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.