Taster's Choice panelists would rather drink municipal tap water than add lemon-flavored powders to their bottled water.
After trying 10 different brands of lemon mixes designed to be poured right into bottled waters, our judges were puckered out. And they were struggling to get rid of the bitter aftertastes left by many of the samples.
Some of the phrases used by panelists to describe the powdered blends included "sweet pool water," "hand wash liquid," "lemon battery acid" and "reclaimed water."
Many of us were introduced to the flavored waters while dieting or trying to cut calories. After the eighth giant glass of water each day, a flavored drink is very attractive.
But Taster's Choice panelists said the attraction is a mirage.
They reluctantly picked three powders they figured they could tolerate.
The top scoring mix was a blend from the dry grocery manufacturer, Sturm Foods ($1.97 for a box of 12 packets from Wal-Mart). Judges gave it 46 out of 100 possible points, but only two said they would buy the lemon flavoring.
Both said the mix could be refreshing in a pinch. And, they liked the balance between tart and sweet in the taste.
The others compared it to bleach tablets used on camping trips.
Another mix judges said they could tolerate was Replenish Free ($1.97 for 10 packets at Wal-Mart). Judges gave it 45 points and, again, two said they would buy it.
The Replenish mix had a strong lemony flavor but, unfortunately, the aftertaste was just as tart.
The third pick scored 42 points, but only one judge said she would buy True Lemon flavored mix ($2.99 for a box of 14 packets from Target).
She liked the extra-sweet taste of the drink and the slight yellow color. Her colleagues said it was too fake tasting.
Also sampled were lemon-flavored powdered mixes from: Crystal Light ($4.69 for a box of 14 packets from Publix); 4C Totally Light To Go ($4.79 for 20 packets from Sweetbay); Aquafusion ($1.97 for a box of 10 packets from Wal-Mart); Country Time ($2 for a box of 10 packets from Wal-Mart); Great Value ($2 for 10 packets from Wal-Mart); Propel ($2.97 for 10 packets from Wal-Mart); and Market Pantry ($2.49 for a box of 12 packets from Target).
Panelists were: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Times food critic Laura Reiley; and consumer/foodie John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc. All foods were tasted blind.
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