A while back, Pa B. suggested I write to natural food companies and ask for samples. In exchange for free organic goodies, I would provide press and objective reviews for the products, a win-win situation if there ever was one.

I liked the idea (who doesn’t like free stuff??), although I don’t see “Grubfirst” as a food blog and don’t want it to be dominated by product reviews or a discussion of the merits of Cookie A versus Cookie B. I was also in the midst of my Abnormal Psych. class at the time, and otherwise occupied by grad. school applications and studying for the GRE’s. Before I shelved any plans to contact food companies, however, I shot off a quick e-mail to Zevia, the makers of the orange soda I reviewed earlier in the summer. Not expecting much of anything in response, I received an e-mail just hours later from a Zevia rep. informing me that the company would love (!) to send me a mixed case of the soda in exchange for a review. The rep. even offered to send a second case towards the beginning of the school year that I could share with Active Minds, the mental health advocacy and education group I chair at Smith.

Free soda? And “healthy” at that? Of course I said yes!

Below are my reviews for the six flavors Zevia sent me– Dr. Zevia, Cola, Ginger Ale, Black Cherry, Lemon-Lime Twist and Ginger Root Beer.

Dr. Zevia: Dr. Zevia is the first imitation Dr. Pepper I know of/have tasted, and it certainly does not suffer for lack of high-fructose corn syrup. The Stevia-sweetened soda is properly peppery, and, while not as sweet as its caloric counterpart, is just as delicious as a nice cold can of Herr Doktor Pfeffer.

Cola: In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I prefaced my consumption of Zevia’s Cola with a glass of (gasp!) aspartame-y Diet Coke, which may have altered my perception of the sodie’s taste.

Zevia’s Cola is not as sweet as Diet Coke, but it ain’t bad for a diet sodie. And I imagine that it would have registered as sweeter on my palate had I not drank a cup of artificially-sweetened soda beforehand. Diet Coke addicts (Adina, I’m talking to you!), please give Zevia’s Cola a try!

Ginger Ale: I’ve never been much of a Ginger Ale fan, and did not expect to like this flavor as a result. I found the Ginger Ale to be refreshing and quite delicious, however, and would recommend that those with a penchant for the gingery stuff try Zevia’s version. Don’t forget to serve the Ale over ice in a frosty glass!

Black Cherry: Black Cherry was probably my least favorite of the Zevia flavors. It just didn’t have enough “punch” for me, and would have been much better with an extra dose (or two) of cherry flavor.

Lemon-Lime Twist: I also found this flavor lacking on the “punch” front, at least compared to something like Fresca. More citric acid needed, perhaps?

Ginger Root Beer: My undisputed favorite. Loved the gingery brew so much I forced some on my soda-wary housemate, who also found it to her liking. I imagine that even my soda-phobic mother would take to Zevia’s Ginger Root Beer.

The verdict? Zevia bills itself as “nature’s answer to diet soda,” and I would have to agree with the Seattle-based company. Some flavors may not have seemed sweet “enough” for me, but I would guess that the sodies would begin to taste just as delicious as a frosty Diet Coke once you get used to the blend of Stevia and erythritol the Zevia team uses to sweeten their wares.

For more information about Zevia, read their Frequently Asked Questions here, or browse their site. And try the Ginger Root Beer, ya hear?

P.S. Another Examiner piece for the reading here!