Honest Tea Mocha, Mint, and Cherry CocoaNova

The lull in posts has been, in part due to the fact that I'm now moved in and back to school, but also as I've been busy fending off stalkers and restarching my madras shorts. So sorry. With the back to school sales in full throttle and the opening day barbecues as fiery as ever, I've decided to unpack my bags and get back to the daily grind of bloggery.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but chocolate milk is an incredibly nostalgic beverage for me. It seemed like the social hierarchy of kids was divided into chocolate milk preparation and preferences like cocktails are today- did your mom make Nesquik? Buy you bottles of Yoo Hoo? Jugs of Guida? Were you one of those sniffly kids with a lactic intolerance and an eco-bottle of soy milk? The general consensus was that nobody liked the unsweetened Hershey's powder in a can, and for good reason. While at the Fancy Food Show earlier on this year, I picked up a few bottles of Honest Tea's answer to the brilliant beverage, CocoaNova, a new drink made mainly from cocoa beans and herbs.
CocoaNova, which I might add, is vegan for her pleasure, is made with cocoa beans in a similar fashion to herbal tea. They're steeped in water and the cocoa flavor is infused without any of the added fats and sugars typically used in chocolate milk. For lactic die-hards, this may come as a bit of a culture shock. It's not so much chocolate milk as much as a member of the tea family. Each flavor has a very earthy, slightly bitter base with a chicory and chocolate flavor. For the amount of sediment on the bottom, it blends well into the drink with a very smooth texture broken up by a slight solidity on the tongue. It's a very well-made drink, one that I suspect wouldn't be out of place in an organic, pricey coffeehouse in the middle of the East Village. The kind that boasts about booking Melissa Etheridge before she went famous. Namaste, ho!
There are three flavors of CocoaNova- cherry, mint, and mocha. Each is not too sweet or too rich, with a very rustic flavor. They're all the same brackish, unsafe Jersey water brown color, but are fortunately potable. The base is smoothly interchangeable for each flavor, and I genuinely enjoyed them all, but my favorite flavor was probably the mint. This was a revelatory conclusion drawn on my part as I generally reserve mint to necessities like breath mints, toothpaste, and little else. This was best integrated with the chocolate base and imparted a fresh, herbal shade on the drink. It was incredibly refreshing and would probably taste delicious hot as well. The cherry was next on my list, another flavor combination that I generally tend to shy away from, and had a luxurious, bold fruitiness and natural tang similar to that in some wines. It's a very sophisticated and deep taste. I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much.

The only one that didn't quite strike the right chord was the mocha flavor, and that's mainly because I'm spoiled with freshly brewed coffee and Kahlua milkshakes from my honey. It was tasty, but the strength of the chocolate and the coffee duked it out just a bit too much and rendered it more bitter than its predecessors. Tasty, but not my favorite, which confused me as it seemed like the flavor that would work best. Still, these drinks are delicious! A fantastic alternative to chocolate milk with ingredients that won't weigh you down. Even if you do look like that hippie freak from next door, the one whose mom grew Dahlias and packed seaweed snacks and 8-grain flaxwiches in his Envirosack. A small price to pay.

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