The BYT staff blind taste test 51 different La Croix’s, sparkling waters and club sodas. Everyone drank the bubbles. Everyone felt the bubbles.
La Croix is having a moment. Why? It’s been around for decades. Flavored sparkling water is not new or different than it was years ago. But its presence is spreading. Rather than try to rationalize the rise of flavored bubbles, we decided to rank everything we could find on Whole Foods, Safeway and Trader Joe shelves.
This is where we should point out that Topo Chico was not part of our taste test. Why? It was not found at any Whole Foods, Safeway and Trader Joe’s we visited. Could we have ordered it on Amazon? Yes. But that’s not how most people buy their flavored water. It’s a shame because for the people in the office that have had the chance to try it, it’s become their favorite. In other words, Topo Chico needs better distribution in D.C. Their reputation can not be beat.
There are some flavored waters that are in our photos that were not reviewed. Why? They tricked us. We bought some flavored waters that are sugary drinks. Sugary drinks are not flavored water. They’re sugary drinks. Flavored water should be 0 calories. We made exceptions for Spindrift because their calorie counts ranged from 1 to 15. 15 calories means it’s not a sugary drink.
Chloe: Prefers smartwater sparkling.
Jenn: Generally does not like sparkling water.
Kaylee: Hates all club soda.
Marissa: Avid sparkling water addict, prefers Whole Foods Lime
Mikala: Hates anything with bubbles that isn’t Champagne
Rather than have aficionados or people that don’t prefer carbonation, we went with a mix.
The tasters didn’t know what they were drinking. We labeled each product from A to YY. Each taster ordered a sample and received it in a clear glass.
What follows is the observations from the tasters. Each drinker rated each soda 1 through 5, 1 being bad, 5 being great. No one drank the same soda at the same time. No one drank all 51 sodas. That would not be a good idea.
Conclusions are below. Time to drink.
A. La Croix Cran-Raspberry
Chloe: Flat and meh. 1/5
Jenn: A: Very low on bubbles, almost zero. Less Than Zero. Party. This is another berry flavor but the smell isn’t as strong as V. This time the taste matches the smell. I could drink this while working out. I have yet to burp but need to. 4/5
Kaylee: Smells like raspberry? Doesn’t taste bad but the small kind of burns your nose. I’m pretty sure water isn’t supposed to do that. 3/5
B. La Croix Lemon
Jenn: This feels like a good old-fashioned orange-flavored beverage. DO squeeze this juice. 4/5
Marissa: Already going back on my decision to never drink sparkling water again. This is pretty bland. Good bubbles. My boss just sat down next to me with food and now I can’t stop thinking about how I’d rather be eating. The food smells good. This is water, but not offensive. 2/5
C. La Croix Orange
Chloe: Smells sweet, citrusy, I could drink this. The flavor isn’t too strong and I like the bubbles. 4/5
Jenn: I would use this as a mixer above all others. It’s good. Let’s party. 5/5
Marissa: Average orange-y flavored. Not great, also not offensive. I wouldn’t buy it or drink more than a sip but I also don’t want to spit it out. 3/5
D. La Croix Lime
Chloe: Hint of cinnamon but refreshing. 2/5
Kaylee: Slight lemon smell. Could be a rung out Lysol wipe. Tastes like it too! 3/5
E. La Croix Melón Pomelo
Kaylee: Smells like an ambiguous melon? I think my nostrils are just glad to have a break. 3.5/5
F. La Croix Kiwi Sandia
Chloe: It tastes exactly how it smells which is not good. 1/5
Jenn: MORE CANDY. 3/5
G. La Croix Coconut
Marissa: I’m pretty sure this is my beloved Coconut La Croix. My favorite flavor of La Croix. Smells like summer, tastes like Hawaii. 5/5
H. Dasani Sparkling Black Cherry
Chloe: I like the smells, it reminds me of Hansen’s soda and my childhood. The taste falls flat- kind of chemically. 1/5
Marissa: Smells like SweetTarts! Tastes like average berry flavored. Smell is extremely offensive but taste is not that awful. I love sparking water but would not drink this. 3/5
Mikala: Smells like candy, tastes like someone crushed up a bunch of smarties and then put them in water. 2/5
I. Refreshe Seltzer Water
Chloe: Smells like a cake cone. No apparent flavor 4/5
J. Cascade Ice Organic Lemon Lime
Jenn: Some sort of lime-flavored situation. Not too tart. The after taste is not very aggressive. This could almost be made with real limes. 2/5
K. Cascade Ice Organic Orange Mango
Kaylee: Smells like orange. Tastes like shitty water. When I want juice, I drink juice. When I want water, I drink water. It’s logic, people. 2/5
L. Cascade Ice Organic Black Raspberry
Chloe: Smells like Smarties. Tastes like generic flavored water. 2/5
Mikala: Smells like something you’d use to clean the bathtub? Tastes like bananas if bubbled? 0/5
M. Cascade Ice Organic Mixed Berry
Marissa: A berry flavor? Smells fake, like what some chemicals think berry tastes like. Awful mouth feel, my stomach already hurts. Would not buy. 2/5
