Does Water Have a Flavor? Apparently, Yes!

Does Water Have a Flavor? Apparently, Yes!


Yes, we said there are different kinds of water. And we're not talking about fancy infusions and sugar-loaded sports drinks either. We're talking about the natural varieties of plain old drinking water.


If any of you have watched the 'water' episode of Zac Efron's travel show Down to Earth, you know exactly what we're talking about when we say water has flavor. But, if you haven't watched the show, let us fill you in. 


Before Efron jet-sets across the world in the second episode to explore water filtration systems in Paris, he pit-stops at a water sommelier in California. (Yes, we indeed said a water sommelier, not wine.) Efron joins Anna Kendrick at the restaurant, where they're given selected waters from all over. Each water goes on to contain various amounts and sorts of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS).


Let's Talk "Taste" and "Flavor"

Okay, so we know, "Total Dissolved Solids" may sound off-putting, but it's merely a reference to the concentration of dissolved ions like salt, sulfate, minerals, and metals found in water. The roster of organic compounds present in each water brand depends on the bottling source.


TDS contents may include calcium, chlorides, magnesium, potassium, carbonates, and bicarbonates. The amount of TDS present (or filtered) from the water affects the taste, hence flavors.  




The World Health Organization described the palatability of drinking water as being based on a scale of TDS content. But as we see during Efron's water tasting, many of the brands fall outside of the WHO's palatability guidelines. Furthermore, people are paying money for fancy waters deemed "unacceptable" by WHO.


Tasting panels reported palatability based on TDS levels as follows:


  • Less than TDS 300 mg/liter is excellent
  • Between TDS 300 and 600 mg/liter is good
  • Between TDS 600 and 900 mg/liter is fair
  • Between TDS 900 and 1200 mg/liter is poor
  • More than TDS 1200 mg/liter was deemed unacceptable by the tasting panels.


The contradiction between The World Health Organization and Efron's California water sommelier paints a picture that a palette for drinking water with high TDS content must be nurtured and acquired.


The waters offered to Efron ranged from TDS of 21 mg/liter (light and crisp) to a bottle from Slovenia with a TDS of 7400 mg/l (described as expensive and hard to find in America.) 


While the cast was tasting the bottle of ROI water from Slovenia, another one of Efron's pals, Darin Olien, roughly says, "this tastes like a coin is in it." ROI's metallic taste is justified by the Sommelier as a symptom of its functionality. It apparently has a super high magnesium content.


If you're a fan of brut (or questionable health tonics), you may be a fan of this fancy water or any water with a super high TDS mg/L.


Compare and Contrast Popular Brands Fiji and Smartwater

We know it may sound like faraway names and weird science, so we'll give you an example. The common water brand Fiji has a TDS of 222 mg/l. According to WHO, this is an excellent quality of water. However, people may think Fiji tastes funny, and others will only buy Fiji. But if Fiji falls flat, you may prefer Gerolsteiner Sparkling mineral Water; it has a TDS of roughly 2,527 mg/l. 


And for those who dislike mineral water (e.g., if Fiji water is too mineral-ly), perhaps what you're interested in is micro-filtered water. Smart water is distilled micro-filtered water with a TDS of 27mg/l. This is similar to the bottle of Svalbarði (TDS of 21 mg/l) offered to Efron during the tasting.


Of course, these are the extremes, TDS of 7400mg/l and 21 mg/l. 


Some of these waters can't replace tap water, but they can make drinking water more fun. In fact, you should switch up the types of water you're drinking. This is because high mineral content could be unsafe for the body, and very low amounts of TDS could mean the body ends up deprived of vital minerals. 


How To Drink More Water

If you're not a fan of drinking water, we have two suggestions. First off, try random brands side-by-side. Google what The Total Dissolved Solids content is for each you try and write down if you like them or not. Secondly, actively work to broaden your palate.


You don't like water, we get it, but you need to drink it to thrive. Drink water like you would fine wine; spend time learning and develop a new appreciation for simple drinking water.


(Just consider how many people cringe at their first taste of wine...and now they drink it often...)