Taste Test

Tang, Eight O’Clock, Oishi Sundays, or Nesfruta? Our Powdered Orange Juice Drink Taste Test

May 6, 2018

The heat and humidity in the Philippines (particularly during the summer) can easily suck the sanity out of anyone in this country, for which reason many turn to the refreshing power of juice drinks—in particular, instant powdered juice drink mixes. Distinctly different from their freshly-squeezed or pressed counterparts, they offer a sweeter, more candy-esque orange profile that pleases palates across ages, plus a couple of advantages. They’re easy to prepare (stir them in water and drink away), convenient (most supermarkets and sari-sari stores carry them), affordable (you get liter’s worth for less than 20 bucks), and shelf-stable (stock up and mix as needed). With a couple of brands available though, which one ranks best?

Note: We prepared each juice drink’s brand according to package instructions, using cold water of the same temperature, to make enough for 1 Liter. For consistency, we mixed and tasted each resulting prepared mixed drink sans ice.

Eight O’Clock

Eight O’Clock gives you the sweetest mix of the bunch. Php26.95/87.5g, good for 2.5L; as the package states, use 3 tbsp mix to make 1 Liter.

As a disclaimer, this homegrown brand does proclaim its mix to be “more concentrated” right on the packaging. Sipped straight up it’s very sweet, before proceeding to deliver a mouth-puckering, in-your-face sourness that lingers after you’ve swallowed. Adding ice cubes is thus a must here (during which it retains its decidedly candy-like sense of being orange-flavored, but at least feels far less cloying)—but this also gives it the advantage of letting you pour more servings per liter.

Nesfruta

Nesfruta’s held much promise, but we think it could use improvement. Php17.50/25g, good for 1L

Boasting of being made with real fruit powder (technically “Orange fruit powder” in the ingredient list, consisting of “orange juice concentrate, maltodextrin, and natural orange flavor”), we had higher expectations from this brand. True enough it has a mellow but sunny citrus tone to it that we like, and it’s far less sweet than Eight O’Clock. It’s less sour than all other brands though—something which shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but in this case works to its disadvantage as it skews the flavor balance closer toward sweetness. Also present is a peculiar taste we can best describe as oddly milky or oily (or, as another taster not informed of its having real fruit powder proclaims, even “chemical-tasting”) that comes through toward the end of each sip, getting in the way of what would’ve been great orange flavor, and the resulting sensation for us is flat at best (and a disappointment either way).

Oishi Sundays

A surprisingly refreshing find from a brand known for its range of snacks. Php16.75/35g, good for 1L

Oishi’s is the least sweet of the brands on the list—not in a way that it’s bland, mind you, but in that it’s deliciously drinkable, sans the need for extra ice. The sourness isn’t as potent as Eight O’Clock’s or Tang’s, but it’s bright in a way that better resembles freshly-squeezed citrus. A distinct zestiness that a taster describes as “floral in the way [native citrus fruit] dalandan is” (or calamansi, for the author) makes for an especially vibrant conclusion that keeps us coming back, glass after glass.

Tang

Tang’s version is reliable and familiar. Php16.75/25g, good for 1L

Tang bears a similar profile to Eight O’Clock’s, but does so with a better balance of flavors. You get roughly the same amount of tanginess, and though still on the sweet side, it’s far less sugary than its aforementioned top rival. You also get a zestier finish, similar to (though not as clearly discernible as) what you’ll find on Oishi’s, that steers this relatively close to tasting like the real thing.

The Verdict: Oishi Sundays

Surprise, surprise—with its just-right sweetness, balanced brightness, and overall refreshing feel, Oishi is our top pick for having the best-tasting instant orange juice drink mix in the (super) market. Tang’s scores very close, despite being of a different style; go for this brand if you’re deliberately after a sweeter, stronger-tasting mix reliably loved by kids and adults alike.

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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