Trying New Things: Aloe Water

Posted: August 6, 2011 in South Korea
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Stock photo, not my preferred brand; in fact, I've never heard of this 2nd rate brand.

Part of the allure of coming to South Korea — and how I justified leaving the friendly confines of the United States (as if I had much of a choice) — was the opportunity to try new things.  New foods, new cultural customs, new beverages, and even new styles:

I'd look good in skinny jeans, right? RIGHT?

OK, maybe not new styles, but you get the idea.  The first in this goal of new experiences when I arrived in South Korea (I know, a long overdue post) was aloe water, a common drink in any convenience store and otherwise known as aloe vera juice.  Yes, this very beverage contains the same plant extracts as those in lotions that make your hands silky smooth or soothe that nasty sunburn you got from too many hours and too many beers canoeing on the river.

I had never heard of aloe water before I made it to Korea.  I’m sure the hippy vegans in San Francisco buy it by the case but forgive me if Huber Heights, Ohio isn’t quite as refined and I must admit, I was skeptical at first.  I was willing to give aloe water a fair chance but the added pulp — much like the pulp you find in orange juice, although a little more chunky — made adapting to the new beverage a bit difficult.

Aloe water is lightly sweetened with a taste in the realm of strawberry-kiwi  (It is a hard taste to place and apparently there are different flavors.  I’m not real sure, I can’t read the bottles.) and similar in strength to what you’d find in a bottle of flavored water.  Trust me, once you overcome the pulp it is a pretty good drink.  Aloe water isn’t nearly as strong or sweet as a Kool-Aid, Gatorade, or normal fruit juices and this is why I feel it is better to call it aloe water as opposed to aloe juice.

I prefer the native Korean brand sold in the Commissary as opposed to Minute Maid’s version.  I think the local brand tastes better (it also has less pulp) and perhaps the fact that the entire bottle is in Hangul (Minute Maid has a Hangul side and an English side) makes me feel like I’m getting a more authentic experience.  Aloe water is high in Vitamin D and is reportedly good for hangovers; not that I would, uh, know anything about that.  Along with its thirst-quenching properties, aloe water has many health benefits and if you visit Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG website, his foundation apparently swears by it.

If aloe water is good enough for Lance Armstrong it is good enough for me.  I mean that guy won like a dozen Tour de Frances with only one nut so it has to be good.

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