Maple water about to challenge coconut water for super-drink surpremacy

Nadine Kalinauskas
Shine On
Maple water tapped directly from the tree. (Thinkstock)

Move over, coconut water, there's a new super-drink in town: maple water.

The Boston Globe reports that businesses and entrepreneurs are scrambling to cash in on the very hot "natural beverages" market. Coconut water is already a $150-million-a-year sensation. Now attention is turning to maple water, the next big thing in thirst-quenching.

With just 5 grams of sugar per cup — and only 20 calories, about half of coconut water's calorie count — maple water is pure maple sap, naturally filtered and infused with minerals and nutrients. The sap contains between 95 to 98 per cent water.

"It's really the same sap that you'd find in the tree — the only thing we do is sterilize it," says Caroline Cyr, promotion and communication officer at the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

"The minerals occurring in highest concentrations include calcium, potassium and magnesium, and [the sap] is also an excellent source of manganese," says Michael Farrell, director of Cornell University's Uihlein Forest in Lake Placid.

Also see: What's so rad about radishes?

In taste tests conducted at Cornell's sensory laboratory, participants preferred the maple water over coconut water.

"Maple sap itself, it could go as big as coconut water quite easily. The potential is there and maybe even bigger," Keith Harris, CEO of KiKi Maple Sweet Water, tells BEVNET.

With only about 1 per cent of maple trees in New York State alone currently being tapped, the success of maple water could help boost industry in rural communities.

"Maple water is local, tastes better and has less sugar. It's a no-brainer," says Farrell.

Also see: Everything you need to know about fiddleheads

Maple water is also more hydrating than coconut water. Coconut water, however, does have more nutrients than its sappy counterpart.

According to the Cornell Chronicle, the maple water set to hit American shelves this spring from companies Seva, Vertical Water and Drink Maple is pasteurized so that its shelf life can be extended up to a year.

Maple water is already available in some Canadian provinces. (Expect to see more of the drink as it hits the mass market this year.)

TIME reports that drinking maple sap has long been used as a tonic among native Americans and some East Asians. The drink was even considered the "wholesomest drink in the world" over 300 years ago by North American explorers, writes the Boston Globe's Taryn Luna.

Also see: The health benefits of maple syrup

Drinking maple water is a long-standing tradition in Canada, too.

"The old method of collecting maple sap is to put a bucket on each tree; people go in the woods and they sometimes drink from the bucket," Cyr says. "There's a long tradition of that here in Quebec."

Are you a fan of coconut water? Will you give maple water a try?