Cucumber water is essentially any water, usually filtered or purified, in which cucumber slices steep. It is a beverage that is almost always served cold, usually from a pitcher or carafe. The longer the cucumber slices are allowed to sit in the water, the more the water takes on their flavor and essences. Cucumbers are believed by many in the health community to have purifying effects, and drinking cucumber water is often lauded as a simple and tasty cleanse.
The precise origins of cucumber water are unknown, but the trend of adding the vegetable to drinking water became popular in North America and much of Western Europe through health spas. Spas typically serve patrons herbal teas, infused water, and other natural concoctions both before and after treatments. This is said to help the detoxification process and aid in relaxation.
Nearly all naturally infused waters are held out as healthy beverages, but the potentially purifying properties of cucumber make it an especially popular option. The cucumber has a fresh, crisp taste that is not overpowering. As it is mostly water itself, the cucumber has a very low caloric content, while packing in a number of vitamins and minerals. When slices are soaked in water, that water will, over time, pick up hints of their flavor, as well as trace amounts of inherent nutrients.
Sliced cucumber in cool water tends to seem refreshing and purifying, regardless of whether the infused water actually carries any detoxifying properties. This perception is one of the main reasons that cucumber water is so popular in many places. Outside of spas and health centers, the water is often served in high-end hotels, at summer luncheons, and in a range of garden-style restaurants.
One of the best parts of cucumber water is that it is extremely easy to make, and is quite inexpensive besides. Cucumber and water are quite simply the only ingredients. Some hosts will pair cucumber with other complementary flavors, particularly mint and citrus, but even these variations are more innovative than they are costly or challenging. Different infusions can make drinking water — which is essential for any sort of purification, as well as for general good health — more enjoyable for many.
It is usually important that the cucumbers be sliced relatively thin in order to transfer the most flavor. Thicker chunks of the vegetable do not absorb as well, and tend to look more clumsy, too. Something about the delicacy of paper-thin cucumbers floating in a pitcher of chilled water adds to its appeal. It is common to serve the water in clear glass carafes or pitchers, but it can also be infused directly in individual tumblers, often with a small cucumber wheel or twist as garnish.
The popularity of cucumber water has led some bottled water manufacturers to market and sell mass-produced versions of the beverage. Most of the time, these products are sold in health food stores or on the specialty aisles of many supermarkets. They are often little more than standard bottled water with cucumber essence, often with some chemical preservatives added to lend stabilization and shelf life.