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Unusual drinks Germans think are absolutely normal

February 26, 2020

Apfelschorle? Every child in Germany knows what it is, but translators and lifestyle bloggers are challenged when trying to explain that to the rest of the world. Here's more on the drinks Germans take for granted.

Image: Imago

"What the Heck is Apfelschorle? And Here's How to Make It" is the title of an article written by a US blogger. He is not the only one who has attempted to unravel the mystery of this "delightful concoction," as the author enthusiastically describes it.

Admittedly, such lifestyle blogs have a tendency to make a big juicy story out of things almost too simple to write about. There's no big secret behind the drink all Germans know: An Apfelschorle is apple juice mixed with sparkling mineral water.

While the apple variation is the most common, a Schorle — or spritzer if you want an English term (although even translators struggle to agree on an official term in English) — can be made by adding sparkling water to any juice.

People are obviously free to mix their beverages the way they want at home, but for commercial versions, Germany has special regulations on how to label fruit and soft drinks, determined by the "Fruchtsaft- und Erfrischungsgetränkeverordnung," also officially abbreviated as "FrSaftErfrischGetrV" — more on Germany's spectacular art of the abbreviation another time.

Read more: Tasty or disgusting? Sculptures of raw meat and other weird German foods

Mineral water enthusiasts

Whether mixed with juice or pure, mineral water is extremely popular in Germany.

Even though the country's tap water is one of the safest and best-tasting in Europe, many Germans prefer the bottled version. While some people believe in the health benefits of its minerals, others simply enjoy the taste of sparkling water — of which there are two types: strongly carbonated, known as "classic," or that with reduced carbon dioxide, "medium." Water without fizz has a recognizable name in German: "stilles Wasser" or still water.

Read more: Survival guide to German supermarkets

Plastic water bottles
Germans love their bottled waterImage: Imago/imagebroker

Every inhabitant of the country drinks an average 150.5 liters of mineral water per year, according to a 2018 report by the association Deutscher Mineralbrunnen e.V. It however only became a widespread habit fairly recently; in 1970, that average was only 12.5 liters per person.

A law determining standards for mineral water throughout Europe was introduced in 1980. Since it wasn't as strict as previous regulations in Germany, it allowed new providers to hit the market. With countless brands of bottled water to choose from, mineral water was no longer a luxury product.

By the beginning of the 2000s, lighter plastic bottles were also introduced and German discount supermarket chains started selling their bottled water for a few cents a pop, accounting for another boom in popularity.

The deposit ("Pfand") on the bottle is actually more expensive than the water itself. That's why queuing at the reverse vending machine ("Pfandautomat") to return empty bottles for a refund became another widespread German hobby.

You'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheGermans.

Portrait of a young woman with red hair and glasses
Elizabeth Grenier Editor and reporter for DW Culture