Top Pick Of The Week

August 19, 2008

. .

Spa Water

Carpe Diem Botanic Water transports you to a spa...but also pairs with your most sophisticated dinner courses. Photo by Maria Bacarella | IST.

WHAT IT IS: Alpine spring water infused with herb and fruit botanicals, plus beneficial kombucha and ginkgo teas.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The botanical infusions are sophisticated; the teas are healthy; both offer different flavor alternatives to the usual soft drink lineup.
WHY WE LOVE IT: A little bit fizzy, a little bit sweet, a little bit herbal, a lot different. Carpe Diem Botanic Waters are a quick spa staycation...and also non-alcoholic alternatives to cocktails and wine.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Whole Foods and Wild Oats stores nationwide; online at

Carpe Diem:
Seize The Botanic Water

CAPSULE REPORT: This gentle line of “botanic waters,” a.k.a. lightly-carbonated soft drinks flavored with botanicals (fruits and herbs), is the antithesis of the energy drink made famous by Carpe Diem’s parent company, Red Bull International. Made from Alpine spring water with homeopathic plant extracts, the soft, natural sweetness comes from pear juice—there’s no added sugar. The net effect is a “spa tonic” with only 70 calories per 16.9-ounce bottle. For those who want a real tonic, there are two teas, kombucha and ginkgo, which have functional properties (people have been drinking them for centuries to reap health benefits). They also have up to double the sugar and calories. We’re more keen on the botanic waters.

Even if you don’t care for soft drinks or fizzy water, if you do like the sophisticated and different, Carpe Diem may become a new favorite refreshment. The line is popular in Europe, where it originated. Be the first on your block to give these charmers a try and introduce them to your friends and neighbors. (If you live on the same block as Courtney Cox, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields or Renée Zellweger, it’s too late—they’re already fans.)

Read about them in the full review below, as well as the origin of the phrase that begins with “carpe diem,” a Latin expression meaning “seize the day.”

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Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


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Carpe Diem: Seize The Botanic Water


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At THE NIBBLE, we don’t get too much into branding and fashion; we just care that something tastes good. So, we’ll let someone else make sense of the “philosophy” that is wrapped around Carpe Diem Botanic Water, and tell you that these flavored waters are refreshing and delicious functional beverages.* Whether or not you do yoga, pursue homeopathic remedies, follow Ayurvedic principles or care about whether your beverage is based on a philosophy that is thousands of years old (and we care about none of these), we have seized the day and drunk heartily of this line of natural, light and refreshing beverages. We feel as if we’ve been handed a tonic at a spa.

*A functional food or beverage is an everyday food that is enhanced with a supplement that provides a benefit to the body beyond normal satiation and nutrition. The effect can be long term (“added calcium prevents osteoporosis”) or short-term (“the electrolytes in sports drinks help the body re-hydrate more quickly”). Read more about functional foods.

The line currently consists of three botanic waters plus a kombucha tea and a ginkgo tea.

Carpe Diem Botanic Waters
The three botanic water: Relaxing, Vitalizing and Harmonizing.

A Light & Delightful Fizzy Soft Drink

Carpe Diem Botanic Waters have a light carbonation. If you like adult sodas and sparkling juices, like GuS and Fizzy Lizzy—much drier (less sugar) and less fizz than mass-market sodas, you’ll enjoy the sophisticated “spa beverage” flavors. These “botanic waters” aren’t “water” (any more than Vitamin Water is, or Coca Cola, unless you want to call it “cola water”). They have lots of flavor and a subtle level of sweetness from the addition of pear juice (no bottle of water is going to weigh in at 70 calories). No matter how much consumers like the idea of drinking water, and marketers like to sell them what they want, water is water and “enhanced” water is a soft drink (a soft drink is any drink that is non-alcoholic—carbonation is not required). That being said, as an alternative soft drink, Carpe Diem rocks.

Health Benefits

Each of the three botanical waters contain eight or nine herbs and plants selected in collaboration with the Institute for Applied Botany, Vienna. What functional benefits are you going to to get from drinking a bottle? From the botanic waters, you’ll largely get hydration from alpine spring water and a heritage of homeopathic plants, though probably not in enough concentration to harmonize, relax or vitalize you in a significant way (as, say, a can of Red Bull would vitalize you with its caffeine and guaranà). But if they do, great!

As we mentioned a few paragraphs earlier, we never let marketing get in the way of enjoying something that tastes good—and delightfully different, to boot. Here’s a low-calorie beverage with no sugar added (although an 8-ounce serving has 9g of natural sugars from the pear juice, equivalent to 2-1/4 teaspoons of sugar). There’s also zero sodium (plus zero fat and protein, not that you’d expect to find them in water or a soft drink).

The teas, kombucha and ginkgo, may have more therapeutic value (though also much more sweetness, from sugar—13g and 18g respectively). While results from clinical trials have yet to appear that prove efficacy, anecdotal evidence from hundreds (if not thousands) of years promises energizing and mind-enhancing benefits.

Cocktails & Wine

More good news: Carpe Diem Botanic Waters are great substitutes for cocktails and wine, for people who aren’t drinking alcohol. They even pair well with serious food, for dishes with which one would drink white wine (in fact, those who enjoy Gewürtztraminer and Riesling will feel right at home). Instead of serving two different wines with each course, as is our wont, we poured one glass of wine and one glass of Carpe Diem Botanic Water...and got no lip from our wine snob friends.

Carpe Diem

Now about the phrase, “Carpe diem” (pronounced car-PAY DEE-yem), translated from the Latin as “seize the day,”  “enjoy the day” and “pluck the day when it is ripe.” In his Odes Book I, the great Roman poet Horace (65 B.C.E. to 8 C.E.) wrote:

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
Aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

This is translated as:

While we’re talking, envious time is fleeing: seize the day, little to tomorrow.*

*Otherwise translated, put no trust in the future. Enjoy every day, make the best of it, for you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Two thousand years later, it still rings loud and clear.


Continue To Page 2: Carpe Diem Botanic Water Flavors

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