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[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

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[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

If you rewind the clock to the late 1700’s you’ll arrive at the moment in history that carbonated water was invented. The inventor was Joseph Priestley and he used animal bladders to force the air into liquid. What he was thinking or aiming to achieve when he conducted that experiment is a mystery, but we have him to thank for endless aisles of carbonated beverages. By the 1800’s people had clearly refined his method of carbonation and soda water became big business. That was followed by the sugar high that was the 1900s and soft drinks. Then, the wellness era of the 2000’s when sugar was out, and sparkles were in, and soda water got rebranded as a sparkling beverage infused with natural flavorings. Which brings us to the rear end of 2021 and another Nutreats Taste Test.

 

I’m not sure if it is a matter of age or a side effect of a pandemic, but over the last two years I went from a strong dislike of sparkling water to a strong like. It happened accidentally one could say. It started as a purchase made purely for cocktails – a habit that began in level 5. Somewhere between level 5 and level 3, I started drinking the sparkling water plain, sans the alcohol and fruity flavours and it was like my palate had changed. I suddenly loved it. A glass of sparkling water can quench your thirst like nothing else.

 

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

 

My palate however was quite happy with Woolies plain sparkling water but doing a taste test on plain sparkling water seemed akin to rating bottled water. Although, I did purchase a bottle of the Seltzer brand of plain sparkling water, and it was horrific, so there may be good reason to rate plain sparkling water.

 

Nonetheless we decided to taste test flavored sparkling water options – with one caveat – they had to be sugar free.

 

We purchased all the options we could find, save for one. You can buy a case of flavored Voss sparkling water for the reasonable price of R899 which is R75 per 375ml bottle. Apparently, the bottles make great water bottles once you’ve finished drinking what can only be some kind of holy water, so if you’re in the market for water bottles you can purchase those already filled. If you’ve tried them and want to add your review, please share with the crowd in the comments.

 

The 6 brands we tried were each given a score out of 5 on the following 4 criteria:

Ingredients

We specifically selected sugar free / natural flavored sparkling water options. As such we wanted the least amount of ingredients, preferably just two – carbonated water and a flavoring.

 

Taste

The most subjective of all criteria is taste, but if you don’t like the taste of something it doesn’t matter the cost or ingredient list – you’re not going to want to buy it again. We specifically chose different flavours – variety, but in retrospect a fairer comparison would have been similar flavors. We found that citrus flavours or those with a strong ingredient (ginger) have a tendency to be bitter which lost points.

 

Level of Fizz

There are people who shake a can of carbonated soda to let out the fizz before drinking it and then there are normal people. Fizz is crucial in a sparkling water. You want crisp fresh bubbles that explode in your mouth and tickle your throat going down. Anything less is flat.

 

Price

The cans and bottles ranged in size from 375ml to 500ml but to make things easier we looked at the price per bottle or can as that’s what you’d look at when purchasing.

 

La Croix Passion Fruit Sparkling Water

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Carbonated water, naturally essenced

Although we’re unsure of what naturally essenced means, we can only assume it means they’ve added natural passion fruit essence to the fizzy water and this earns the La Croix Passion Fruit Sparkling Water full marks on ingredients.

5/5

 

Level of Fizz

This has a fantastic good crisp bubble that bursts into your mouth and tickles your throat. Exactly what you want in a sparkled beverage.

5/5

 

Taste

It smells like passion fruit, or granadilla if you will, and it tastes like you’ve squeezed some granadilla into it, so much so that you almost expect to get a pip. It has a great flavour (if you like passion fruit) and no aftertaste. Win.

5/5

 

Price

R25 for a 355ml can (but only available in a pack of 12 here)

2/5

Total: 17/20

 

A1 Lemon Sparkling Water

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Carbonated water, flavorings (lemon)

A1 is actually infused with real African fruit and is locally made bringing down its carbon footprint. If there was a bonus point we could assign for ingredients this would get it.

5/5

 

Level of Fizz

This had a softer bubble that didn’t quite pop in your mouth. It’s a soft sparkle water, ideal for those who are afraid of a post sparkle burp.

