Food & Beverage

5 quirky drink trends for the summer


Evy Tea from Cold Brewed Tea
Source: Cold Brew Tea

Looking for something cool to quench your thirst this summer? Well, there are plenty of quirky new drinks for you to try.

With consumers swapping diet sodas in favor of non-fizzy beverages such as cold-brewed coffee and coconut water, a few brands are hoping to stand out by offering a new choice — usually one that appears to be a "better-for-you" alternative.

Two-thirds of Americans say they sometimes or frequently purchase new or different beverages, and 18 percent say they drink a wide variety of beverages, according to research from Mintel.

"While the non-alcoholic beverage market is innovating to address consumer interest in healthy options, taste and flavor remain the most influential reasons for consumption," Elizabeth Sisel, a beverage analyst for Mintel, said in a statement in March. "No matter how healthy a drink is, if it doesn't taste good consumers won't buy it, and the amount of available products on the market makes it easy for consumers to simply move to another option."

From cold-brewed teas to sodas made out of drinkable vinegar, here are six beverages to satisfy your summer thirst.

— By CNBC's Sarah Whitten
Posted 01 July 2016

Cold-brewed tea

Cham Cold Brewed Wellness Teas
Source: Drink Cham

In 2015, Americans consumed more than 80 billion cups of tea, according to the Tea Association. While around four out of five people drink tea, a whopping 87 percent of millennials are consuming the popular beverage. It's no wonder companies are hoping to cater to their taste buds.

The newest trend in tea is the cold-brew. Much like cold-brewed coffee, cold-brewed tea is all about extracting flavor. Instead of pouring hot water over the leaves, bottlers let the tea infuse in cold water for upward of 12 hours.

"Unlike boiling water, which often burns and damages tea leaves, cold water allows the tea to bloom slowly while releasing only the most delicate flavors without any bitterness," Evy Tea, a company which cold-brews its bottled teas for 16 hours, writes on its website.

Last year, cold-brewed coffee helped boost summer sales for many U.S. coffee shops. Peet's Coffee & Tea, one of the nation's biggest coffee chains with about 400 stores, replaced traditional iced coffee with cold brew in June of last year, and saw cold brew sales exceed the previous year's iced coffee sales by as much as 70 percent.

Evy Tea isn't the only company hoping to cash in on cold-brewed tea. Cham, a company which brews wellness teas, has its own selection of cold-brewed beverages flavored with fruit and honey.

Love Beets

Love Beets
Source: Love Beets

Love Beets wants you to drink marinated beet juice.

The company, which originated in England, found a home in the U.S. selling a variety of beet root products including baby beets, shredded beet salads and, yes, beet juice.

The product has become a trend in some sports circles, with athletes drinking beet juice — which is high in nitrates — before practices and games to help boost blood flow and stamina.

Love Beets touts the health benefits of the product on its website, including improving liver and heart health, decreasing anemia and fatigue and improving "bad" cholesterol.

If beet juice is to become mainstream, it has to taste good, Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, told CNBC.

Some 72 percent of consumers use taste and flavor to determine their go-to beverages, according to Mintel. If it doesn't taste good, consumers may not bite.

Drinking vinegar

Pok Pok Som
Source: Pok Pok Som

If you fancy yourself an adventurous eater, then Pok Pok Som's drinking vinegar might suit you. The company's soda alternative is made from vinegar and is infused with fruits, vegetables and sugar depending on the flavor.

While some niche markets may find the product appealing, Harris noted that it's not likely drinking vinegar will become part of the mainstream. Particularly, because consumers often have preconceived notions about the bitterness and acidity of vinegar.

Pok Pok Som sells concentrated non-carbonated versions of its soda, which can be used for cooking.

Ginseng Up

Ginseng Up
Source: Ginseng Up

Folks looking for caffeine substitutes and herbal energy drinks have turned to ginseng in recent years. Although the herb has been a longstanding ingredient in the beverage market, it's becoming more popular with millennials.

Cane sugar sweetened Ginseng Up isn't an energy drink, but does claim to fight fatigue. The company, which launched in 1981, is about to bring a new flavor to its lineup of ginseng infused sodas: cranberry.

The company sells a variety of flavors including cola, orange, apple, lemon-lime and ginger, among others.

"I'm surprised that [ginseng] is as big as it is," Harris said. "It's been around for a long time."

And it will likely get bigger, according to Harris. He said that it will be "overdone" by companies hoping to hop in on the hype.

Don't be surprised if you see major brands like Coke or Pepsi adding ginseng to the mix sometime in the future.

Cide Road Switchel

Cide Road
Source: Cide Road

You may not have heard of switchel, but Cide Road wants it to be your next go-to drink.

Touted as a cure for a "mean hangover," switchel is a made from apple cider vinegar, ginger, water and natural sweeteners like maple syrup and cane sugar.

Cide Road, which is based in New Jersey, offers three flavors of their organic switchel: maple and ginger, blueberry and cherry.

"Ginger beer and Moscow mules, those kinds of ginger-based drinks are making a pretty big comeback," Harris said, explaining that switchel is a natural progression of that growing trend.