By Carrie Havranek
Getting those 8 glasses in a day can sometimes be challenging, or boring, even, especially if you’re trying to up your intake or make the transition from juices, coffee, or soda. With a few switches and some creativity, you can reprogram your taste buds, giving them a little tease of flavor without going completely off the rails with sugar. We’re going way beyond lemon water here.
1. Try a few drops of essential oil.
First, you want to make sure your oils are generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for internal consumption; check with the manufacturer if it’s not expressly written on the bottle. Citrus oils are a great first choice and can also help perk up your concentration. I also like lavender if things are getting a little too stressful. Add one drop to at least 8 ounces of water; I like to use Revive oils because I know they’ve been tested for purity and their bottles will indicate which are safe for internal consumption.
Pro tip: Essential oils and plastic don’t play well together (they degrade plastic) so make sure you drink out of glass. I usually do a couple of drops in a giant, 32-ounce glass Ball jar; more is not better when it comes to oils, as they are more powerful than you might expect.
2. Add frozen fruit.
I’ve always got frozen fruit on hand for smoothies, and when I was out of ice cubes, I reached for some blueberries one day, strawberries, and mango the next. Adding frozen fruit makes the drink colder; plus, you can just eat it when it’s defrosted. Expect a juicy flavor added to your water too. If you’re trying to limit your sugar, stick to frozen berries.
3. Cut it with another beverage.
If flat water feels boring, tip in some seltzer or club soda for bubbles. Kombucha is a thirst quencher, but sometimes it’s potent. If that’s the case, simply add a splash of it to your water and sip on probiotics all day long. Of course juice is always an option — just keep it to a splash to avoid loading up on more sugar than you’re realizing.
4. Add in fresh herbs
Do you have a ton of mint in your backyard? It grows like crazy. Made all the pesto you can possibly muster, but still have some basil leftover in that bunch you bought? Add them to your water! I also happen to like lemon verbena, lemon balm and stevia in my water. All of these herbs have a fair degree of zip to them which means when they are added to water, you can really taste the oils in them. I’d even venture to say cilantro would taste great in water with a squeeze of lime juice. Snip off the leaves and break them up a little bit to release the oils (or muddle them in a glass with the back of a wooden spoon) and toss them into your water. And yes, you can drink the herbs if you want, or leave ‘em at the bottom of your glass.
5. Make an herbal iced tea concentrate.
From mint to hibiscus, herbals teas are an easy way to boost the flavor of your water without adding sugar or caffeine. Look for naturally sweet varieties — anything with citrus, hibiscus, licorice, and even cinnamon — and brew a concentrate to store in the fridge. To make the concentrate combine 32 water with one of these bags from: Tazo’s oversize tea bags; specifically, the iced passion one, with passionfruit, rose hips, orange peel, and hibiscus. It’s a perky pick-me-up. Sometimes, I add a tablespoon or so of honey (but often I skip it) and stick it right in the fridge to cold brew for a few hours until it’s chilled. I leave the bags in there and skip adding ice because I know I’m going to use it as a concentrate and I don’t want any dilution. And this is a robust concentrate; I’ve even been known to re-use the bags for a second batch.
Using the concentrate: Mix 1 part concentrate with equal parts water, mineral water, seltzer, or club soda—or to taste. It’s really up to you!
6. Find an Electrolyte Mix You Love
As the focus on hydration has gained plenty of attention over the past few years, the number of store-bought options for electrolytes — usually powdered mixes with a combination of minerals such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium — has exploded. They’re great options for making sure all that water you’re drinking is actually hydrating your body.
Read more: What Are Electrolytes and Why Should I Care?
7. Try Alkaline Water
There’s a lot of hype around alkaline water — water with a higher pH that has been suggested as a tonic for everything from acid reflux to indigestions. While there’s no clear verdict on its efficacy, some people find it easy to drink and thus, end up drinking more water overall. For that reason alone, it might be worth your consideration.