The Real Deal Behind True Lemon and True Lime

How much water should you drink in a day? Is it 11.5-15.5 cups a day? Or is it 4-6 cups? Or is it different for every person? No one really has the answer, but one thing is for sure: Choking down all that water every day can be a slog. There are a lot of products out there that are supposed to make drinking water “fun,” but are they counteracting the health benefits of hitting your water goals? Today, we are going to look at one of these products: True Lemon and True Lime.

What are True Lime and True Lemon packets?

True Lime and True Lemon are the two flagship products of a company called True Citrus. Founder David Schleider discovered a way to crystalize lemon juice and then packaged it in small packets similar to Splenda or Truvia. The goal is to replicate the flavor of fresh-squeezed lemon or lime in your regular water without all the hassle of an actual citrus fruit. It’s a water “enhancer.”

What are the True Lime and True Lemon ingredients?

There’s only one ingredient: crystallized lemon or lime. The crystals are composed of citric acid, lemon/lime juice, and lemon/lime oil. That’s it. The label also proudly states that there are no sugars, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, colors from artificial sources, soy, MSG, gluten, sodium, or GMOs. Sounds pretty good.

True Citrus’s line up also includes True Orange and True Grapefruit, both of which have similar ingredient lists. There’s also Fruit Infusions, which have flavors like Lime Mint, Lime Coconut, Lemon Raspberry, and others. However, the ingredient list for these reads, “organic lime/lemon juice solids, citric acid, natural flavors.” Still sounds pretty good, but not as simple as the other products.

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What are True Lime and True Lemon Energy and Drink Mixes?

True Citrus has a whole line of low-calorie drink mixes that are similar to powdered drink mixes like Countrytime or Crystal Light. Each packet of these drink mixes only has 10 calories in it, but the ingredient lists for each are more complex. Let’s take, for example, their Black Cherry Limeade. The ingredient list reads as follows: crystallized lime (citric acid, malic acid, lime oil, lime juice), cane sugar, stevia leaf extract, natural flavors, vegetable juice (for color).  It also includes a note about the malic acid, claiming it is a non-GMO L-malic acid that is naturally occuring in some fruits and vegetables and is added here to enhance the tart taste. 

The energy drink mixes have pretty much the same ingredient lists but with added caffeine; there’s about 120 mg of caffeine per packet. With all these products, we are getting into calorie territory and, while it is very low, it still is not just a “flavor enhancer.” 

Are True Lime and True Lemon worth it?

On the True Citrus website, a box of True Lime or Lemon costs $5.59, contains 32 packets, and, according to the company, contains all the flavor of one lime or lemon wedge. So, if you’re using one of these packets in every glass of water you drink, you’re going to go through them in less than a week. Is that affordable or expensive? Well, right now I can buy two pounds of lemons from Target for about $4. That’s about eight lemons. Each lemon can be divided into six average-sized wedges. So, for $4 I’m getting 48 wedges. That’s cheaper than True Lemon. 

But that doesn’t account for the ease of a packet of True Lemon. It’s a lot faster than cutting up a lemon and keeping it in the fridge. Plus, the packets are mobile, so you can bring them on the road.

When it comes to the “natural” advertising the brand uses, if you’re going just by the label, it seems genuine. However, I did find a 2020 class-action lawsuit against True Citrus, stating that the products were made using synthetic malic acid as a flavor enhancer. There haven’t been updates on the suit, but seeing as how True Citrus is putting that malic acid language on their label, they might be trying to cover their bases. 

At the end of the day, I think these water enhancers are at least worth a try. True Lemon and True Lime seem the most “natural” of all their products, they have no calories, and at worst you’re consuming a synthetic chemical made from petroleum. But who isn’t these days?

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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