Make your own flavored waters with these tasty infusions

Make your own flavored waters with these tasty infusions

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

Pop quiz! What’s the difference between seltzer water, club soda, tonic water and mineral water?

Answer: Seltzer water is just plain old water to which carbon dioxide (CO2) has been added. Club soda is also water with CO2, to which various minerals such as potassium sulfate, sodium chloride and others have been added. Tonic water contains quinine, traditionally used to prevent malaria, whose bitter flavor is masked in part by adding sugar. Mineral water contains potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and the like, substances known as electrolytes that help keep key bodily functions humming. Mineral water can be still (non-carbonated) or either naturally or artificially carbonated.

If you’ve lived in Europe for some time already, you’re probably already quite used to mineral water. Although tap water quality standards within the European Union are high and the water is generally safe to drink in most EU states, the market for bottled water is strong.

Walk down the aisle of any German or Italian supermarket and you’ll find an overwhelming assortment of bottles of mineral water, including brands known far beyond their borders (French Perrier or Evian, Italian San Pellegrino). You may also note the proliferation of “aromatisierte” or “essenza,” mineral waters to which fruit and/or herbal tastes have been added.

Although such flavored waters surely represent a healthier alternative to sugar-laden soda, it’s good to approach any claims of healthiness with a grain of salt. While the phrase “aroma” sounds nice, it comes with no guarantee that the taste actually derives from a natural product and in fact might be purely chemical.

Compare the price of your basic unflavored bottle of mineral water with that of a prettily-labeled option boasting of a luscious-sounding pairing of tastes, and you’ll soon note you’re paying an awful lot more for the pleasure of a very subtle taste and not much gain in terms of nutritional content.

So how do you keep up your enthusiasm toward staying hydrated? Try making your own infusions! One way to go about this is to infuse a small quantity of still bottled water or water straight from the tap and then add this to sparkling mineral water according to your taste. You’ll notice many infusions call for just two or three ingredients, which creates interest yet prevents the flavors from getting too muddled. Slice your fruits and veggies thinly to eke out the most flavor, and adjust the quantities of ingredients to your own personal preferences. Strive to use organic, unwaxed fruits. As the infusions tend to develop a sour taste after a while, working with quantities designed to get you through a single day can be wise.

Here are just a few combinations that should yield enough to infuse about one liter of water, give or take:

Cucumber lemon: One whole or half a small lemon and a small cucumber; add a pinch of sea salt if desired. Lime or mint also pairs well with the cucumber.

Orange and vanilla: One orange and half a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Mint also goes well with the orange.

Grapefruit and rosemary: Half a grapefruit and three sprigs of rosemary.

Strawberry and kiwi: One peeled kiwi and 5 to6 strawberries.

Ginger, lemon and honey: One long slice of fresh ginger, 1 lemon and 2 tablespoons honey.

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