Taste Test: Water Flavorings
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We Tried 9 Water Flavorings and These Are the Best

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Group of Several Packages of Water Flavorings
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Powder Power

There's no denying that the popularity of water flavorings has exploded in recent years. Often available as packets of powder, squeezable bottles of liquid, or dissolvable tablets that can be added to a water bottle, offer a beverage option that's more convenient, replenishing, and typically much lower in sugar than a soda or a sports drink. But for those looking to add a little something extra to their water, the myriad of options on the shelves may seem overwhelming, and there can be a pretty gigantic range in quality. Which one should you reach for, you ask? Great question. Here are our answers.


Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.


Related: The Most Unnecessary Flavors From Classic Food Brands

Gatorade Thirst Quencher Powder, Frost Glacier Freeze
Amazon

Best Overall Water Flavoring: Gatorade

$11 for one 76.5-oz. canister from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Monopotassium phosphate, sodium citrate
Flavors: Orange, Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, Glacier Cherry, Glacier Freeze
Highlights: This tastes almost exactly like a real Gatorade.


It’s probably not fair to hand Gatorade the trophy here, considering most of these other companies are actively trying to provide a lower-sugar Gatorade alternative. Unfortunately, the world of water-flavor taste testing is an extremely serious one, and we must proceed without handicaps. The sad truth is that sugar tastes very, very good. It tastes better than artificial sweetener (but also, so does literally everything else on Earth). The fact that you can basically make your own Gatorade at home is a total game-changer. It’s perfect for people that drink Gatorade frequently, and need them in various noble situations, like playing sports or being extremely hungover. Any Gatorade drinker should stock this.


Related: What You Can and Can't Buy With SNAP Benefits

Propel Powder Packets with Electrolytes 4 Flavor Variety Pack
Amazon

Best Bang for Your Buck: Propel

$15 for a five-box variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Ascorbic acid, niacinamide, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Grape, Kiwi Strawberry, Raspberry Lemonade, Berry
Highlights: It’s a great price for the quality.


Propel’s flavor lineup is all over the place, but once you know which flavors to go for, the quality is pretty solid for the cheap price. The Kiwi Strawberry, which is normally the last flavor we’d go for, really isn’t bad, and the same goes for the Strawberry Lemonade. The Grape, however, is horrid and fully unfit for human consumption. Grab yourself one of the other flavors and call it a day.

Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets Tubes 4-Pack
Amazon

Most Fun Water Flavoring: Nuun

$21 for a four-tube variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, avocado oil
Flavors: Orange, Citrus Fruit, Tri-Berry, Lemon Lime
Highlights: They’re fun to watch and aren’t too gross.


There’s something about taking out a Nuun tablet, dropping it into the water, and watching it fizz that is incredibly satisfying. It almost makes us feel like a kid again, with your science teacher doing a volcano in class. It’s almost hypnotic. Despite the slight twinge of aspartame, the flavors aren’t bad, particularly the Lemon Lime. Tri-Berry is pretty solid, and Orange and Citrus Fruit flavors taste pretty much identical. You’re paying for the experience with this one.

DripDrop ORS Hydration Electrolyte Powder Packets Variety 32-Count
Amazon

Best Low-Sugar Water Flavoring: DripDrop

$36 for a 32-count variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Ascorbic acid, citric acid
Flavors: Watermelon, Berry, Lemon, Orange
Highlights: There’s no artificial sugar here, so the taste truly isn’t bad at all.


If you’re going for something low-sugar to compete with a name brand sports drink, DripDrop is what you want. It somehow has half the sugar of a Gatorade, despite also containing sugar itself. The flavors are surprisingly palatable, but the packages are bigger than your average powder packet so it can be easy to use a little too much. Watermelon is the best flavor by far, but lemon isn’t bad at all, and though the berry flavor may be a little too sweet, it’s extremely drinkable.

Crystal Light Sugar-Free Fruit On-the-Go Variety Pack
Amazon

Sneakiest Water Flavoring: Crystal Light

$10 for a 44-count variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Lemonade, Cherry Pomegranate, Raspberry Lemonade, Wild Strawberry
Highlights: They are dirt cheap.


You know the deal with Crystal Light — the flavors all start out with a sort of "Hmm, that's not bad!" type of feeling, and then quickly there is an aspartame-flavored mutiny, and all you're left with is the horrible taste of artificial sugar. This is the case with every single Crystal Light flavor. Every single time you take a sip you go through this emotional up and down, and simply, we can’t take it anymore. It just hurts too much.

Fluid Tactical Variety Pack
Amazon

Most Upsetting Water Flavoring Smell: Fluid Tactical

$22 for a 25-count variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Potassium citrate, cane sugar, citric acid
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Wild Berry, Lemon Lime, Orange, Grape
Highlights: Cane sugar means no gross aspartame aftertastes.


Despite the fact that Fluid Tactical’s taste is truly pretty solid (except the Grape — avoid that at all costs), it’s a little hard to get past the smell. No other water flavor supplement we tried made a smell when the powder hit the water, but Fluid Tactical’s sure did. And let us tell you: That smell was extremely disagreeable. Every single flavor did this. Hey Fluid Tactical — what’s going on with that?

MiO Sugar-Free Berry Variety Naturally Flavored Liquid Water Enhancer
Amazon

Least Appealing Visual Experience: MiO

$14 for four-bottle variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Malic acid, citric acid, acesulfame potassium
Flavors: Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Cherry Blackberry, Orange Tangerine
Highlights: If you find any, please let us know.


MiO is very, very weird. It comes in a tiny plastic bottle, and you squirt it into your drink. You are never, nor could you ever be, ready for how incredibly vivid and bright the colors are. When it hits the water, it looks like blood spreading out across the top of the water in “Lake Placid.” The colors could be described as ranging from “a human being’s blood” all the way to “a space alien’s blood,” so any drink you make with MiO is going to look positively radioactive. All in all, preparing a MiO is a highly unpleasant experience, and we suggest you avoid it.

True Lemon Assorted Beverage & Lemonade Drink Mixes 5-Pack
Amazon

Biggest Whiff: True Lemon Lemonade

$20 for a five-box variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, cane sugar, and (for some reason) beet juice
Flavors: Original, Mango, Raspberry, Black Cherry, Peach
Highlights: It’s a good idea in theory, and there’s a lot of variety here.


This one was almost there. The idea to do different types of lemonade is a good one. If you’re thirsty, would you rather go with a glass of lemonade, or "blue raspberry?" No, you want something that’s normal and naturally occurring, and maybe even resembles the classic Country Time lemonade powder. The different lemonade flavors, particularly Peach and Mango, are interesting, but every True Lemon flavor suffers from the same thing: way too much artificial sugar flavoring. It’s extremely difficult to finish one glass.

Stur Liquid Water Enhancer 4-Pack Founder's Favorites
Amazon

Worst Overall Water Flavoring: Stur

$16 for a four-bottle variety pack from Amazon
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Key ingredients: Citric acid, stevia extract, vegetable juice
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Strawberry Watermelon, Lemonade, Blueberry/Blackberry
Highlights: It’s sort of fun to squeeze.


We take no pleasure in bestowing this award, but this madness simply must stop. Stur is out-of-this-world gross. You’re dealing with all the worst parts of MiO, but since the color is consistently murky and grey, this looks a lot more like that weird soup that Dumbledore has to eat in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Every flavor is loaded with what tastes like 10 pounds of Sweet ‘N Low, and they’re all pretty undrinkable. Don’t buy this (unless you’re Dumbledore).