Is cactus water worth the hype? Why tea company Steaz chose to use it for new infused drink
Thanks to cactus water's unique nutritional properties and taste that sets it apart from the likes of coconut and maple waters, the company is among a number of brands turning to the beverage.
Organic ready-to-drink iced tea company Steaz saw cactus water as an ideal ingredient for a new flavor combination. Established in 2002 and headquartered in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Steaz produces several varieties of canned organic green tea and energy beverages. All products are made using certified fair trade green teas from Kenya, and certified fair trade cane sugar from Paraguay.
Its new line of green tea is infused with cactus water (launched March 2016) and lightly sweetened with stevia. Available in plain, cucumber and starfruit flavors at $2.69 per 12-oz can, each can is about 50 calories (about 40 fewer than most flavored coconut waters).
Prickly pear cactus
Cactus water derives from the juice of the prickly pear cactus. It has been historically used for its medicinal and nutritional properties in geographic areas with desert-like conditions such as Mexico, South America, and parts of the US where the plant flourishes. From early spring to summer, the cactus blossoms with fruit lining the edges of the pads where moisture is stored, according to Journal of Food Science and Technology.
The general practice of producing cactus water involves juicing and pureeing the blossomed fruits, which grow on the green pads, and then combining it with filtered water and other desired flavors.
‘Light, berry-like flavor’
Multiple cactus water brands, including Caliwater, True Nopal, and Steaz, all say the beverage has a less distinctive and more relatable taste due to its naturally fruity flavor.
“Prickly pear fruit, which is the source of the cactus water in Steaz Cactus Water, has a light, berry-like flavor to it that we think is flavorful but not overpowering,” Steaz CEO Linda Barron told BeverageDaily.
“Steaz Cactus Water with Cucumber and Green Tea, and Steaz Cactus Water with Starfruit and Green Tea, both have the flavor of cucumber and starfruit, respectively, added to the beverage. We think this pairs well with the unique blend of green tea and cactus water’s berry-like taste.”
The process to develop the hybrid drink’s taste was a lengthy and meticulous, according to Barron.
“We are diligent about using ingredients with nutritional integrity and in our research of ingredients to ensure all our Steaz beverage developments offer unique flavor combinations,” said Barron.
“Once we decided to move forward with the creation and launch of Steaz Cactus Water, it took us months to develop the perfect recipe for all three of our flavors.”
A beverage for everyone
Long considered a medical panacea, prickly pear juice has been consumed for hundreds of years in Mexico and South America. Many of those purported health claims still compel people to consume the drink today, according to the Journal of Food Science and Technology.
As for the nutritional properties, cactus water claims to contain antioxidants known as betalains, which help reduce inflammation in the body, maintain cell function, and help fight free radicals. Cactus water also contains five naturally-occurring electrolytes, vitamins and minerals that aid in hydration.
Steaz believes everyone can enjoy the beverage, and athletes and the health-conscious in particular will benefit from the ultra-hydrating drink.