Review: Recess Flavored Sparkling Water with CBD

Posted: Nov 01, 2018 at 11:19 AM (Last Updated: Nov 01, 2018 at 1:01 PM)

Covers Products: Peach Ginger, Blackberry Chai, Pom Citrus

Recess is an upstart line of fruit flavored sparkling water beverages infused with hemp extract. The brand features refreshing flavors, slick packaging, and one of today’s trendiest ingredients: cannabidiol, or CBD.

As everyone in the industry is probably noticing, CBD drinks are rapidly growing in number. And from our perspective, some of these products have limited appeal beyond the inclusion of CBD.

Fortunately for Recess, this product is exactly the opposite -- this product can be enjoyed for its flavor alone. And it’s probably the most crushable and satisfying CBD-enhanced product that has landed on our desks to date.

This starts with the foundation of the drink, which, as noted earlier, is a fruit (using juices from concentrate) flavored sparkling water that has been enhanced with hemp, ginseng, L-theanine, and Schisandra. There are three flavors, including two that have a touch of sugar (Pom Citrus and Blackberry Chai, each with 25 calories) and one that does not (Peach Ginger, with 15 calories).

Diving further into the taste, all three flavors of Recess are crisp, balancing a touch of fruit flavor, a hint of sweetness, and a light ginseng note at the finish. While we enjoyed all three, we found ourselves most fond of Peach Ginger, which is the lightest of the trio. This flavor, with its 15 calories and 4g of sugar, feels like where Recess should focus. While the other flavors are definitely well executed, this flavor profile and calorie count really makes it feel like a strong player in the sparkling water set.

Packaging and branding are another place where Recess excels. The brand’s style is eye-catching and hip, which feels very minimalist and against the grain of current, and often conformist, package design trends in the natural food and beverage set. The name Recess, which implies a break in conusmers’ daily routine, is a clever and subtle approach that feels capable of standing out. Otherwise, the pastel color palette and use of a 12 oz can seem spot-on for a sparkling beverage.

One last note on the package: this product doesn’t say CBD anywhere on it. On the front and side of the can are callouts for hemp extract; it’s only on the ingredient list, which lists “full spectrum hemp extract - 10mg,” that you’ll find a slightly more specific mention.

While one might argue that calling out the CBD content a bit more prominently would be good from a transparency perspective, we feel that staying away from heavy promotion of CBD (as many other products are doing) is a good thing in terms of both the state of the market and sending a message that Recess is confident in what it is offering.

Overall, we think Recess has come out of the gate really strong. This is one of the best CBD drinks out there right now.

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