Liquid Happiness

When I was a baby and through my younger years, my parents had to force me to eat. Much later, I got into the habit of finishing everything on my plate, but I still have a soft spot for drinks. Sure, food is amazing and I constantly think about it, even following an eat-a-thon at a buffet (though the amount of times that I’ve been to one have dwindled within the past years), but there are just some things that food can’t do and that’s when these guys step in (in no particular order)…

Milk. My favorite drink since birth (literally, hah) – I prefer the skim milk variety. It’s so versatile in that it’s great alone, ingested with other things (cookies and milk anyone?), flavored (walnut and breakfast milks in China and banana milk in Korea completely rock my socks, in addition to the classic chocolate milk and bedtime milk that’s steeped with fresh ginger and spices), and used in food. It also helps because though my tolerance for spicy food has considerably risen after my year in Korea, it’s still not all that great. That’s when Milk comes to the Rescue!

There are a ton of healthy drinks out there. My favorite, by far, is Odwalla’s Superfood Fruit Juice. It is amazing. The only thing stopping me from buying it as much as I’d like is that it’s a bit pricey, usually going for around 8 USD per 64 fluid ounces (2 quarts), or around 3 USD per personal-sized bottle. It’s a green concoction that’s a bit thick – good thing I love green drinks, as my usual breakfast consists of a green smoothie – but the smell’s unique.. smelling fruity but more mellow. The texture is smooth and the taste is an amalgamation of exactly what, I couldn’t tell you, but with the amount of purees in there, I won’t try to think too much of it. And it’s full of vitamins!

Many people may not think of protein drinks when they think of a favorite beverage, but I’ve realised that I have odd taste buds, because I actually love things with protein in it – protein smoothies, drinks, bars… Under this category, I love Naked’s Protein Zone Juice Smoothie, though not everyone may share the same opinion. Why? ‘Cos it’s tropical sounding with apples, banana, oranges, pineapples, and coconut. It’s fruity and I adored that grainy aftertaste; probably the reason why I love items with protein. I loved it so much (and this was before I realised the effect of protein drinks, mind you) that I would save up the four bucks needed to buy a bottle every other day and as a starving college student, that means a lot. I now have this drink to thank for my overly large calves because that was the semester I was always late to a class that required me to speed-climb up 5 flights of stairs. Awesome. Good to know it works.

Next comes Sambazon’s Açaí Fruit Juice – you know, that superfruit that’s packed full of antioxidants that may play a part in reducing the occurrence of some diseases as well as keep you looking younger. I personally love everything about this product. The color’s an awesome deep purple, the texture is smooth and a little thicker (rather similar to Odwalla’s Superfood), and the taste also reminds me of Superfood as well… I guess there’s a trend here. Anyway, the juice isn’t all that tart and it’s a little sweet – but in a subtle fashion. There’s also that little mellowing off as well – in other words, for most generic juices, I have to dilute it with water, but not this! You know what makes everything so much better? It’s healthy. It’s also slightly cheaper than the following item on my “list”, going at two bottles for $9.99.

POM – the tart pomegranate juice of choice that reminds me of my vinegar drink that was my post-workout beverage back in Korea. Honestly, I usually have to dilute POM a little bit to roughly two parts juice and one part water (sometimes, I also do fifty-fifty), but I still love it. I also love POM’s tea blends, but since I’m on a roll with superfoods… I’ll just mention it – but note that all of their products are much loved. As we all know, the pomegranate is another fruit that’s also great for one’s health: it’s also high in antioxidants and studies have shown that it can be used to prevent heart disease (hence the cute heart on the bottle) as well as lower blood pressure. No wonder it’s almost nine bucks for a bottle. They used to sell them in glass containers as well, but they don’t anymore. Still tastes good, though. I also love the pomegranate sediment at the bottom of my cup if I don’t shake it a bit or stir after letting it sit for a while.

