Our Definitive Zest-O Ranking: Which Flavors Taste Closest to the Real Thing?August 12, 2019
Our childhood wouldn’t be the same without Zest-O juice drinks. A staple of lunchboxes, birthday parties, and households across the country, these refreshing beverages have won over the nation with their convenient doypack packaging (sealed bags made with plastic and aluminum that are made to stand upright) and cheap price points. Today, Zest-O comes in eight flavors, all claiming to contain “natural juice” and a number of essential vitamins in the mix. But how do they compare to genuine fruit juice? Here we’ve ranked all eight flavors, from the least realistic to the ones closest to the real thing:
Zest-O’s take on strawberry tastes especially artificial. With hardly any tang for balance, it immediately brings to mind cough syrup (Tempra, to be specific). This is the flavor for you if you’re after the taste of medicine… or lipstick.
Zest-O goes for a more candylike interpretation for their grape variant. It has the flavor of the grape-flavored jellies we enjoyed in our childhood, just in juice format. Artificial as it was, it triggered nostalgic feelings in us nonetheless.
Put simply, Zest-O’s take on pineapple tastes more like vinegar than fruit. It starts watery and introduces sourness toward the end, but the said sourness is less of the fragrant fruity kind and more of the petroleum-y acidic kind you get with local white vinegar. As fresh pineapples are abundant in the Philippines, we wonder how the flavor got lost in translation.
Drawing from our childhood memories, we had high expectations for this iconic Zest-O variant. But it tastes different from how we remember, smelling like cheap orange candy and tasting medicinal (like Ceelin, in particular). “Tastes like cost-cutting at the Zesto plant,” remarks a member of the team. If anything, it’s not too sweet and has a hint of tang for balance.
The mango variant tastes less like the fresh fruit and more like its dried counterpart. It starts watery, before bringing a concentrated mango-y aftertaste with a mild sweetness. “[It] tastes nothing like real mango,” comments one of our team members, “but I would order it every time.”
Apple is perhaps the second most popular Zest-O variant. It tastes much like real apple juice, just watered down and sweetened a tad—which, given the price point, we mean as a compliment. Aside from that it’s rather blah, but hey, it does the job of satisfying an apple juice craving for cheap.
Guyabano is an underrated player in Zest-O’s roster. The texture is thin, but it has a distinctive tropical flavor that’s comparable to lychee (a member of the team who had never tasted guyabano compares it to Lychee Mogu Mogu), brightened up with a good tang—similar to the real fruit.
Zest-O’s calamansi variant tastes surprisingly close to real bottled calamansi concentrate. It’s more sweet than sour, but is amply tangy nonetheless, carrying the distinctive fragrance and zestiness of the Filipino citrus.