I recently wrote an article on probiotic sodas. It was informative as I’ve only tried one previously and learned a lot about their origins and benefits. Shortly afterward, I was contacted by a representative for another soda, Zevia. I didn’t mention Zevia in my article as it’s not a prebiotic soda or directly related to the focus of that piece. The article did, however, discuss some healthy alternatives to standard soda.
Zevia asked if I would like to try some samples of their soda. Having never tried it and being curious, I responded, yes, and lo and behold, I received a box a short while later with 3 different Zevia sodas. I was excited to try the sodas because I enjoy experiments and like finding options to help diversify my diet or replace less healthy options.
I’m not a soda drinker myself. I used to drink regular soda but never cared for any diet or other variations. If I drink soda now, I can only have a few sips as it tends to bother my stomach. I used to drink various energy drinks with different amounts of sugar and calories, but that too, has mainly tapered off. So to account for this in my taste testing, I included a regular soda drinker and a mostly low-cal or no-cal energy drink drinker.
I received three flavors: Creamy Root Beer, Ginger Ale, and Cran-Raspberry. I was advised in a note along with the sodas that the Cran-Raspberry is a limited Winter flavor not currently available in stores. I was excited because I like most things in Winter, including Winter flavors. Regarding the other flavors, Root Beer and Ginger Ale are two of the sodas I previously used to enjoy.
The ingredients in the sodas are minimal, which is usually a good sign when it comes to healthier choices, as the more that’s in something, the less natural it probably is. The Ginger Ale has 5 ingredients, and the other two have 4.
Ingredients: Carbonated Water, Citric Acid, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Ginger Extract.
Creamy Root Beer
Carbonated Water, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid.
Carbonated Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Stevia Leaf Extract.
Stevia replaces sugar and any juice or fruit as the flavor and source of sweetness. Stevia is a natural sweetener from the stevia plant and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. The upside of stevia is that it has zero calories and makes the drink taste sweet enough to be enjoyable. Due to the no sugar, stevia doesn’t raise blood sugar which can be helpful for those with diabetes and those trying to limit calories and carbs.
The downsides to stevia are that it may interfere with some beneficial bacteria in the gut. The extent of this effect is likely based on how much you consume. This bacteria supports digestion, and immune function, which in turn impacts our risk for disease. Another possible downside is that because there are no calories, it may not fill you quite like a standard soda and lead you to feel the need to have more or possibly something else with sugar or carbs. This issue is definitely more of an individual choice than an absolute effect.
Citric Acid is another ingredient that may not be commonly known and understood. There is natural citric acid found in citrus fruits and a manufactured version often used as a food preservative. The natural version adds a sour taste, and the manufactured one can help enhance flavor and increase acidity. While it’s unclear which version is in the drink, either way, it’s included to help produce or maintain the flavor. The only downsides to citric acid are that large quantities can cause an upset stomach or eventually wear on your teeth.
The Taste Test
We chilled the sodas, poured them out one by one, and tried not to consume anything else around the time we tasted them. A fascinating note when pouring them out is that they do not have color and are essentially clear bubbly liquid.
The Ginger Ale smelled like you would expect, and I thought the flavor was pretty close to regular Ginger Ale. The trouble for me is when you first take a sip, the sweetness of the 200 times sweeter than sugar lingers in your mouth. I’m not used to this aftertaste, so it took some getting used to. Fortunately, my mouth adapted to it after a few sips, and I no longer noticed. Interestingly, I waited a while between sips at one point, and the same reaction occurred in my mouth. This flavor was my favorite of the three though I like my Ginger Ale more bold than sweet.
The energy drinker also enjoyed this flavor. While they noticed the aftertaste, they said the same thing about it dissipating. They mentioned that it was bubbly and refreshing, which I agreed with.
The soda drinker thought this flavor was okay. They noticed the aftertaste but also expected the sugar from their standard soda. This was a bit of a change as they only drink full-sugar beverages.
It’s important to note that it was not Winter or cold when we drank this flavor, and it didn’t affect our experience. Cran-Raspberry is not a typical flavor for me, and I found this drink to be a bit sweet for my taste. It has the same aftertaste effect at first and again is clear and bubbly.
The energy drinker liked this one the best, and they likened it to a flavor in some energy drinks out there. They thought that sweet or not, the taste was good and would definitely drink it again.
The soda drinker liked this one the best. They thought the sweetness aftertaste was least noticeable here. The fruity berry flavor is expected to be sweet and juicy and lends itself to the sweetness.
Creamy Root Beer
The first thing I noticed about the Root Beer was the delicious smell, and I immediately was taken back to my last root beer. It smells just like you would expect any root beer to when poured into a glass. I thought the flavor was a bit off for me, though, and I believe this is because I enjoyed root beer so much previously. I found that instead of having the depth that some root beer can have, the flavor was restricted a bit by using the sweetener.
The energy drinker also enjoyed this flavor. It should be noted that they are not as much of a root beer fan previously or currently as I am. It’s nothing like an energy drink, but they still thought it was tasty and easy to drink.
The soda drinker thought this one was okay. They currently drink root beer, and it is one of their full-sugar soda go-to flavors. They didn’t seem to have too much of a problem with their familiar favorite having increased sweetness or clear coloring.
The results seem to speak for themselves. I wouldn’t recommend drinking these close to a regular soda as the difference will be more noticeable and likely off putting. Otherwise, the drink is zero calories with little to no side effects when enjoyed in moderation. There are a variety of flavors both similar to and unique from those currently on the market.
I did visit my local chain grocery store, and Zevia was on the shelf there. Multiple flavors were available in 6 and 12 packs of cans, and the price was $7.99 for a 12-pack of 12fl oz cans, similar to that of Coke Zero at the same store.
While these may not be perfect replacements for full-sugar sodas or your longtime favorites, they are acceptable. I think those cutting calories or carbs should use these to add spice to their diet. For those with diabetes or high blood sugar, this is an easy choice for an enjoyable carbonated beverage. I believe as far as healthy drink alternatives go, Zevia is on the right track.