Is it just me, or is there sparkling water everywhere you look these days? I’m not complaining—sparkling water is a great alternative to all those sugary sodas (though I do love a root beer now and again!). In the last few years, it seems like the number of fizzy waters on the shelf has exploded! Just a few years back, I feel like all I ever saw was LaCroix—a favorite of Millenials everywhere. Now, though, there are options abound in the grocery aisle. I had to check out which was best!
For this test, I had to compare apples to apples—or should I say lemons to lemons? I grabbed 11 brands of sparkling water and seltzer (did you know they’re the same thing?), all in the standard lemon flavor, to judge them blindly with a group of sparkling water fanatics. Of course, we’d love to judge all the flavors, but we’ll just start with the basics. These are the brands we tried:
- Ice Mountain
- Whole Foods
Trust me, the results are going to shock you!
Honorable Mention: Polar
For fans of fizz, check out Polar. My crew of testers just loved the amount of carbonation in this sparkling water. The flavor of this lemon option was fairly mild (though authentic), but that was just fine with most folks. For so many fans of fizzy waters, effervescence—not flavor—is the name of the game.
$1.59 for a 2L bottle or $3.50 for a 12-pack; available nationwide.
We were pretty surprised that Bubly, a Pepsi brand, placed so well in this test. How could a soda company make a healthy option that tasted so good? We’re not sure how they did it, but testers loved this brand’s big flavors—a much bolder lemon taste than any other option, hands down. For folks that like stronger fruit flavors or maybe aren’t 100% sold on sparkling water, Bubly is the brand for you. It bridges the gap between sparkling water and soda when it comes to taste while maintaining that calorie- and sweetener-free formula that we look for.
$3.50 for an 8-pack; available nationwide.
Best in Show: Klarbrunn
Just nudging out Bubly for the top spot was Klarbrunn. Our sparkling water experts were pretty astonished when they found out this lesser-known brand took the crown. In fact, several testers hadn’t ever heard of Klarbrunn. Popularity aside, this hidden gem delivered! In terms of flavor, this sparkling water walked the line between subtlety and in-your-face flavor. Testers definitely detected the lemon essence—what they considered to be the most authentic lemon option of our batch—but they didn’t find that it was overwhelming. Overall, folks agreed that this sparkling water had it all over the rest with its refreshing flavor and perfect fizz. The only drawback to this option, according to a few testers, was that this option didn’t keep its fizz for an extended period. Not a deal-breaker for most, but slow sippers be aware!
$4 for a 12-pack; available at select retailers nationwide.
This test was certainly surprising to many sparkling water fans in the office. Why didn’t their beloved LaCroix take the top spot? How did they never see Klarbrunn on the shelf before? The results might shake up their refreshment routine!
This all being said, this test was pretty darn close; nine out of our 11 brands got good scores. So while our top three were our favorites overall, we wouldn’t turn down most of these sparkling water options if they were offered to us at a party or were on sale at the grocery store (psst… do you know these money-saving tricks from Grandma?).
In the end, I can’t blame you if you want to stick with your favorite brand, though it might be worth trying a new one just for fun!