N. Cascade Ice Organic Citrus Twist
Jenn: Barely any flavor to this. It could be lemon. It could just be water plus even more water. I feel nothing. 1/5
O. Cascade Ice Organic Blueberry
Chloe: I’m confused by this flavor. 2/5
P. Voss Tangerine Lemongrass Sparkling
Chloe: Smells like Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists. Not sure what the flavor is but I’m into it. 4/5
Jenn: The odor and the taste are completely different. It smells very berry-like but tastes kind of citrusy. It’s the Jekyll & Hyde of sparkling waters. I am not afraid. 4/5
Marissa: Smells orange/citrus-y. Unoffensive in taste, lightly citrus. I wouldn’t drink this on the regular. My stomach is full of bubbles, I feel slightly drunk, this is no longer fun. 3/5
Q. Voss Lemon Cucumber Sparkling
Chloe: Smells like kale tastes like nothing at first but leaves a weird sweet aftertaste. 1/5
R. Selters Classic
Marissa: This is delightful! Very effervescent and refreshing. I can totally see myself sitting in a piazza in Italy sipping this. This is some fancy water. 5/5
S. Whole Foods Lemon Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Mikala: Brandon told me this would be safe, but still good, which oddly enough is how I described my boyfriend to my mother before they met. Also lime? 3/5
T. Whole Foods Lime Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Marissa: Yum! I know exactly what this is! My beloved Whole Foods lime. Delicious, slightly limey and refreshing. It is perfect. 5/5
U. Whole Foods Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Mikala: Tastes like a sad nothingness. 0/5
V. Whole Foods Lemon Raspberry Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Jenn: Very strong odor. It hit me well before I started drinking. Strange, the smell is much stronger than the taste. It smells kind of like pomegranate (who am I, do I really know how that smells???). It tastes like air…not the French electronic duo. 2/5
W. Whole Foods Lime Mint Elderflower Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Chloe: Smells like mint flavoring tastes like mint flavoring. 1/5
Jenn: Wanna drink mouthwash? We got you. 1/5
Marissa: Apparently I might know what this is right away. I do not know what this is. It’s a bit herby and savory. Everyone hates it. I don’t hate it, but I am confused by this savory taste. The aftertaste is terrible though. Like you fell into the grass and got a mouthful of dirt. 2/5
Mikala: Jenn looked like she was going to vomit from drinking this, so obviously I had to have it, and oh my god it’s just fucking mouthwash. For sure this is Scope Mouthwash. 0/5
Kaylee: Smells like nothing, tastes like nothing. I like it! And by like, I meant it doesn’t make me nauseous. 4/5
Marissa: Why is this kind of salty? Smells fruity/citrus-y, etc. But I definitely perhaps just need a new glass. The burping will not stop! I feel like this is unflavored. Would not buy. Not tasty, not fun, not worth it! 1/5
Z. S. Pellegrino
Kaylee: Smells like regular water! I’m so excited! I feel more hydrated than any of the other taste tests. This is my favorite. If I ignore the carbonation it’s just like delicious, delicious water.
Marissa: Ah, I feel like this is Pellegrino. The classiest of sparkling waters. The bubbles are small and delightfully effervescent. If you want a quality sparkling water, there’s a reason Pellegrino is so popular. 5/5
AA. Perrier Pink Grapefruit
Jenn: Much like actual AA I am now ready to admit I’m powerless against my body’s response to this much carbonation. Help. I’m getting a strong grapefruit vibe from this one. I don’t like grapefruits but I do like this. 3/5
BB. Perrier Lemon
Chloe: No smell slight hint of lime. 2/5
Mikala: Smells good, but tastes like what I assume battery acid tastes like? Also apricot? God how do we even know what anything tastes like? Bodies are crazy! 1/5
CC. Perrier Lime
Chloe: Slight hint of sweet on the nose but no taste. 3/5
Marissa: Smells…lemon-y? Tastes…like cleaning solution (I imagine) with an aftertaste of something gross. Like feet. There is an aftertaste of feed. 1/5
DD. Perrier Green Apple
Kaylee: I can’t believe I don’t have to pee yet. This one smells like a watermelon rind. Tastes like one too! These beverages are all very one note. Give me the complexity of a cold ginger ale. 2/5
Chloe: No smell, no taste. 5/5
Jenn: Another very strong odor but NO taste. Weird…science. It smells like root beer. It tastes like Groot (NO TASTE) beer. 2/5
FF. Italian Sparkling Mineral Water
Chloe: Zero smell, zero bubble but not like still water. 2/5
Jenn: At this point I am placing the glass against my face doing Darth Vader impressions. I am everyone’s father. Everything is faint with this one: bubbles, odor and taste. Fetch me my fainting couch. – 1/5
Marissa: This is super boring. Just tastes like water and the bubbles aren’t even all that big. It is the epitome of fine. 3/5
GG. Schweppes Club Soda
Brandon: Club soda meant for mixed drinks.
