When you hear “maple” it’s hard not to picture that deliciously sweet, thick, and viscous syrup made for brunch. But maple water is actually a light, refreshing drink that’s increasingly being sipped in place of coconut water for maximum hydration.
A slew of new companies are tapping the maple tree’s potential. Happy Tree is now sold at select Whole Foods locations, DrinkMaple is available all over New England and at healthy New York hotspot Hu Kitchen, and Vertical Water is spreading out on the East Coast, too.
So, what is it, actually?
Maple water is the pure sap tapped directly from the tree. While you may be imagining the sticky kind you’ve gotten on your hands on a hike, it turns out maple sap isn’t gooey like pine sap, it has a water consistency.
“It takes 40 gallons of maple water, or sap, to boil down to one gallon of syrup, so the sugar content is quite low in the actual maple sap,” explains Kate Weiler, who created DrinkMaple with co-founder Jeff Rose.
Which is one of the main draws, nutritionally speaking. DrinkMaple’s 8.45-ounce carton, for example, contains just four grams of sugar. (By comparison, raw fave Harmless Harvest’s coconut water has twelve grams in an eight ounce bottle.) The sweet flavor is more subtle than coconut water, too.
The water is also rich in natural vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and antioxidants. That makes us think health-conscious types may be inclined to sip it as part of their hydration routines. Except for one factor: drinking from a coconut on a hot day just sounds so much more refreshing.
DrinkMaple’s Weiler explains her moment of conversion. “Jeff and I were up in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, to race in an Ironman triathlon when we stumbled on maple water in a coffee shop. We bought it and absolutely loved its refreshing and hydrating qualities,” she says of the abundant local crop. And as others take a first sip this summer, there are bound to be more and more turning a new (hydrating) leaf. —Lisa Elaine Held