The editors here at the Friedman Sprout put on a very informal water brand taste test (and compared those brands to the taste of tap water). See what brands we sampled and what some students had to say about the different brands we ranked:
$1.79 per liter
Touted as “Earth’s Finest Water” on the brand’s website, Fiji water is sourced from an artesian well. The website offers beautifully scenic photos of the Fijian islands and a romantic narrative about the origins of its water that commences with, “It all begins as a cloud.” Priced at about $1.79 per liter, Fiji was described as “soft,” “sweet”, and “earthy” while some thought it was too mineraly, tasted like paper, and had a slight aftertaste. http://www.fijiwater.com/the-water/
$1.59 per liter
Glaceau’s brand is “vapor-distilled” and “inspired by clouds.” In fact, clicking on the website brings viewers to the middle of the brand’s page only to be directed to “scroll up.” A few scrolls and the it is clear that the brand is emphasizing that clouds are the inspiration behind the water (oddly enough since the technique is done in a lab through vapor-distillation). Vapor-distilling results in purified water due to a specialized heating process that converts water into steam. The steam is then compressed and “superheated.” This superheated steam then travels back into the chamber in which it was boiled and condenses in a newly purified form. As a result, this water does not contain potentially beneficial elements such as fluoride as is in tap water. Vapor-distilled water like Smartwater brand does not occur naturally and is therefore created in a lab. Likers of this water described it as “clean and delicate,” “thirst-quenching,” and tasting like water should taste. Non-fans noted a metallic taste an almost “fuzzy” feeling that the water left in the mouth. Others thought the smooth taste also gave way to a sort of plastic aftertaste. http://www.drinksmartwater.com
$1.99 per liter
Right on the package, this brand touts its 8.4 pH level. According to the brand’s website, this water is bottled “from the legendary Olfus Spring” in Iceland. The brand further explains that its water contains “the lowest TDS level in the industry at 62 parts per million.” TDS, or Total Dissolved Solids, level measures the amount of sodium, calcium, magnesium, and other elements in the water. Due to its low mineral content, this brand assures consumers that “ice cubes made from Icelandic Glacial are crystal clear.” A Mineral Analysis Table shows the different amounts of elements found in the water right on the website and, supposedly, “the first time [this water] comes into contact with open air is when you break the [cap’s] seal.” Tasters described this water as “mineraly,” “soft..not thirst-quenching,” and “not good,” while others thought it tasted “clean”. http://icelandicglacial.com/about/the-water/
$.99 for 12 oz.
A favorite water-delivery brand of offices and institutions across the U.S., Poland Spring is bottled under a subsidiary of Nestle. According to the brand’s website, the water is only sourced from “carefully selected springs” in Maine and contains naturally-occurring minerals for a “crisp, clean taste.” Friedman tasters were familiar with the taste of this brand and described this water as “bitter,” “metallic,” and “fresh.” One taster went so far as to note, “This is water. Everything I would hope for and expect from ‘water’.” http://www.polandspring.com/
$3.19 for 1 liter
This brand boasts a “patented 13-step 11-hour filtration and purification process” that supposedly “transforms drinking water into smaller, more readily absorbed water clusters.” These resulting water clusters are said to hydrate better resulting in “peak performance.” And remember how Icelandic Glacial brand lauded their own 62 ppm TDS level? Penta claims to have just 1 part per million Total Dissolved Solids. But even at it’s pricey rate, tasters weren’t impressed. One called it “bland” while another thought it tasted too mineraly. While others claimed they tasted “metallic” and “soapy” tastes, there were some who described it as “sweet” and “thirst-quenching.” http://www.pentawater.com/
Tap water from the M&V building
The last of our samples was plain old tap water, sourced from the M&V building right next door. What did tasters say about this water? “More fresh,” “crisp and clean,” and “not metally [sic] at all” were some of the descriptions, while other tasters could sense a taste of chlorine in the sample.
Whether from the tap or from a bottle, it’s clear there is a specific water source out there for everyone. Finding it hard to choose? Go the way of tap. At least it’s free!