HH. Spindrift Grapefruit Sparkling Water
Marissa: This is grapefruity! Color is a nice change from all the clear things we’ve been drinking lately. It’s great. Not too sweet, really fruity. 5/5
II. Spindrift Raspberry Lime Sparkling Water
Chloe: I Iike the color (pink-ish). I don’t like the things floating in it. I assumed this would be sweet. It was not. 1/5
JJ. Spindrift Blackberry Sparkling Water
Jenn: A melted cranberry cough drop except I am more sick? 1/5
Marissa: This reminds me of cold medicine. This is absolutely awful. I will never drink sparkling water again. This is Robotussin. Who gave me Robotussin? 0/5
Mikala: Tastes like what imagine carbonated cranberry juice would taste like if someone peed in. 1/5
KK. Spindrift Lemon Sparking Water
Kaylee: Looks like dirty tap water. I’m afraid. Tastes better than the first one! Slightly lemon-y. Almost like watered down Sprite. I’d still rather have Sprite. 4/5
LL. Aquafina Sparkling Mango Pineapple
Chloe: Smells like candy tastes not like candy. 1/5
Marissa: Very tropical and fruity. Kind of giving me a headache but it’s a pleasant tropical headache. Bubbles are nice. 4/5
Mikala: Smells like Hawaii, tastes like if a Pina Colada was made with water instead of rum. 4/5
MM. Soleil Blood Orange
Mikala: No more water please, I’m so full. Lime maybe? I feel like my dentist is gonna be mad at me because this cannot be good for your enamel. 2/5
NN. Deer Park Sparkling Black Cherry
Chloe: Chemical smell again potentially coconut? Not very bubbly not offensive but not great. 2/5
Jenn: After the taste it’s the after taste in the hotel lobby and like R. Kelly himself, this after taste is awful. 1/5
OO. Deer Park Sparkling Mandarin Orange
Chloe: Not offensive, not sweet, minimal flavor and good mouth feel but not refreshing. 3/5
Mikala: This is just water that tastes like it expired. 0/5
PP. Deer Park Sparkling Raspberry Lime
Jenn: Finally, a carbonated jolly rancher. The world (didn’t) ask for it but we got it! 2/5
QQ. Deer Park Sparkling Original
Jenn: This has a faint, sweet small like cotton candy. I’m horrified by that. This has no taste though, like my ex-boyfriend’s mother. 2/5
Mikala: This just takes like water. And peaches? Maybe? 2.5/5
RR. Poland Spring Sparkling Lime
Mikala: Wow, Chloe and I have already burped so many times and I do not want to be the first person here that has to take a bathroom break because I refuse to be weak!! This one smells way too much like Sprite to be water. It tastes nothing like Sprite, unfortunately. 1/5
SS. Poland Spring Sparking Raspberry Lime
Chloe: No small good flavor, slightly sweet- would drink this with a meal but not on it’s own. 4/5
TT. Refreshe Club Soda
Chloe: Plain and I love it. 5/5
UU. Refreshe Strawberry Watermelon
Marissa: This literally tastes like fluoride. Like the flavored fluoride you get as a kid at the dentist. I feel like it’s strawberry flavored. This is also gross. 1/5
VV. Refreshe Orange Creme
Jenn: My teeth have fallen out. I just located all the sugar. Oh no. 2/5
Marissa: Smells…grapefruit. Oh wow that has a strong, strong sweetness to is. A fake sweetness. I’m changing my mind. I think it is orange flavored. This is absolutely awful. I would rather be having my teeth pulled than drink more of this. Tastes like over sweet orange syrup.
WW. Refreshe Cranberry Raspberry
Mikala: Tastes like fake raspberries. 4/5
XX. Refreshe Key Lime
Chloe: Doesn’t look like there are bubbles. Smells like windex. It’s very sweet like flat Sprite. 1/5
Kaylee: It’s got to be cream orange. This is heinous. This tastes like ice cream vomit. Everything is bad. 1/5
Marissa: Probably the worst yet! These fake sweet ones make me shiver in displeasure. I forced the photographer to try it with me and he said it tastes like SweetTarts. It tastes like someone peed on Halloween candy and bottled it. 0/5
Mikala: Holy shit this one is actually good. Of course the one I let Cale pick for me is good. Thanks, boss! 5/5
YY. Refreshe Mango Pineapple
Jenn: WHY? WHY? Coconut is God’s curse. 1/5
Kaylee: It’s sweet and I hate myself? Why has god forsaken me? 0/5
La Croix in regular size cans is better than the skinny cans.
No one prefers the new Cascade Ice.
The Whole Foods line makes good lemon and lime flavored water. The Whole Foods Lime Mint Elderflower is definitely an acquired taste.
Spindrift is either great or awful. The floating fruit is off putting to some.
Deer Park and Poland Spring are accurately priced. They’re not as good as La Croix but they’re cheaper than the big name and more expensive than the house brand.
The Refreshe line is too sweet. Too sweet across the board. But their basic club soda is fine.
Unflavored club sods is unflavored club soda. There’s no reason to buy the most expensive when you’re just mixing drinks or want some bubbles.
Topo Chico needs better distribution. While we can’t promise it would have won a blind taste test, it was the only product line everyone still wanted to drink after an hour of bubbles.
Special thanks to Whole Foods for providing some of the product.