Zevia With Stevia: An Office Taste Test

Categories: Show & Tell
zevia.jpg
Laine Doss
Look at all the pretty colors....
No, this isn't some new, tween-targeted Disney Channel show about twins in middle school. Zevia is a fairly new soda brand, mostly sold in specialty food shops like the Fresh Market. Instead of using sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or unicorn laughter as a sweetener, Zevia uses stevia.

Zevia, which sells for about 99 cents for a 12-ounce can, sounds great on paper. It's made with stevia, a plant in the sunflower family that's about 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia was given the green light by the FDA to be used as a sweetener in foods in 2008. Since then, it's been marketed as the most-natural sugar substitute. You can even buy a stevia plant at your local Home Depot for about $4, and the leaves can be chewed or made into a sweet tea.

Zevia also contains no artificial colors or flavors, MSG, phosphoric acid, or sodium, and is kosher.

We received a case of the soda at the New Times offices. The sampler of about a dozen flavors resembled a rainbow, with each can a different vibrant color to match the flavor inside. The staff was more than eager to participate in a soda taste test.

The result?

Well, it was hit or miss for the soda, with a lot of flavors getting a failing grade from the informal taste testers who gathered in the office kitchen. One tester couldn't get over the fact that most of the flavors were clear -- including the grape. "That's not supposed to be clear. What is this, Pepsi Free?"

Zevia also seems to be less carbonated and zippy than most popular sodas, leading the crew to announce it seemed flat, with a bitter aftertaste.

Flavors that didn't make the cut included Dr. Zevia ("dude, that's just nasty") and cream ("the worst"). The Mountain Zevia's natural yellow coloring didn't go over too well ("it looks like a urine sample") as the taste test grew increasingly louder and and opinions became less restrained.

What did work? Fruit flavors seemed to go over well, probably because they were made with natural flavoring. Grape ("this actually tastes good"), orange ("it tastes like real orange, not fake-ass orange"), and grapefruit citrus ("just like my grandmother's Fresca") were especially well-received.

In conclusion, if you're looking for an alternative to soda with high-fructose corn syrup, this might be worth a try. As our web editor said, "Well, at least we're not getting fat." You can't argue with logic like that.

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