4/5

 

Taste

The smell was delicious – bright and citrusy but on first sip it smells better than it tastes. Someone suggested there was a hint of nartjie in it, I found it to have a slight aftertaste – almost like it was lemon juice from a bottle. There was something about the taste I couldn’t quite put my tongue on that didn’t make my tastebuds tingle.

3/5

 

Price

R15 for a 330ml can (available at pick n pay) or R339 for a case of 24 here (R14/can)

4/5

Total: 16/20

 

Perrier Peach Sparkling Water

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Mineral water, carbon dioxide, natural flavors

I would expect nothing less from Perrier than to break down sparkling water into mineral water and carbon dioxide lest the drinker think they are drinking carbonated tap water.

5/5

 

Level of Fizz

One can only describe this as an explosion of bubbles in your mouth. Crisp, clean, perfection.

5/5

 

Taste

This smells deliciously peachy and has a subtle yet undeniable peach flavour. It’s fresh, clean and leaves no aftertaste. Peachy really.

5/5

 

Price

I misplaced the till slip. It was somewhere between R28-R36 and purchased at Kosher World – who it would appear have either stopped stocking it or have run into a shortage as I have not been able to resource it. Had I not taken a picture of it I would be inclined to say I had imagined it, but alas it is real, I just cannot tell you where to get it from.

2/5

Total: 17/25

 

Toni Glass Sparkling Flavored Drink

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Carbonated water, Himalayan salt

In my defense when I purchased this, I was looking at the front of the can which has the word flavoured on it and not the ingredient list. Had I looked at the ingredient list I would have realized that the flavour was salt. But at least it’s Himalayan.

5/5

 

Fizz

This has a fantastic crisp bubble that tickles your throat as it goes down – the experience you want from sparkling water.

5/5

 

Taste

The flavour is Himalayan salt which isn’t so much a flavour as it is a seasoning. It has a very slight saltiness to it – like the water flavour is intensified. I Wouldn’t classify it as a flavored sparkling water but rather a sparkling water with a good water flavor. You may be able to achieve a similar taste just adding a pinch of salt to plain sparkling water

3/5

 

Price

R14 (available at most grocery stores) or R349 for a case of 24 here

3/5

Total: 16/20

 

Woolworths Litchi & Ginger Sparkling Water

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Carbonated spring water, flavoring

The standard two ingredients gets full marks.

5/5

 

Fizz

This has a very soft fizz, almost flat but not quite. But much too flat for my liking which is disappointing seeing how much I like the plain sparkling water which has perfect fizz.

2/5

 

Taste

Once again I was amazed by the smell. It smells like litchi juice but does not taste like litchi juice. The litchi flavor is there but you have to really concentrate on it. There is also a bitter undertone which is clearly where the ginger comes through. In retrospect I’m not sure what I was expecting, litchi and ginger are not complimentary flavours.

1/5

 

Price

R9.99 for 500ml bottle available here

5/5

Total: 13/20

 

Sparkling Ice Strawberry Watermelon Sparkling Water

[Flavoured] Sparkling Water Taste Test

Ingredients

Carbonated water, natural flavours, malic acid, apple juice concentrate, strawberry juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), green tea extract, potassium benzonate (to ensure freshness), sucralose, gum arabic, citric acid, ester gum, beta carotene (for color), niacinamide (vitamin B3), retinol (vitamin A), calcium pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), Biotin, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6).

This is the type of ingredient list you expect from a soft drink not water.

0/5

 

Fizz

You know when someone doesn’t tighten a bottle of sparkling water tight enough and then places it back in the fridge and then you come back a day later to flat sparkling water? This is the level of fizz this drink has.

1/5

 

Taste

It smells like strawberry and watermelon Mike and Ikes which is unsurprising given the amount of sweetener in it. It’s very sweet and on first sip quite yummy. Then it settles on your tongue and you get that unmistakable artificial sweetener aftertaste. It’s more like a watered down juice than water and an option if you have a sugar addiction and struggle to get water down.

2/5

 

Price

R28.95 for 500ml bottle

0/5

Total: 3/20

 

And the winner is…

It’s a tie between La Croix and Perrier with A1 following closely behind. If you need your sparkling water with bubbles that pop, choose canned over bottled and avoid anything with bitter flavorings or sweeteners. Alternatively, just buy plain sparkling water and naturally essence it yourself.

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