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Fresh vs chilled vs long-life orange juice: is it worth paying more?

Our head-to-head taste test suggests maybe not

Fresh vs chilled vs long-life orange juice: is it worth paying more?

A glass of orange juice is a breakfast-time staple for many people, offering an easy way to squeeze in one of your five-a-day first thing in the morning.

But you don’t necessarily need to pay a premium for a good glass of OJ.

We asked a panel of 101 people to blind-taste and rate cheap long-life orange juice alongside chilled and freshly squeezed options from Tesco.

Despite costing more than double the price of long-life juice, the premium freshly squeezed juice didn’t hit the spot, according to our panel.

What’s more, switching to long-life orange juice isn’t just good for your wallet, as our research suggests it could benefit both your taste buds and the environment (although maybe not your vitamin C intake).

Read on to find out which orange juice packed a punch, and which left our tasters unimpressed.

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Cheap vs expensive orange juice: which tastes best?

We pitted budget, mid-range and premium orange juices from Tesco against each other to see if our tasters thought paying more paid off. Here’s how they rated each juice:

Tesco Orange Juice Smooth (chilled) – £1.25 for 1 litre

  • Overall score: 80%
  • Preferred by: 47%*
Tesco chilled orange juice

Tesco’s mid-range chilled orange juice scored highest overall, and nearly half of our juice-loving tasting panel chose it as their favourite of the three.

Most of our tasters thought the flavours were spot on, with well-balanced sweetness and sharpness, and a tangy citrus hit that wasn’t too overpowering.

It looks the part too, with a vibrant orange colour that’s sure to brighten up your breakfast table.

It offers a saving of 75p per litre compared with Tesco’s freshly squeezed juice, so could be worth trying if you’re looking to cut the cost of your weekly shop.

Available from Tesco.

Tesco Smooth Long-life Orange Juice (from concentrate) – 90p for 1 litre

  • Overall score: 76%
  • Preferred by: 30%*
Tesco Long Life orange juice

Tesco’s long-life orange juice scored just a few percentage points lower than the pricier chilled juice overall, proving you can get great taste on a budget.

Our tasters liked the flavour, mouthfeel, appearance and aroma just as much as the pricier chilled juice, although for some it did verge on too weak, with nearly a third wanting a zestier orange flavour.

A one-litre carton costs less than a pound, which could lead to big savings in the long run. For a household of four people, switching from Tesco’s freshly squeezed juice to its cheaper long-life juice could save you nearly £250 per year.

Available from Tesco.

Tesco Finest 100% Orange Juice (freshly squeezed) – £2 for 1 litre

  • Overall score: 67%
  • Preferred by: 24%*
Tesco Finest freshly squeezed orange juice

It was the most expensive juice we tested, but Tesco’s premium freshly squeezed offering fell flat in our taste test compared with the chilled and long-life versions.

Some panellists thought it had an authentic flavour, with several saying it tasted like freshly squeezed oranges.

However, the flavour profile wasn’t to everyone’s tastes. Around a third found it lacking in sweetness and sharpness, and 36% wanted a punchier orange flavour.

Appearance-wise, it looked just as appetising as the other juices, although the colour was seen as a little too dark by some.

Available from Tesco.

*Percentages have been rounded to whole numbers

Prefer to make your own freshly squeezed orange juice? Check out our round-up of the best juicers

Which type of orange juice contains the most vitamin C?

Oranges next to glasses of orange juice

Of the three products we tested, the freshly squeezed juice contains the most vitamin C, according to the label, while the long-life juice has significantly less

A 150ml glass of each contains:

  • Tesco Finest freshly squeezed orange juice – 71mg of vitamin C (89% of the Nutrient Reference Value – the daily recommended amount)
  • Tesco chilled smooth orange juice – 45mg
  • Tesco long-life juice – 37.5mg

The amount of vitamin C that an orange contains varies, depending on factors such as the variety of tree, the amount of sunshine the tree receives and when the orange is picked.

As vitamin C can be lost over time, fresher oranges tend to contain more vitamin C – so it follows that long-life juice is likely to contain less than freshly squeezed juices.

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Is orange juice good for you?

Person drinking glass of orange juice

We asked Which? nutrition expert Shefalee Loth for the lowdown on OJ. She told us: ‘Orange juice is a good source of vitamin C. However, juicing releases the sugars from the fruit, resulting in “free sugars2 which are damaging to your teeth.

‘Juice also won’t contain as much fibre as the whole fruit, so it doesn’t fill you up in the same way. This is why only one 150ml glass of juice can count towards one portion of your five-a-day, regardless of how much you drink.’

In short, it’s good in moderation. Remember that it’s easier to chug down juice than it is to work your way through a bowl of oranges, so keep an eye on your juice portion sizes, and ideally have it with meals to minimise the impact on your teeth.

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Which type of orange juice is most environmentally friendly?

Person shopping for orange juice

There are a number of factors that may affect the environmental impact of a particular product.

If a juice is ‘from concentrate’ (such as Tesco’s long-life juice), it means the water has been removed before shipping, reducing the weight and therefore the energy needed to transport it. Long-life juice also doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge, so less energy is needed to store it compared with chilled juices.

Some orange juices have food assurance labels on the pack, which show they’ve been certified as compliant with certain sustainability and welfare standards. For example, Tesco’s long-life juice is Rainforest Alliance certified. Find out more in our guide to food assurance labels and what they mean.

Orange juice typically comes in either a carton, plastic bottle or glass bottle, all of which can be recycled. A 2020 University of Southampton life-cycle assessment of beverage packaging (Brock and Williams) found that glass bottles are likely to have a greater environmental impact, while Tetra Pak-style fruit juice cartons are among the most environmentally friendly.

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How we taste-tested orange juice

101 consumers who regularly drink orange juice blind-tasted each orange juice and rated the flavour, mouthfeel, appearance and aroma of each one.

The order they sampled the drinks was fully rotated, and each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others.

The overall score is based on:

  • 50% flavour
  • 25% appearance
  • 20% aroma
  • 5% mouthfeel

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