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I tried 6 types of sparkling water brands and one is clearly the best in the fizz

While I'd use some of these varieties in a drink, there was only one I'd consistently sip on its own throughout the day.
Which of these bubbly waters rises to the occasion?
Which of these bubbly waters rises to the occasion?TODAY Illustration

Sparkling water may not be the most exciting beverage in the world, but its flavor and texture can be as nuanced as a bottle of wine. And while I don’t claim to have the palate of a master sommelier, I do think my tongue’s ability to decipher the bubble level, heaviness and taste of bottled water is above average . I’m basically Abigail Breslin’s character in "Signs" where I frequently find Adam’s ale to “taste funny,” though I haven’t used this special skill to ward off any unwelcome aliens (yet).

While varieties flavored with fruit essences are strongly preferred (Waterloo Grape is my personal favorite), sparkling water is only as good as its plain and boring foundation. So I rounded up six unflavored brands for this week’s taste test, from mainstream to bougie, canned to glass, but all easily and readily available for purchase on Amazon. There should be an option for everyone and, because it’s water, you’ll have the perks of hydration no matter what you personally decide to invest in. These are just my opinions on what ranks supreme. (And yes, millennials, your beloved LaCroix is included in the mix. But — spoiler alert! — it wasn’t my favorite.)

Check out how they stacked up.

Editor’s note: Sparkling mineral waters like Pellegrino and Topo Chico are not included here. While some of the chosen six are also sourced naturally, they do not contain minerals like sodium, magnesium and calcium to be marketed as sparkling mineral water. They are also not naturally carbonated. Be sure to check out this comprehensive guide to the difference between seltzer, sparkling water, club soda and tonic water for further clarity.

6. Hal’s New York Seltzer Water

I want to preface this ranking by saying that all of these products make ideal drinking options. Characteristics like carbonation level and flavor are completely dependent upon personal preferences, so what quenches one’s thirst may aggravate another’s.

That said, this was the most aggressively carbonated water on the list. And for this reason alone, it ranked last. You have to take small sips of it in fear of choking on bubbles, which wasn’t the most pleasant guzzling experience. This bottle, however, would make a wonderful addition to sparkling water-based cocktails, so buy it and store it next to your vodka and tequila to use on a rainy — or rough — day.

5. LaCroix Sparkling Water

I’m a LaCroix Boy through and through, but the brand’s Pure variety doesn’t stand up to its unique flavors like Passionfruit and Hi-Biscus. In fact, my palate is so used to a fun, fruity detour that I’d classify this flavor as "can." There was a metallic aftertaste that was off-putting and wasn’t salvaged by a splash of lime juice or extreme cold (I popped it in the freezer for a good 10 minutes). While I appreciated this being the only canned option on the list, just out of sheer refrigerator storage convenience, I’ll stick to LaCroix's beloved flavored iterations to get me through a long work week.

4. Vintage Seltzer Water

The effervescence of Vintage was particularly sharp and lingered in the back of my throat even after I took a giant gulp, but it was the most flavorless of the bunch, making it an ideal H2O for anyone who may want to add enhancers like lemon wedges or flavored powders. Like Hal’s, this is definitely one you’ll want to store in your liquor cabinet because it will lend itself quite well to cocktails, especially as a floater or bubbly splash for drinks like sangria and mojitos.

3. Poland Spring Sparkling Water

This was the sparkling water that surprised me most. Poland Spring is a solid flat water choice, but it’s never been anything to write home about. Its sparkling variety, however, really impressed me with bubbles that lingered on the base of the tongue instead of assaulting my esophagus on the way down. Its skinny bottle was also appreciated as it fit in my already-stuffed-to-the-brim backpack to be enjoyed throughout the day.

2. Saratoga Sparkling Spring Water

If you’ve got the cash to drop and you’re feeling extra bougie, Saratoga Sparkling Spring Water’s big blue bottle is the one for you. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the presentation or the actual water itself, but the quality just tasted superior to its competition with a ticklish range of bubbles and subtle earthy notes. Serve this one at a dinner party to impress your guests or at least convince them into thinking you’re a secret sparkling water connoisseur.

1. Polar Seltzer

Affordable, accessible and the most sippable, Polar Seltzer takes top honors. It is sparkling water perfection, both in taste (crisp, light, refreshing) and carbonation (gentle, but not weak). I knocked back a liter of the aqua in mere minutes and it was the only one I actually craved an hour later. Polar also offers an abundance of flavored varieties (and in cans), so I’m excited to continue this sparkling water journey and stock my pantry with all of the essentials.*

*Proof that I need to find more hobbies.