Photo: Taste of Home
Over the years, Shark Tank has introduced me to some pretty nifty gadgets, technology and treats. Seriously, who among us has not tried a Scrub Daddy sponge? Recently another product really grabbed my attention: Sap! This beverage company from Vermont takes seltzer—something we know and love—and puts a natural and good for you (!!!) spin on it using maple and birch sap. The second I saw this product, the maple-lover in me knew I had to try it along with a few of my Taste of Home pals.
But before we get into the testing, let me just break down what Sap! is for those of you who didn’t tune into Shark Tank. Sap!—yep, there’s an exclamation mark in there—is made of 100% Vermont maple or birch sap that’s been carbonated; no water or sugar added. While these drinks aren’t zero calories like their sparkling water competition, they do offer a lot more than your typical seltzer—most notably they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I’d say that that added mineral boost is worth the 25 to 80 calories that each can holds.
Alright now, for the testing! I grabbed a handful of friends—soda lovers, seltzer lovers and maple lovers—to see how Sap! stacks up.
Sap! Maple Seltzer
Our first foray into Sap! was their trademark maple seltzer. Before we even cracked open a can, we were all pretty excited. This product’s label boasted a lot of benefits: certified organic, GMO free, gluten free, only 9 grams of sugar (for comparison, most sodas have around 40), 40 calories and a whole host of nutritional benefits like antioxidants and minerals. Of course we also took note of the product’s pretty, minimalist packaging.
When it came to the taste, though, don’t expect a big punch of maple flavor. Instead this seltzer offers just a whisper of maple, the same way flavored sparkling waters only offer a hint of lime or grapefruit. My testing crew did really like this light taste, though. Most of us found it to be really refreshing and just slightly sweet—enough to satisfy a mild sugar craving without going overboard.
Bottom line: Refreshing and outdoorsy. We’d drink this again!
Sap! Maple Soda
While we all generally liked the seltzer option, a few of us wanted a bit more maple flavor—enter Sap! maple soda. Made of the same ingredients as its seltzer cousin, the soda variation contains the same healthy vitamins and minerals (thiamin, manganese and riboflavin, to name a few), but has a much more concentrated maple flavor.
Now, when I say this, don’t think that Sap!’s soda is as potent as your favorite maple syrup. Rather it had a pleasant, mellow maple flavor. A few of the testers compared it to a really mild cream soda, and I think that’s a pretty apt comparison. That had us all thinking of the great possibilities for this soda: floats, mixers (it would be great with bourbon!) or even a healthier alternative to your traditional sodas. With only 80 calories, 18 grams of sugar, zero caffeine and 100% organic ingredients, it’s a pretty great substitute for those looking for a healthier version of a sweet treat.
Bottom line: Great mild sweetness. A terrific substitute for soda that we feel good about drinking ourselves and giving to our kids.
Sap! Birch Seltzer
Rounding out the Sap! offering was their sparkling birch water beverage. This flavor definitely stands out from the rest, first and foremost because it’s birch (not maple), but also because it offers nutritional and health benefits different from the maple varieties. The packaging says that birch sap’s “unique combination of minerals, amino and organic acids… can help boost immunity, fight fatigue and detoxify the body.” Well, that sounded pretty good to us—especially at just 25 calories.
Unfortunately, the flavor didn’t quite match those amazing claims. While we loved the idea of all these antioxidants and the immune boosting power, we found that this sparkling water was a slightly bitter and even had a bit of a vinegar taste—”medicinal” was the word than many of us were reaching for. We were sad that this one didn’t quite live up to our expectations, but it’s likely because we don’t have a taste for birch the way we do maple.
Bottom line: Unless you’re a birch fan, stick with Sap!’s maple options.
Overall, we’d consider ourselves Sap! fans. The mild maple flavors of the seltzer and soda were really refreshing and definitely satisfied our cravings for something slightly sweet. We’d skip the birch sparkling water for now, but it was still fun to try. If you’re interested in getting your hands on Sap!, check out their website.