Taste Test: Slow Cow Anti-Energy Drink

Taste Test: Slow Cow Anti-Energy Drink

Slow Cow is a “relaxation beverage” that purportedly provides the opposite effect of an energy drink. Instead of revving the imbiber up on a cocktail of caffeine, sugar, taurine and guarana, it attempts to wind them down via a tonic of natural relaxatives. As Lifehacker’s chief energy drink addict, I cracked open a can of this so-called “mind coolant” to see what would happen.

Slow Cow markets itself as an anti-energy drink for people who want to sharpen their mental focus without the help of stimulant drugs like caffeine. Originally launching in Canada in 2008, the beverage is finally available in Australia from select food outlets and supermarkets, including IGA.

Here’s the spiel from the company’s webpage:

Slow Cow is for all the overworked, stressed-out executives, parents, athletes, students and anxious insomniacs alike. Like a vacation for your frazzled nerves, Slow Cow is full of ingredients that help relax your mind and body, sharpen your mental focus, all without causing drowsiness.

The drink contains eight “natural” ingredients with proven links to relaxation and well-being. These are L-Theanine (an amino acid analogue chiefly found in plant and fungal species), Chamomile (a popular herbal infusion used in teas), Valerian (a medicinal plant that supposedly aids insomnia), Linden (a leaf-based cold remedy), Passiflora (AKA passion flower) and Hops (which have antibacterial properties), plus Potassium and Sodium. It’s also completely sugar- and calorie-free.

Unlike some “health” tonics, the drink contains a substantial amount of each botanical extract. For example, a single 250ml can comes with 100mg of L-Theanine which is an effective dosage level. This increases the level of gamma-Aminobutyric acid in the body, which can result in a relaxing, anti-anxiety effect.

As regular Lifehacker readers may know, energy drinks are my poison of choice. While some people indulge in too much chocolate or alcohol, I quaff V and Red Bull like water. I’ve tried all the sugar-free versions and even deluxe $10 varieties from Switzerland. In short, I’m hopelessly addicted and in need of a healthy alternative.

Unfortunately, Slow Cow is not that beverage. At least, not for me. While it tastes perfectly inoffensive (something that can’t be said of all health tonics) it’s also on the wrong side of bland. The flavour is reminiscent of a watered-down isotonic drink. It did help me to “wind down”, but I suspect this was mainly due to the fact it tasted boring. I can get the same effect from water.

All in all, Slow Cow feels like a poor substitute for energy drinks — it’s the kind of beverage that will only appeal to people who don’t drink Red Bull or V in the first place. It reminds me of the sort of thing that might get served at an oxygen bar: Groovy and functional, but far from delicious.

Verdict: 6/10


  • relaxative

    Perhaps not the best choice of words – drink this, you’ll crap yourself twice!

  • You’ve outed yourself as an addict to “Red Bull and V”, so you really can’t be objective under those conditions, now can you? Perhaps if we can get a review from someone who isn’t addicted to caffein!

  • Since it’s an “anti-energy” drink, why are you holding it to the same criteria as energy drinks? Wouldn’t a better test be to see if it helps you get to sleep? Or to investigate if a one time use of all the active ingredients at those concentrations is effective?

    • Well, the marketing and packaging have clearly been inspired by energy drinks; specifically Red Bull. So they are trying to appeal to this demographic, even if the purpose of the drink is different.

      • Hi @chrisjager,

        I’d be very happy to discuss with you. Perhaps you can DM me with direct contact details.

    • Hi rhubarbcustard, in truth it isn’t an ‘anti-energy’ drink at all. In Canada, it was originally marketed as an anti-energy drink so consumers had a reference point (ie. you won’t get amped-up if you drink this).

      In Australia it is marketed as ‘a drink to help you think’. The idea being the botanical blend keeps you calm and relaxed, while the L-Theanine works to keep you alert and focused without the use of stimulants. Slow Cow won’t put you to sleep, but it also won’t give you the jitters or that jolt of energy that is often associated with energy drinks. It is definitely much more subtle in taste and effect.

      Many Slow Cow consumers were previously energy drink consumers, however the vast majority of consumers wouldn’t have ‘traditional’ energy drinks in their repertoire of drinks they would buy.

      I provide this information as the Australian Partner for Slow Cow.

    • I too was interested in trying some but i found thier stock map on the website only covers MEL,SYD and BRIS

      • Thanks to everyone asking for it in various parts of Australia. We’d love to be everywhere but we are just starting out and the bigger retailers need to play their part…going door to door to see every little shop takes time and money. We’ll shout it out when we have news we’ve moved beyond Sydney and Melbourne. I promise!

