Stevia Sweetened Drinks
Stevia sweetened drinks are gaining popularity in the marketplace. Just what exactly is in these beverages?
Zevia, SteaZ, Krisda
In a previous post, I talked about the different types of stevia and stevia products. If that wasn't confusing enough, manufacturers are not always accurate or consistent in listing the ingredients in their products. For example, SteaZ and Krisda both list "stevia" and “stevia rebaudiana leaf” as the sweetener in their beverage. Yet, only the cans accurately list “rebaudioside A” (a stevia product made from a small fraction of the stevia leaf), as the sweetener.
Here are the ingredients in each product as listed on the cans:
Zevia: Carbonated water, erythritol, caramel colour, L-tartaric acid, rebaudioside A (stevia extract), fumaric acid, natural flavour, citric acid, gum arabic, mixed tocopherols.
SteaZ: Filtered Water, Natural Erythritol (Natural Sweetener), Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Fair Trade Certified™Organic Green Tea Extract, Reba A, And Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Krisda: Carbonated water, erythritol, natural flavour, Reba A, citric acid and caramel colour.
The lowdown: Reb A is a highly purified form of stevia made from just one part of the leaf. The FDA states this about Reb A products on its website: “These products are not Stevia." Also, all three products list erythritol, a sugar alcohol, before Reb A in their ingredients.
Tropicana is owned by Pepsi which owns Purevia, a Reb-A product.
Reviews are very mixed. Many people think this product has an artificial sweetener taste. They blame the stevia but look at the ingredients blend:
Ingredients: Not from concentrate orange juice, water, citrus pulp, natural orange flavour, modified corn starch, malic acid, citric acid, corn maltodextrin, mixed tocopherols, Reb A (Pure Via brand natural pure stevia extract).”
The Lowdown: Trop50 is also sweetened with the Reb A stevia product. It also has maltodextrin...a polysaccharide with its own sweetness and taste. I don't know about you but corn starch and corn maltodextrin doesn't belong in my orange juice.
Starbucks USA was the first coffee shop to promote stevia sweetened drinks. It has 3 products:
- Handcrafted by the barista with real fruit (um...nope...not real fruit)
- cans of sparkling ready-to-drink with real fruit juice (also sold in Canada)
- Packets of Starbucks VIA Refreshers instant beverages
The lowdown: Again, Starbucks is not using stevia, but is using erythritol and “Reb A” to sweeten it’s drinks.
The Lesson: Be leery of claims such as “sweetened with stevia” on the packaging. Most, if not all stevia sweetened products use the highly refined Reb A component combined with sugar alcohols.
The best stevia drinks
- Bring your own stevia packets to coffee shops and add them to brewed iced teas and plain coffee products.
- Make your own carbonated beverages sweetened with less refined products and minimal ingredients. To make your own carbonated beverags see here.
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