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Spot the difference

Unlabelled bottled water

Credit: iStockphoto

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I've got a few friends who reckon they prefer the taste of bottled water to tap water.

I'm a bit tempted to do a taste test with them, to see if it's the taste of the water or the pretty labels on the bottles that make the difference.

I can taste the difference between some different brands of water, but not enough to make me prefer one brand to another, or even to be able to tell which one is which if I were blindfolded.

Apparently I'm pretty normal in this regard: Choice magazine did a taste test in 2005, comparing two leading brands of water and tap water.

All were at room temperature, served in plastic bottles. 21 people were asked to identify the odd one out, and state which one of the three they preferred. There was no clear winner in the preference test, and tasters couldn't tell the difference between the bottled and tap waters.
You can read more about the Choice bottled water test here (in .pdf format)

The same results are found whenever anyone does a taste test. Planet Green did a test in the street recently, giving people a taste of both bottled and tap water, and more people preferred the tap water, or couldn't tell the difference between them.

Is the taste of bottled water something you care about? Marketers of bottled water seem to think it should be. But a lot of people like to refill their purchased bottle with tap water, so they can reuse it - I reckon we don't care as much about taste as they hope we do.