It has been proven time and time again that the best way to keep your energy going for an extended period of time is not to down a ton of caffeine at one time, but to take a small bit of caffeine and keep it rolling for hours. Not only will this help with building to a great amount of energy, but also eliminates the crash until you can take it. Soldiers are given caffeinated gum in their rations – and are supposed to ration it out to keep up their stamina. Slow release caffeine has been scientifically proven to help everything from nausea to traffic accidents
This is the idea behind Zum XR, a new energy drink that has little caffeine beads floating in it that release caffeine slowly in your system over hours. At first, I was expecting something like the old Orbitz drink (it had big gelatinous balls floating in it – didn’t last very long) or something akin to Boba – the asian dessert drink with floating gooey tapioca balls. But Zum XR’s little pellets were something very new, as they were infinitesimally small beads – sorta like soft chewy white poppy seeds, floating at the bottom of the bottle in a pile.
Zum XR looks great and healthy when you check out the bottle. It is clear and large, with enough of a color difference to let you know what to expect from their very large taste profile. I like how they got across the caffeine buzz plainly, so you knew how much energy you would be getting from the drink itself, and how much to expect inside all those little floaty things at the bottom.
Of course the thing that really sets this drink apart are the floaty things – and at first people I showed it to thought of it as a turn off. Most people don’t like floaties in their drink , regardless of what it is. On two occasions I found people drinking the juice portion of the drink but drinking only from the top and letting it settle, so they did not have to deal with the energy beads. Those that did work to swallow did not really mind them, but still found the whole experience of dealing with these little balls a put-off.
Zum comes in a huge range of flavors (Alpine Berry, Blackberry Pomegranate, Lemon Ginger, Mango Green Tea and Wild Mandarine), all of which are tasty and very subtle. The fruitiness and the bite were well done, overall drink was light and refreshing. The drink reminded me of a Functional beverage, like Vitamin Water or Neuro. I definitely have a preference for the more citrusy flavors – especially on their diet varieties, but they are all pretty tasty. The only one I did not like as much was the Alpine Berry one, which did not really have that little flavor punch I was hoping for (I think it needed a bit more sweetener). I enjoy that their diet versions used stevia as a sweetener and they still managed to make it taste light, crisp and refreshing.
The little caffeine beads were definitely something do deal with though. They sat on the bottom of the bottle – and unless you shook it while drinking (actually shaking the bottle while it is being poured in your mouth), there is no real way to get all of them out. As these balls were the encapsulated caffeine and the reason for the drink, I did not want to have them sit unused and wasted at the bottom of my bottle. The only way I found to completely consume all the caffeine in the drink is to either use a straw (a double Big Gulp straw works great), or to plug it with your tongue, turn the entire bottle upside downing your mouth and wait for the beads to settle, and chug the whole bottle college-dorm style. The flavor and texture of the pills were fine – it is just the transport into my mouth that was a issue. Even if you use a straw and end up with a big mouthful of them, they are completely tasteless and as long as you don’t mind little floaty dots in your mouth its fine.
I think the problem here is unlike other drinks-with-stuff-inside, these balls are too heavy to deal with. The fact that they don’t mix up with the liquid and constantly sit at the bottom makes it very hard to consume. If the density of them were a bit lighter, or the liquid was a bit heavier then a quick wrist snap would get all their pellets into a much more drinkable form and stay blended.
The drink itself is great – and the caffeine beads are fine as a taste and texture. These is just a little work needed in how people are supposed to get all of them out of the bottle and into your mouth.
Once you get all those caffeine pellets in your mouth though – the rest of the drink starts to shine. There is a quick boost of caffeine in the liquid – about 60mg per bottle. That is just enough to give you a little of what you need until the good stuff starts kicking in. The crazy thing is, you never feel the rush – you just don’t feel tired.
That is one of the most interesting things about Zum XR. At no point do you feel buzzed or hyper – instead you have a nice flow of energy for about 3-4 hours – and barely even notice the taper off. The whole effect is very gradual, so even through there are 200mg of energy in here you never feel it. It is akin to drinking about 2-3 cups of coffee over 3 hours – so yo never feel a huge buildup, but no crashing either, and I love it.
Zum XR is innovative as the only drink in the world that has time-release caffeine. Basically, they wrap the caffeine in a light food-grade film. Because this food-grade film does not dissolve in your stomach at the same rate that regular caffeine does, by varying the micro-encapsulation you can get your caffeine dosage spread out over a much longer time.
On top of the caffeine, there is a daily serving of vitamin C in the bottle, and it is loaded with electrolytes, so it really helps if your activity is a marathon, not a sprint. About 20 minutes into a day of yard work I was hot, sweaty and tired – and grabbed one. After about 15 minutes, I was ready to go and got a good productive 3 hours of manual labor before I started to feel beat.
If I were needing to stay awake in a meeting or driving or working out, I would want something a bit more powerful that delivers a bigger punch to start off with. Truthfully, the 60mg for the initial boost is barely enough to keep me functional in the mornings until the energy beads kick in. If I were going to suggest anything, it would be great if they came out with a formula with a slightly higher kick – for those of us caffeine fiends that could really use that burst as well as sustained energy. After downing the Zum, I still felt a little pull to the coffee machine to help get me through my mornings.
If you are looking for something to keep you rocking for a while (and have a long straw to drink with) I would definitely recommend it.