From the birthday celebrations you’d attend as a kid to the recess breaks in your elementary school years, few things hydrate in a more refreshing way than your trusty supermarket-bought orange juice.
We think it’s remarkable how Zest-O still looks (and if our memory serves us correct, tastes) the same after all these years—and its popularity doesn’t look to be dying anytime soon.
Sweetness: This kiddie favorite isn’t very sweet, which keeps it remains on the refreshing end of the spectrum—you can take a lot of sips to quench your thirst before the sweetness begins to dry your throat out.
Orange Flavor: While you do get some semblance of the fruit’s characteristic zestiness, the predominant sort of orange flavor you get is one that strikes us as medicinal—a taster even compares it to that of the orange-flavored Vitamin C syrup for kids, Ceelin.
Tanginess: There’s just a hint of acidity toward the end; it’s weaker than we’d like, but it helps offset some of Zest-O’s medicinal-tasting qualities.
Jungle Juice (Php5.75/200ml)
From the package (as well as the taste), you can discern that Jungle Juice is really targeted toward kids.
Sweetness: We’ll go right ahead and say it—this brand is plenty sweet. A few too many guzzles can easily get cloying.
Orange Flavor: Jungle Juice interprets the citrus in an artificial, candy-like way that reminds the author more of the cheap, orange-flavored ice candy sold in sari-sari stores than it does the actual fruit.
Tanginess: You get little to no tang here unfortunately, leaving you with the said candylike orange flavor.
Sun Glo (Php 6.75/200ml)
Interestingly, Sun-Glo is also manufactured by Zest-O (but tastes much better than that of its mother company).
Sweetness: Sun Glo is about at par with Zest-O on this dimension—it’s just sweet enough as you’d expect a juice drink to be, but it hardly gets cloying.
Orange Flavor: Sun Glo takes errs more toward tasting realistically orange-y compared to the previous two, and you get a more distinct zesty, aromatic orange flavor here. There is a slight medicinal note toward the end—but it’s much subtler than Zest-O’s and thus more bearable.
Tanginess: Though not the tangiest, there’s just enough sourness to bolster the zestiness of the orange.
The use of a cup with a covered top as packaging is interesting, we’ll give them that.
Sweetness: In terms of overall sweetness, Refresh technically scores low—if only because their take on the beverage is remarkable watery and borderline bland.
Orange Flavor: Imagine Jungle Juice’s already candy-like take, but not only is Refresh’s even more bubblegum-like and barely tasting of fresh juice; it also tastes far more diluted. As a taster puts it, “parang pinag-hugasan ng Jungle Juice (“it tastes like [you drank] Jungle Juice [from a glass and filled it with water]”). A peek into the ingredient list also reveals there to be no use of orange juice concentrate at all.
Tanginess: Aside from the weak orange flavor, there’s little to no tanginess here. You could argue that the blandness does, in fact, make for a more “refreshing” drink (true to its brand name), but either way we’re not fans of their take.
If you like it sour, Sunkist is your best bet.
Sweetness: Sunkist does err on the sweet side in terms of overall intensity. But this is not so much of an issue as you’ll find it’s well-balanced by the tartness.
Orange Flavor: Sunkist carries a tang-centric orange flavor which can overpower other nuances, but it contributes to a vibrant, refreshing-tasting drink.
Tanginess: As mentioned, there’s a good amount of tanginess here; it’s definitely the tangiest of the bunch.
Minute Maid (Php6/200ml)
We have to give it to Minute Maid for coming up with the most visually appealing packaging.
Sweetness: Minute Maid’s also scores higher on sweetness, but not to the point that it gets cloying—if anything, it helps bolster the underlying orange flavor.
Orange Flavor: The orange here carries a hint of the candy-like quality you find in Jungle Juice, but with more of Zest-O’s and Sun-Glo’s zestiness—making this a good “crossover” drink if you like a bit of both.
Tanginess: The hint of tanginess on this brand really helps bolster the orange flavor and balance out the sweetness.
The Verdict: Sunkist
Sunkist can feel sugary and could use more of orange’s distinctive zestiness, but it remains the brand to beat in terms of vibrance and great flavor balance. Sun-Glo comes close: it’s not as tangy and still carries a hint of a peculiar medicinal taste, but does the job of providing a refreshing orange drink. If you don’t mind a candy-like drink (we see how it can be nostalgic for some), try Jungle Juice, And for the best of both worlds, go for Minute Maid instead. There’s nothing like real orange juice—better yet, actual oranges—but it’s great to know there are affordable, convenient options each carrying their own appeal.