  • “It did help me to “wind down”, but I suspect this was mainly due to the fact it tasted boring.” – classic writing. I love it. My brain cannot seem to conjure the taste of boring but the idea that an energy drink fanatic would not like this drink is promising.

  • I would be willing to do a taste test on this stuff. If it does what it says and can relax someone (especially me) i would take a stab in the dark. I have a question though does it have the same medical warnings of say a Red Bull or V?

    • @ftwstewieg thanks for your question. Slow Cow does not contain any caffeine, taurine or guarana. Any drink that contains those ingredients has to have a warning on it as stipulated by Food Standards. As Slow Cow doesn’t have those ingredients no health warning is required. Forgetting about rules and regulations and instead just being a decent human…none of the ingredients are know to be harmful however if you have any concerns whatsoever I would thoroughly and sincerely recommend you discussing this with a medical expert (I am not a medical expert).

      With regards to the taste test, drop me an email at [email protected] and we’ll sort you out. That is assuming you are happy with my explanation above (or your doctor’s opinion). Cheers

  • “Well, the marketing and packaging have clearly been inspired by energy drinks; specifically Red Bull. ”

    That’s certainly the opinion of Red Bull which is currently in litigation with Slow Cow claiming that Slow Cow’s packaging copied theirs.

    • @dreadnaught that’s new news to us, but we haven’t cheked the mail this morning. Perhaps you are referring to negotiations that took place in 2008/9 on the original label used in Canada. I can assure you there are no current actions that we know of.

  • I like the sound of it. I agree someone who isnt a Red Bull junkie would be better to review it , coming of an extreme high the body wont accept it like a regular joe.

    Will be interesting to see how it works sharpening the mind. Energy drinks have never worked for me as the crash is just awful and your head gets dizzy from the stuff.

    • As the author of the article described, many energy drink consumers are just used to getting a jolt of physical energy and crave it…you aren’t going to get that from Slow Cow. We don’t think people struggle with staying awake, we think the issue is losing focus…think beating the after lunch slump without keeping your awake all night.

      • Cheers , do you know which IGA’s in Sydney stock them , i have a few in my local area and would be good to know which ones have them so i can wander to them. In St George area.

        • @deandoom check out drinkslowcow.com.au/stockists to find your nearest Slow Cow stockist

    • @timbo_h we are working hard to make it happen. Hoping to be able to make a major announcement v soon. Keep an eye on SlowCowAustralia FB page. We are about to launch an online shop however as an interim step you can order direct via email: [email protected] (apologies to all for the self promotion)

  • Slow Cow Australia Guest AUGUST 27, 2015 7:28 AM
    @dreadnaught that’s new news to us, but we haven’t cheked the mail this morning. Perhaps you are referring to negotiations that took place in 2008/9 on the original label used in Canada. I can assure you there are no current actions that we know of.

    So the disputes been resolved.

    Have you any links apropos the “negotiations” that took place in 2008/9 when Red Bull GmbH sent Slow Cow Drink Inc. a formal notice to close, claiming that Slow Cow’s packaging copied Red Bull’s?

    • @dreadnaught asked and answered.

      But if you are really interested…google “slow cow vs red bull lawsuit”…have a look at the very first article. About half way through the article you will find this text, “…To fend off a potential lawsuit from Red Bull, Slow Cow had to redesign its logo. The cans now feature a cow relaxing…” here’s the link – http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/10/07/anti-energy-drinks/.

      Thanks so much for your concern for the legal status of Slow Cow, but as I previously wrote, there are no ongoing issues.

  • What tosh, this stuff is delicious and loaded with good things. Are you sure the rivers of energy drinks you consume haven’t annihilated your taste/nose buds? This stuff just needs to come to Canberra and we’ll be right as rain- make it happen SC hoverer!

  • i freaking love this idea!! as a workaholic I would really buy these.. alot… and happily sedate myself in a natural manner…

    now to find the nearest IGA…

    • @digitalsoull8 thanks for the thumbs up. You can find your nearest stockist here…www.drinkslowcow.com.au/stockist. Enjoy!

  • Have tried the first can of my sample that i was sent and i quite enjoyed it, My only issue is i have a flu at the moment so my taste buds are not what they should be. As soon as they are better i will give it another go and give a bit better review but from first taste it was quite good, Also didn’t give me any sort of a buzz or the crazy heart rhythm some energy drinks have.

    Good stuff slow cow.

    • Thanks for the update @ftwstewieg. Hope you are feeling better. Glad you liked your Slow Cow.

      • Thank you, feeling much better now. The drink was very good and as i said it didn’t have that taste that the other drinks have which was a good thing.

  • Though i probably wouldn’t buy V if it didnt have the caffeine, i would happily drink it. This stuff probably has the effect, but a stimulating taste is more than half the point of these *mind-effect* drinks

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