13 August, 2009

Zevia All-Natural Sugar-Free Soda

Back in July, I reviewed Zevia Root Beer. I thought it was pretty decent, with a few reservations, but it was certainly something I would buy again if only I could find it around here.

Zevia is sweetened with Stevia rebaudiana, a plant native to South America, where it goes by the colloquial name "sweetleaf." It's been used for centuries there, and unlike some of the chemical cocktails that are used as artificial sweeteners, it's completely natural. Even though I'm not that much of a tree-hugger, that appeals to me. The other thing that appeals to me is that research on stevia indicates that it might have beneficial medical properties. For most people, though, what will matter most is how it tastes.

After I published that first review, I got a message from one of the founders of Zevia, Ian Eisenberg. He was concerned that I had gotten an older version of the root beer, and offered to send me fresh samples of each of Zevia's flavors for review. Over the past couple of weeks, my family and I have been enjoying all six of Zevia's flavors, and here's what I think of them.

Ginger Ale: Excellent! Light and refreshing, with a flavor that captures the essence of ginger's bouncy fruitiness. This is one of my all-time favorite flavors of any brand of soft drink - it tastes like freshly-grated ginger (though without ginger's "heat.")

Cola: Another refreshing and quenching flavor. Subtle overtones of citrus (especially lime) set Zevia's cola well apart from the Big 2 colas, both of which have "heavier" and more aggressive flavors (not necessarily a good thing.) So much better than the swill that Coca-Cola calls "Diet Coke" that it can't even be measured.

Twist: I'm sorry to say that I just can not enjoy Zevia's take on a lemon-lime soda. It's all natural, flavored with real citrus oils, and it should be delicious. But to me, it tastes like furniture polish. This was the only one of the bunch I didn't like.

Orange: Zevia Orange relies on natural citrus oils for its flavor, the same way that Twist does. But the Orange's flavor is much less overpowering, making the drink more enjoyable to me. My wife particularly enjoyed this flavor.

Root Beer: Delicious herbal notes with a hint of licorice on the palate. I still find the flavor to be a bit thin, but as I noted last time, that's not a reason for me to take points off. After ginger ale, this is my favorite variety.

Black Cherry: Deep and authentic black cherry flavor, with hints of grape and berry lingering after. This is the only flavor where we noticed any lingering "non-sugar bitterness" but it wasn't unpleasant or overpowering.

Overall, I really like Zevia soda, and I would buy it regularly if only it was available here in northern Connecticut. And so, I will have to content myself with picking up a couple of cases when I am visiting New York (there are several stores in the Greater NYC area that sell it.)


Zevia's website.


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