Over the past decade, we’ve watched manufactured sports drinks take a backseat to the natural wonders of coconut water, a single source plant-based hydration alternative that has been hailed throughout the active community. But the unrefined goodness of coconut water may have just met its match from a natural source that hits even closer to home: Meet maple water.
Believe it or not, the natural byproduct of maple trees is not the gooey syrup that slathers our pancakes every Sunday morning, but rather a watery liquid with 46 essential nutrients (including electrolytes and probiotics) and half the sugar of its tropical counterpart (syrup is actually the boiled remnants of maple water).
New Englanders Kate Weiler and Jeff Rose first stumbled upon the natural hydrator while racing an Ironman triathlon at Mont Tremblant. After learning that maple water had been used by Native Americans, explorers, and farmers for hundreds of years, the pair quickly realized that maple water’s benefits could translate well into endurance sports.
In 2014 DRINKMaple was born, and since then, Weiler and Rose have worked with local Vermont farms to harvest, bottle and distribute its low-impact maple water to over 2500 locations around the world, changing the way we think about hydration in the process.
GrindTV caught up with Weiler and Rose to learn a little more about the drink that is well on its way to becoming the next big thing in athlete hydration. Here’s what they had to say.
How did you guys get involved in maple water?
Jeff and I were doing that Ironman at Mont Tremblant and we were in a coffee shop waiting for registration when we stumbled upon a very small manufacturer of maple water.
We couldn’t believe that it was coming straight from the tree and was a naturally hydrating drink. We loved the idea that coconut water was a single ingredient plant-based hydration but couldn’t believe that nobody was taking advantage of this local resource that was in our backyards.
What is the process of making maple water?
It’s a harvest, so we select it and bring it to our production facility in St. Albans, Vermont. We clean it up, keep it cold and make sure we’re getting the highest quality of maple water. At our bottling facility we do a very short pasteurization process, which kills off the yeast and the pollen (that cause maple water to go bad). Nothing else is added. It’s one single ingredient and we’re able to maintain that shelf life — about 18 months — with that bottling process.
Is this process eco-friendly?
This is harmless to the trees. It’s the same infrastructure that we’ve had for years and years with maple syrup. But, instead of boiling this down into maple syrup, we are collecting it and bottling it.
We only take 10 percent of the sap from the tree. It takes 40 years for the tree to be able to be tapped so it’s in everyone’s best interest that these trees are tapped in a very sustainable way.
How does DRINKMaple partner with local farms?
Everything is sourced from Franklin County in Vermont, so it’s local, everything is within 25 miles of our facility. There’s plenty of maple water out there, so the limitation is the season rather than availability. Only six percent of the trees in Vermont are being tapped.
We also partnered with the largest organic maple syrup producer in the country. He has about 180,000 trees at his disposal, Green Mountain Mainlines.
Coconut water is all the rage right now. Why is maple water a good hydration alternative?
Coconut water paved the way for us because people understand the concept. I think what makes maple water great is that it’s a lot of the same properties that made coconut water popular. It’s a single ingredient, natural hydration and we’re not adding anything to it.
The differentiation is that it’s half the sugar of coconut water. Most people think that maple would have much more sugar, but it’s not the case. Plus, all of the antioxidants that maple water offers.
Are people using DRINKMaple outside of sports?
Because it is something new on the market, people are getting creative with it. We have people making cold brew with it, we have people brewing hard cider with it, people experimenting with Kombucha and kefir and different fermented drinks. Cocktails, some bars are doing different cocktails and we even do maple water ice cubes for smoothies or a whiskey drink.
How does maple water fit into the outdoors world?
From an active standpoint, I think people know the importance of hydration and this has different electrolytes and nutrients that is more than just water. I don’t mean don’t forget about water … but a lot of times if you’re active you need a little bit more. This offers another natural hydration so that you’re not drinking artificial sweeteners to quench your thirst.
As native New Englanders, what’s special about bringing this product to market?
It’s exciting to bring something that’s indigenous to our area to the market. A lot of people have that emotional connection in this area to maple but people don’t realize that what’s coming from the tree is this natural water. People think that we are adding water, we aren’t adding anything, this is what comes out of the tree. We are bringing a product to market, but also an educational process, which is pretty cool.
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