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Based on purely anecdotal evidence, I’d guess that the fastest growing beverage category is craft sodas and high-end juices. Stroll down the aisles of any local market or upscale grocery store and you’ll find scores of chic bottles and cans holding all manner of “better for you” flavored sparkling water, healthy sodas, and obscure tea/fruit beverages.
And, frankly, it makes sense. These non-alcoholic beverages can be shipped around the country and marketed to folks of any age group. Plus, people are taking more care in picking out drinks with less sugar, natural ingredients, and organic/sustainable manufacturing processes. Start digging into some actual numbers and you’ll find that the craft soda market is expected to grow to over $850 million by 2028.
The downside of the trend is many of these drinks just suck. They taste like hollow knock-offs of the real thing. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been conditioned to like extremely sugar-y cola, so I’ll never enjoy a “healthy” variant. Still, I find that it’s hard to pick out the few excellent drinks in the sea of “non-alcoholic section” mediocrity at the hipster bodega down the street.
Well, don’t worry. I did the hard work for you and I’m pleased to present Ruby Hibiscus Water, a better for you beverage that you’ll actually want to drink.
What Is Ruby?
Ruby, founded by Noah Wunsch, launched in New York City early this year. Wunsch looked for a way to curb his sugar intake and realized that by cutting out soda and heavily sweetened drinks, he started feeling healthier. “I was making hibiscus water at home and really quickly kind of became addicted to it more than anything else because it was helping me curb my sugar cravings,” Wunsch shares. “After asking myself and my wife enough times, ‘Why hasn't someone done this?’ I was like, I guess, you know, I guess it's time for me to do this.”
Thus, the Rubyverse was born.
Ruby Hibiscus Water is available in cutesy 10 oz glass bottles in either Unsweetened or Lightly Sweetened forms. The Lightly Sweetened version contains 6g of organic cane sugar and 25 calories. The Unsweetened variety is a zero-calorie drink made with 0g sugar. Both are naturally gluten-free, organic, kosher, and delicious. Both versions are available directly from Ruby for $45/12-pack.
And, while the beverage itself is excellent, it’s the wider Rubyverse that truly brought me in.
Welcome To The Rubyverse, I’m FALFEL
Can you remember the last time that a brand texted you a trading card with info about your avatar in the brand’s fictional world? Dungeons & Dragons, maybe? Well, Ruby does.
If you scroll down on Ruby’s homepage you’ll find a simple question: “What Rubyverse character are you?” followed by a prompt to text (414) 404-6490. Shortly thereafter you’ll be given a few questions, answer them honestly, and voila! Meet your Rubyverse alter-ego. I am, of course, the good-humored FALFEL. And I have 1500 hitpoints for what it’s worth.
So, why go to all this trouble just to sell some folks bottles of hibiscus water?
Because it’s fun. And it’s a much better way to interact with consumers than just telling people “hey, buy my product.”
Pop around the Ruby website and you’ll find that the world of Ruby Hibiscus Water feels alive and littered with unique characters, like yours truly, FALFEL. The Journal includes curated playlists updated every month that serve as interstellar missives in the Rubyverse. You’ll also find snack seances, hibiscus history lessons, and more.
A “Better For You” Beverage That Actually Tastes Good
And, most importantly, Ruby tastes good. So many “better for you” beverages promise to be a healthy alternative to your favorite soda but they end up tasting like a hollow imitation of a more sugary beverage. Instead, Ruby is its own distinct drink.
Made from a strain of hibiscus flower indigneous to Southeast Asia and West Africa, Ruby derives its color and flavor directly from the plant. No additives, colorings, or flavors. Ruby Hibiscus Water is simply that. You’ll find a lovely balance of bright tart flavors that might remind you of your favorite fruits: apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, etc.
I will admit that the first bottle took some getting used to. But, once I polished it off, I found myself thinking, “dang, I kind of want another one.” There’s something so satisfying, refreshing, and complex about it. You can easily polish off a bottle in no time.
And, it’s infinitely riffable. Noah shared that he’s received mocktail recipes from folks in grocery stores who have tried out Ruby for themselves. He’s whipped up a few cocktails at home with Ruby as a base. I added some sparkling water to a glass of Ruby to get the bubbles going. There are no rules in the Rubyverse, just have fun.
“People will try Ruby sometimes and they’ll say, ‘oh god, like that is too tart. That is not sweet enough.’ And I’m like, ‘Put stevia in it!’ I'm not that guy that's like fire, Hell, and brimstone about sugar. I think that we do need to reduce sugar consumption in a really big way in this country. But you know, at the end of the day, we're a beverage. We want people to enjoy what they're drinking.”
5 More Things to Love About Ruby:
- Can’t get enough of that sweet Ruby nectar? Need it on a regular basis? Ruby offers a monthly subscription service at a discounted price so you can receive a regular shipment of hibiscus water.
- If it hasn’t become clear from the brand’s marketing, Ruby is part beverage brand, part art project. Ruby has a brilliantly weird Depop store that offers, in addition to Ruby Hibiscus Water, custom ceramic figurines, a cassette of the Spaceballs soundtrack, and “the original shpaceshmuit worn by shmoo commander [NAME REDACTED]” available for $5,000.
- Need some IRL Ruby content? Follow Ruby Hibiscus Water on social media for the occasional Rubyverse gathering, Ruby cocktail inspirations, and so much more.
- In addition to its low sugar, Ruby also offers several health benefits. Hibiscus is chock full of electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamins.
- Don’t want to order online? There’s a good chance Ruby will manifest itself at a store near you. Ruby is already available in several grocery stores and you can find stockists on the Ruby site.