Testing The Latest Trendy Miracle Food: Is Maple Water the New Coconut Water?

Coconut is all wrong for fall. Fall doesn't call for coconut. Fall calls for pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, and maple.
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Publish date:
October 3, 2014
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Tags:
hydration, maple water, electrolytes

Coconut water may soon be ousted from its super tonic throne, and its successor is delicious.

I was very late to jump on the coconut water train. It's still not my favorite, due to the saliva-like viscosity, but if I mix it with a little cranberry juice or gin I find it to be quite enjoyable (because the flavor is coconut, and I love coconut). When not mixed with gin, it does seem to be quite hydrating. It's helped me get rid of a few headaches and is a pretty decent recovery drink, due to the potassium, small amount of sugar, and sodium.

But by itself, I find the mouthfeel of coconut water to be extremely unappealing. Plus, coconut is all wrong for fall. Fall doesn't call for coconut. Fall calls for pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, and maple.

Maple is best fall flavor of all. It has a complex, sweet and some what mineral-y flavor that is all its own. There are no substitutes for real maple; anyone who has compared real maple syrup with "pancake syrup" knows this.

But when one thinks "maple" they don't think "hydrating." Though maple syrup is delightful, it's not exactly something you would reach for to replenish after a workout or, say, an evening of gin and coconut water cocktails. No one is suggesting you chug syrup, but maple sap (also known as "maple water") is being marketed as the new super-food elixir of health that will cure all that ails you, and it is coming for coconut water.

Maple water (such as maple.) is the pure sap from them maple tree with nothing else added, though it is treated to kill off any yeast or pathogens. This confused me at first, because I assumed that all sap was like pine sap: sticky and thick, but maple sap comes out of the tree quite watery and requires a good bit of boiling to make a syrup. (It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of my favorite pancake topping.)

As is typical with this type of product, it is being presented as a kind of miracle tonic that contains vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, prebiotics, electrolytes, amino acids, antioxidants and "more manganese than a cup of kale." Though there haven't been studies on maple water itself, research conducted in 2011 confirmed the presence of 50 different phytonutrients, including polyphenols and lignans (which have shown anti-inflammatory and antioxidant tendencies) in maple syrup but -- again -- syrup is a much more concentrated form of the sap, so it's unclear if those same compounds are present in any appreciable amount.

What maple water does contain is a little bit of calcium and iron (2% of the recommended daily value for each) and a good bit of manganese (40%), which has been shown to help with bone development, wound healing, and metabolic function. It also has a little bit of sugar (3-4 grams per 8 ounces), making it a good option for keeping your energy up during moderate activity. Unlike coconut water, it doesn't contain sodium or potassium, so if you're looking to replenish those particular electrolytes, you will need to get them from another source. (I personally just take electrolyte pills if I know I'm going to be sweating a ton.)

So it has some health benefits, and is better for you than drinking a bunch of Gatorade or whatever, but the people at DRINKmaple might be going a little bit overboard with the following:

maple. is the perfect way to hydrate and nourish your body with powerful health benefits. maple. water’s benefits are powerful enough to wake up the maple tree from a long winter sleep, so imagine the powerful effects it has to give you the energy and vitality you need.

People are not trees. Trees don't exercise. Trees don't get drunk and reach for their sap as a hangover cure. I get what they're trying to do here but trees and people have very different needs.

That said, the people at DRINKmaple are very nice, and they sent me a three-pack of their maple water to try out. I appreciate that, because taste is what I really care about anyway.

Let's see how it did.

Appearance:

It looks like water. There may be a slight yellowish tint, but that could just be my terrible kitchen lighting.

Viscosity:

Good news everyone: this does not feel like coconut water at all. Maple water is only slightly more viscous than normal water; it's barely detectable. I even had my picky husband (who despises the mouthfeel of coconut water) try it and he declared it completely drinkable.

Flavor:

Even more good news! It tastes of maple! The flavor is delicately sweet and just maple-y enough to keep me coming back for more; I drained all 8 ounces in a matter of minutes. The folks at DRINKmaple suggest serving maple water at around 40 degrees for best flavor, but I think it would be delightful over ice.

Price:

This stuff is kind of pricey. At $3 a bottle, it's three times more expensive than its coconut competitor, but maple. is a much smaller operation. It's also very sustainable and made in the U.S., which is great, but three bucks for eight ounces is still kind of high. (Though really, I'll pay five bucks for a 12-ounce beer, so whatever makes you happy.)

You can buy it here.

Cocktail-ability:

I'm sure the makers of maple. wouldn't approve, but I can't help myself; this would be fantastic with some whiskey. Just a splash with some bourbon or rye, shaken gently with ice and served up in a chilled glass.

In fact, I think I'll go make one right now.

Final Verdict:

Maple water is pretty delicious and definitely has a more pleasant mouthfeel than coconut water. In fact, I'd drink it even if it wasn't good for me at all. All that manganese is an added bonus really. I don't know that it will replace coconut water, as it doesn't contain any sodium or potassium, but I don't see why the two can't live in harmony with coconut water ruling summer and maple dominating the fall crowd.

Plus, if there's one thing we don't seem to tire of, it's trendy "miracle foods." I mean, kale caught on. Given the fact that maple water is much tastier than kale, I don't think it will have any trouble.