Strawberries are one of those fruits that never fail to surprise us. In a world awash in artificial strawberry flavors, it’s inevitable that the fake taste is the one we generally associate with the fruit in our brains.
Which makes a bite into a real strawberry a revelation every time.
They’re so complex! They’re sweet, sour, herbal, bitter, layered, and taste like nothing else. And have you ever eaten a wild one?
If you stumble upon one in a meadow or forest, just happening to glimpse the tiny, bright red flash under a carpet of green underbrush, your mind will never be the same. So much s t r a w b e r r y packed into the smallest possible fruit, sun-ripened sugar and citric acid, you realize you have found the source of all goodness. The giant watery frankensteins in the grocery store are a pale imitation, just shadows in Plato’s cave.
But ok. While Good & Gather, we’re sure, does not source wild-crafted strawberries hand-plucked from some verdant woodland, they do manage to achieve the most complex strawberry we’ve yet found in a sparkling water.
On first crack of the can, the strawberry dominates the nose, perhaps veering into the saccharine, but it’s citric enough to make our mouth water a little in anticipation.
Your heart skips a beat wondering the ultimate question: will this be one strawberry flavor in a long-line of Starburst cloying-ness…or the real fragarian deal?
You raise your can to your lips to find out.
The first sip does not disappoint! The strawberry arrives fully formed, but not overripe, a sweet, deep red bathing a zingy pale center. Essences of mid-summer picnic and frolicking fawns.
The mango is immediately present too, in all its fleshy glory. Mango is another one of those fruits that’s hard to get right: the flavor of a real mango is labyrinthine, decadently sweet while at the same time tangy, sour and earthy.
Alas, Good & Gather doesn’t evoke the mango quite as well as the strawberry. It’s mostly sweet notes, which are used here to balance out the strawberry’s acidity. While we understand the decision, and it might just be more about our personal preference, we’d want a slightly more realistic mango, to taste more of the plant.
But again, when you hear the phrase “Strawberry Mango,” you’re expecting something sweet, fruity and candylike. Smoothies, or a Starburst. And we don’t want to be the weirdos who rain on the mango parade, insisting on tasting the stems, roots, skins, and dirt. So we won’t.
Strawberry mango as a genre is a simple pleasure, and overall, Good & Gather nails it almost perfectly.
We do really like these.
Carbonated Water, Natural Flavor