Sometimes I overhear customers at the grocery store deliberate on which bottled water to buy. “How does Poland Springs water taste?” they ask their friend Katy. I notice this conversation taking place and I stop dead in my tracks. I don’t dare make a sound now. Surely Katy will say, “It taste like water,” because there could be no other response. Just when I think I’m going to faint from anticipation, Katy says, “It tastes great!” and I nearly have a heart attack.

There is a true friendship, I think to myself. I am awed by Katy's sincerity. Had I been in that situation I would have responded with three hours of derisive comments and my friend would have wilted under the abuse. For the rest of his life I would have referred to him as “Evian” and introduced him to people as “an esteemed professional water taster” and whenever he wasn’t looking I would have poured bottles of water on his head, bottles of water I purchased with money I stole from his wallet.

Yet perhaps my actions would be in error. Perhaps there are marked differences between bottled water brands. To “quench” my “thirst” for an answer, I decided to conduct a taste test of five leading water brands and catalogue the results in the following ill-conceived article.

The cashier looked like she wanted to arrest me when I bought five different brands of water

The manufactures of this refreshing treat obviously haven’t been listening to TLC, because not only did they go chasing waterfalls, they found them—and the result is a beatific bottled medley of gushing arctic overtones playfully subverted by a hint of grassy sweetness. The interplay of flavors takes you tumbling downstream in a barrel of ecstasy, nearly injuring you on its jagged rocks of rebellious irregularity. Don’t be shy, though—the water offers a clean finish, fading into a fine mist as if taking a bow. Now there’s a hush, a prolonged moment of icy silence. Crystal Geyser has both electrified and cleansed your palette, and once you recover there’s only one thing to do: take another wild sip.

Because of the wallop it packs, Crystal Geyser drinks like a meal. Consider this text from the “benefits” section of their website: “Are you conscious of your weight or on a diet? Drinking more water helps to supress [sic] the appetite. Instead of snacking between meals, drink a glass of water.” This is great advice for anybody with an eating disorder, and I can't think of a single conflict of interest associated with a bottled water company advising you to drink water instead of eating between meals. I’d even go one step further: forget the meal entirely and have several delicious liters of water. At 0 calories per serving it’s a healthy alternative to food, which contrary to popular belief actually dehydrates our bodies. And I can personally say without hyperbole that Crystal Geyser is more revitalizing than drinking the blood of Christ.

Final Score: 5/10 (Tastes like water)

According to a short film offered on, a site which took me forty-three minutes to navigate, Evian water makes “a journey of 15 years, during which this water will become purified, become laden with minerals, and acquire a unique equilibrium to emerge 800 meters below at Evian.” I can personally concur: Evian water is in perfect equilibrium. It is true that the water cycle is in effect elsewhere on Earth, but normally it is an unsatisfactory process which produces inferior hydrogen atoms that cling lamely to oxygen atoms in shoddy third-rate covalent bonds. Sometimes these bonds completely fall apart in your glass and you’re left with an undrinkable mess of hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Evian provides the perfect equilibrium of hydrogen and oxygen—about two to one.

Evian water comes from the French Alps, and it’s delectable. Water from some mountains is a complete joke, particularly the mountains of South America—you wonder what sort of solar radiation is energizing the rinky-dink snowmelt and evaporation going on down there. Contrast this with Evian; it’s as if the sea god Poseidon has jerked off into a plastic bottle, such are the inimitable purities and generous dosages of minerals present in each serving. That's why it’s no surprise that Evian is among the most expensive waters on the planet, with some eateries charging up to $10 per bottle. I can tell you that I would happily pay upwards of $90 for a bottle of Evian water, because it’s wonderful and makes me feel rich both in minerals and cash, even though I'm highly deficient in both. Whenever I'm done with a bottle of Evian, I chuck it at a hobo; let him recycle that garbage for the few pennies its worth, for I haven’t got the time: I'm an Evian man.