I’m not very fond of nuts, but there are moments where they shine and this is one of them –– behold, Almond Tea. I first encountered this delicious, chug-worthy drink while in Taiwan. It was being sold at a stand and I was curious (and thirsty), so I ordered a cup. It was cold and it looked milky (though I’m sure there’s also a savoury and hot version; it even vaguely reminded me of horchata because of the color. Afterwards, every time I encountered it on the street, I would order a cup. See, I love that taste of almonds in baked goods and this was almond extract intensified and stuck in one single cup – there was also almond schtuff (sediment bits) that was in the drink too and it wasn’t as sickly sweet as horchata (don’t get me wrong, I still like horchata and I had a craving for it three weeks ago). I like the real deal and this drink was it. I’m also sure it’s not all too healthy for you, but I’m a vegetarian, right? I need all the protein I can get. 🙂 You should have seen my face when I saw a plastic jar of almond tea mix at a local Asian market, of the same brand that’s pictured. Now, it’s a regular addition to my morning breakfast smoothie.

Now to make things a little more interesting, since I’ve been sticking with drinks based off of one thing that appears to be of the healthy variety, this paragraph’s to the Taiwanese bubble tea, also known as boba, pearls, or tapioca. I’m not a complete health nut!! Personally, I never really called it bubble tea, but what-have-you. This is probably the most unhealthy drink on this list, but it’s my guilty pleasure so it’s up. In college, I would go to the nearby tapioca place every Friday to reward myself for finishing up another week of school relatively unscathed. It later became a treat after major exams, because these drinks can get pretty high in calories with the sugar and/or cream that goes into one, depending on what you get. See, boba drinks refer to the “bubbles” you see at the bottom, made from tapioca taken from the cassava root. They’re chewy and I love chewy things. Those things aren’t all that good for you due to the high amount of carbohydrates and not much else. Also, be careful when you buy them – some companies might produce them in questionable ways (or with questionable ingredients). These days, I also like substituting the boba for other things like jellies or puddings. The drink itself, however, can range from being relatively ‘healthy’ like an unsweetened tea all the way to something like a double chocolate shake. I love taro, almond, lavender, and green tea boba drinks of the shake variety.

If I find myself ever craving more vegetables, I refer to the amazing V8-in-a-can. My favorite for my veggie needs (honestly, I don’t exactly love vegetables but I’m more of a veggie person than a fruit person – don’t ask – unless I’m in Asia.. I love fruits in Asia) is contained in this and I love the taste – but I’m the only one in my family who does. I also love the new V8  Fusion Juices that give you a single serving of fruit and veggies as opposed to only veggies that the original V8 does. However, V8 Fusion is a bit more expensive and is higher in sugar so I don’t buy it as much. Speaking of which, V8 is also high in sodium, but that’s why I get the low-sodium variety. It has this lovely taste reminiscent of tomatoes, but with more texture, leaving a nice metallic aftertaste. I’m not actually mocking anything – in all actuality, I like the drink for its slight metallic aftertaste, even if I get it in the plastic container. Don’t judge.

And now last, but definitely not least, is my favorite caffeinated drink (minus tea.. I include that under the boba paragraph.. ^^;): caffe mocha. My love for coffee of all sorts began when my grandpa used to make me this tiny cup of Vietnamese coffee – really strong coffee mixed with condensed milk – when he makes some for himself back when I was tiny ever since I could remember. My dad continued this when I wasn’t visiting my grandparents over the holidays. In Korea, my love for the beverage started up again with the sheer amount of independently own coffee shops and the fact that I started going nearly every day. I pretty much tried everything on the menu by the time I returned to the States – the classic Korean favorite, the Americano, macchiatos, espressos, caffe latte… However, I still loved the caffe mocha because it has chocolate in it – what else? It makes the entire drink a little sweeter and it usually comes with a design on top. Oh, and whipped cream, but I usually opt out. Oh, just thinking about it makes me miss my old coffee shop…

Now that we’ve seen a glimpse of some of my [semi-] thirst-quenching favorites, let’s take a peek at fifty of the world’s most delicious drinks. Of them, I’ve had the pleasure of drinking mango lassi, Red Bull, Yakult, Pina Colada, Sujeonggwa (great stuff and I also love me some sikhye), coconut water, martini, champagne, carrot juice, Bailey’s original Irish cream, sparkling water, chocolate milkshake, Thai iced tea, Irish car bomb, bubble tea (^^), milk, Gatorade, eggnog, white wine, lemonade, sake, kool-aid, hot chocolate with marshmallows, red wine, orange juice, tea, beer, coffee, coca-cola, and water. Thirty out of fifty isn’t all that bad, methinks.

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