering a unique twist on a fruit juice inspired drink. In this case, the drink gets its primary flavoring from the hibiscus flower. Combined with cane sugar and carbonated water, it fits along side other juice drinks like Pom, Izze, and SoBe.
The big differentiator with OOBA beyond the use of hibiscus as the flavor is the fact that the drinks including a high amount of antioxidants and Vitamin C. There isn’t much really in the drink if you look at the ingredients:
Carbonated water, cane sugar, pure hibiscus extract, citric acid, and ascorbic acid
I really have to applaud the folks at OOBA on their packaging as well. It’s unique and distinctive, featuring 16 oz. bottles that are wide at the bottom, narrow at the top, almost pyramid-like is shape. Each flavor also differentiates itself through a color (for example, the main flavor features a red/pink scheme) and clear typography to showcase the drink. Finally, the OOBA brand logo is quite attractive, even if you don’t know what it is or how in the world to pronounce it (It’s like the “oo” in “zoo”).
When you open a bottle, the scent isn’t very strong, but what you do smell has a fruity quality. The color of the beverage is dark redish, like cranberry juice. And when you actually taste it, those comparisons to cranberry continue, as it tastes a lot like a carbonated cranberry fruit drink. It’s not as tart or bitter as cranberry juice, but rather light and effervescent. It tastes far more authentic than something like Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash.
I really wonder if the cranberry comparison was just something in my head, but then this line from the Hibiscus Wikipedia entry seemed to confirm it: “In Mexico, the drink is known as agua de Flor de Jamaica and is quite popular for its color, tanginess and mild flavor; once sugar is added, it tastes somewhat like cranberry juice.” It was a great flavor to experience.
A full 16 oz. bottle contains 180 calories, 10 mg of sodium, and 44 g of carbs (of which 40 g are sugars). It will also provide you with 50% of your recommended daily value for Vitamin C.
Every now and then you get to taste a drink and really like the experience. I’m happy to say that OOBA Hibiscus falls into that category. We really loved the sparkling cranberry-like taste, creative packaging, and clear market positioning of this drink. If you get a chance to track it down, and are looking for something just a little different, OOBA should be on your list!