Final Score: 5/10 (Tastes like water)

Mmm, what a spell-binding taste! Fiji water whisks you to a quiet café in faraway Suva. It’s late-evening, October; the greengrocers are shuttering their doors, revelers have begun to populate the streets. The sky is a vibrant exchange of evening hues, rills of oranges giving way to yellows and turquoises, and beyond that toward the east are colors like a whale, a hulking complication of indigos shadowed by sapphires and traces of black. You set down the pages of tabulations and annotations at which you’ve been staring for hours. Staring through, really—they haven’t been visible in this light for some time. You take a sip of water and absently breath in the stale tropical air.

You’re not really there. Physically, yes, but your head is someplace else. You’re remembering the last time you were here in the capital. You and Tia were still together, everything was just beginning. Swimming among the mangroves, trading visions of the future. Was it really so long ago? Before the accident, the trial, Edward and his damned manipulations. How you wish you could go back! Here you are, seemingly in paradise, but for you the beauty has curdled. Paradise isn’t a place, it’s a time, it’s a memory. You swig another bit of water, but this time it’s to chase down a half dozen pills. Already you’re counting down the hours till you’re on that plane, flying eastward, rocketing toward the morning sun, escaping for good this unbearable splendor. Fiji is somebody’s heaven, but not yours, not anymore.

Final Score: 5/10 (Tastes like water)

This water featured intense citrus overtones, with a sharp tangy finish. That’s possibly because by this point I was sick of drinking regular water and so mixed in some Tang. This resulted in a plucky concoction reminiscent of my family's camping trips, for which we'd always bring along some Tang. I'm still unclear about why this was, exactly, since we rarely drank Tang outside of camping. Perhaps the Tang helped cover up the taste of the campground's well water, which we'd have to pump into a bucket. These are the things I contemplated as I sipped my Aquafina mixed with Tang. Never had I been more contemplative in my entire life.

I began to think that it might be interesting to only consume products that were popular in the fifties which nobody buys now because they haven't changed their packaging or formula in fifty years. You'd drink some Tang, eat a little Jell-O, make some Jiffy Mix corn muffins. You'd definitely have to eat at least two Hostess Pies per day, those things are fucking disgusting. Then when somebody visited your house and opened your cupboard, they'd be all, "Why the hell do you only eat food from the fifties?" You'd just kind of chuckle and say, "That's my thing, man, I don't know why."

This picture was taken for no other reason than to prove I made Tang

Final Score: 6/10 (Tastes like water plus Tang)

We praise Jesus for turning water into wine, but had he been truly special he would have reverted wine into the rarefied concoction known as Dasani. Note the slippery mouthfeel and watery textures: truly this is water, in the way only water can be. Indeed there is little doubt, as this liquid ambrosia slides across your palette and enters your esophagus, that you have just taken a hearty sip of water. Had you been thirsty, your thirst would now be quenched; had you not been thirsty, your thirst would be yet delayed. Such are the fine properties of water, that versatile compound that both gives life and soaks it via balloon as part of a humorous practical joke. And what would our fine water parks be without water? A series of excoriating trips down scorching plastic slides, ending in painful ten-foot drops into empty cement basins.

Feeling adventurous? The fact is, Dasani also makes great ice. Pour it into a tray, stick it in your freezer, wait a couple hours (or in the case of my freezer, about four days), and then an icy treat will be awaiting your consumption. The cube can be enjoyed “neat,” or in combination with almost any fine beverage, including water itself. This latter option results is so-called “ice water”—a delicacy once limited to those privileged men and women with a built-in “tap” water system, but now available to anyone with a few extra dollars to spare each time he’s thirsty. 

I discovered that Dasani pairs extremely well with a tuna fish sandwich, providing a compelling contrast and allowing you to effortlessly swallow and then digest the food. The sandwich compliments the water, too, bringing out its raw liquidity and complete flavorlessness. This might also be true of other waters, but in my opinion Dasani has the richest and most scrumptious lack of flavor. It tastes exactly like any other water, but in a much more elegant way. Now I know why practicing brand loyalty when purchasing a bottle of water makes so much wonderful sense.

Final Score: 5/10 (Tastes like water)