Ever since coconut water entered the vernacular a decade ago, Tetra Paks have been seen in the hands of lean, fit celebrities— Matthew McConaughey, Chris Pine, Rihanna, Alexa Chung— running to and from the gym.
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Now maple water, already a hit in Canada, is looking to move in on its territory. Similar to its predecessor, this natural drink is packed with electrolytes and potassium but has less than half the sugar (just 3 grams per 8 ounces to coconut water's 10). Still, studies have yet to back up maple water's health claims (It stops hangovers!) Here's what to consider about the next It sports drink.
The nutritional breakdown
The tonic has been a centuries-long staple among Native Americans and Koreans, who drink sap from the gorosoe tree (a type of maple) as a springtime ritual, claiming it can help cure everything from nausea to high blood pressure. It seems they were on to something: Maple water contains 40-plus nutrients and minerals, from energy-boosting B vitamins to more manganese—key for fighting skin-dulling free radicals—than a cup of kale.
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"We're not creating a hot new ingredient in a lab," says nutritionist and DRINKmaple cofounder Kate Weiler. "We're taking something from nature that's been used for years." Consider it the nutritious cousin of the Master Cleanse that stars have been endorsing for decades. But know it's not a perfect water substitute; the beverage contains about 30 calories, whereas plain H2O is calorie-free.
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Despite its indulgent-sounding name, unlike syrup, which is created by boiling copious amounts of sap until it's caramelized, maple water is neither sticky nor ultra-sweet. Its flavor is subtle—think a last sip of brandy diluted by melted ice cubes.
Where to get it
After the beverage cropped up in Canada in 2013, a handful of U.S.-based brands, including DRINKmaple, Vertical Water, and BetterSweet, have hit the shelves of specialty food stores, like the franchise farmers' market Sprouts and New York City's Hu Kitchen, packaged in the same single-serving cartons as coconut water. A Canadian version, Seva, is on offer at Whole Foods.