Best bottled water | Still bottled water taste test
Our mission: to find the best bottled still water available in the UK. Read on for the results of our expert taste test (surprisingly, the cheapest bottle won!)
Did you know that, according to the NHS, a normal adult is supposed to drink between six and eight glasses (1.2 litres) of fluid a day? And of course, much better that we be enjoying water than sugary or caffeinated beverages.
So in an effort to improve our on-the-go water intake (in the office we stick to filtered tap water), team olive conducted a taste test to find the most delicious shop-bought bottled water… and yes, you really can tell the difference between each brand.
How it worked
Our taste test was open to any still bottled water brand that’s available to buy in the UK. The chilled waters were tasted blind, by two different groups: a) the olive magazine team and b) a duo of olive magazine readers who drink nothing but still water (not even the fizzy kind).
Whether plastic or glass, every bottle we used in our taste test was recycled – neither substance should be thrown away alongside general waste.
Each group chose a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. And quite unexpectedly, both picked the same overall winner (which also happened to be the cheapest bottle)…
1st place (for both Group A and Group B): AQUA Carpatica
What is it? AQUA Carpatica is ‘the only naturally nitrate-free and low sodium level bottled natural mineral water on earth.’ It has a high alkaline pH level of 7.8 and comes from an area of the Carpathian Mountains completely untouched by agriculture or industry activity.
Comments: The epitome of purity. It’s clear in presentation, thirst quenching, reviving, clean, fresh, delicate and light on the palate – the outright winner. Plus at 7.9p per 100ml, it was the cheapest bottled water in our taste test.
Price: 79p/1L, ocado.com
2nd place (for Group A): FIJI
What is it? This water began life as tropical rain falls, which are ‘purified by equatorial trade winds’ and ‘slowly filtered by volcanic rocks’ in the mountains above Fiji, where it gathers minerals and electrolytes. It’s this process that apparently gives FIJI water its ‘soft, smooth taste’.
Comments: Pleasant and mountain fresh. Quite pure and ever so slightly sweet.
Price: £1.49/1L, Waitrose
2nd place (for Group B): Willow
What is it? Willow Water can trace its roots back to the 12th century, when it was discovered by Augustinian Monks. It’s sourced from the Willow Spring of Cartmel, in the Lake District, and is drawn from a prehistoric willow forest rich in peat and limestone.
Comments: A delightful water, quite unique in taste, that’s lively and thirst quenching. It lacks a little of the purity found in AQUA Carpatica, but is a very close second nevertheless. Beautiful glass bottle, too.
Price: £1.42/1.5L, Waitrose
3rd place (for Group A): Bio-Synergy H2Eau (cardboard carton)
What is it? Natural spring water from Hadrian Well in Northumberland. H2Eau is part of the Bio-Synergy brand (experts in sports nutrition) and comes in both plastic bottles and cardboard cartons.
Comments: Clear, mineral and ever-so-slightly metallic. Quite sweet and refreshingly smooth. Group B wasn’t as keen, citing that the taste wasn’t distinctive enough.
Interesting point: H2Eau comes in both a plastic bottle and a cardboard carton. Group A much preferred the taste of the cardboard carton water, while Group B favoured the plastic bottle water.
Price: £50p/500ml, available at Primark stores
3rd place (for Group B): Harrogate
What is it? Spring water taken straight from the source in Yorkshire’s Harrogate, then bottled immediately to ensure optimum purity and freshness. It’s virtually absent of nitrates and nitrites.
Comments: So refreshing and thirst quenching – just beaten into third place because of the purity of Aqua Carpatica and the distinctive nature of Willow.
Price: £1/750ml, Tesco
We also liked…
Waitrose Royal Deeside
What is it? This water flows naturally through the ancient granite of Scotland's Grampian Mountains and is bottled at Pannanich Wells, Aberdeenshire. Apparently Queen Victoria praised it in one of her highland journals.
Comments: Quite aerated and a distinctive mineral taste; very similar to Harrogate water. We could detect a little salt, but if you like your water distinctive this could be one for you.
Price: 95p/750ml, Waitrose
Co-op Fairbourne Springs
What is it? The Co-op is the only supermarket that sells an own-brand charity water (sales of Fairbourne Springs have helped communities across Sub-Saharan Africa for the last decade).
Plus since January 2017, donations have increased: for every litre sold of any still, sparkling or flavoured Co-op water, 3p is sent to The One Foundation to be invested in clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Africa.
Comments: A refreshing, very drinkable water. Impossible not to like, although a little sweeter than most other bottled waters.
Price: 45p/500ml, Co-op stores
Do you have a favourite bottled water? And have you tried AQUA Carpatica yet? Let us know! (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @olivemagazine)