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In the mood


The weather’s cooling down. Now is the time to chill.

Heide Brandes September 20th, 2011

Want to relax and calm down? Try picking up a soda.

A new brand of carbonated delights is going down a different path than the one lined with sugar and caffeine. This new generation of drinks counts herbs and minerals as ingredients for a calming effect and, in some cases, can help insomniacs get a little shut-eye.

“People want something that calms and relaxes them, and I think it’s a backlash from all the high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks out there,” said John Mutz, sales agent for Just Chill, a “relaxation” soda.

Instead of creating a jittery explosion of energy, Just Chill combines ginseng, ginkgo biloba and more for soothing energy.

right The soda rack at Forward Foods on Western Avenue includes Dry Lavender Soda.

“There are really two ways people are approaching relaxation drinks,” Mutz said. “Many have gone the way of putting melatonin and valerian root, both sleep additives, into the drinks. We did ours a little different. We don’t have the sedatives in our drink, but a little thing called L-theanine.”

L-theanine is thought to decrease stress and increase focus. Other herbs like lemongrass and immunity-boosting zinc also are included.

Wind-down drinks like Dream Water, Unwind and Mary Jane’s Relaxing Soda are available in health food stores. Most contain melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

At Forward Foods, 5123 N. Western, a wall of organic and specialty sodas beckons with such flavors as lemongrass, ginger, rhubarb and cucumber.

While the small-brewery sodas are all the rage due to the use of pure cane sugar, others tout the benefits of the included herbs.

I don’t know if they really work, but they make me happy.
—Suzy Thompson

“I don’t know if they really work or not, but they make me happy,” said Forward Foods’ Suzy Thompson. “I know lavender is a relaxing scent, so that lavender soda may be geared for that purpose. We go more for tastiness.”

Although, she said, the kombucha is “great for hangovers.” The organic, fermented drink claims to include enzymes and probiotics.

“I was reluctant to carry it at first, but I’m glad we have it,” she said.

Dry Soda and Fentimans beverages also boast of herbs and fruits meant to boost health and spirit.

“There’s a big variety of choices out there now, and I think people like the idea of trying new flavors,” Thompson said.

 
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