Artificial sweeteners are one of those eternally controversial topics in the food world. Some people swear by them, some people condemn them and new studies are constantly being released about their effects. On top of all the debate, new sugar substitutes seem to be coming out every year. Not the biggest fans of substitutes in general here at HuffPost Taste -- we opt for butter over margarine and real or no meat over the fake stuff -- we usually choose natural sugar over artificial sweetener. That said, we're certainly not strangers to sugar substitutes, and are always curious about the potential merits, faults and most importantly, taste of artificial sweeteners.
Your brain may know the difference between artificial sweeteners and sugar -- but do your taste buds? And which sweetener do they prefer? Some people may choose sweeteners based on the calorie content. While a zero-calorie sweetener might appeal to certain people, others will stay far away. If only taste and not calories were a factor, however, which sweetener would these people choose? We rounded up our most discerning HuffPost editors and put their taste buds to the test.
We tested 10 sweeteners, including real sugar and sugar in the raw, by adding the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar into eight ounces of black tea. We steeped one pot of tea and divided it into 10 cups, so that every sweetener was working its magic in the same exact substance. We then asked our editors to rate the taste on a scale of 1 to 10. We tested only powdered sugars, so we left out liquid varieties like agave or honey.
We also asked the editors to share which sweetener, if any, they typically use in their beverages. None of the reviewers use artificial sweeteners to sweeten their drinks -- they typically prefer sugar, honey or unsweetened beverages.
It turns out, according to our reviewers, real sugar tastes better than any artificial sweetener. It also appears that people hate erythritol, the key ingredient in the two least favorite sweeteners. Finally, we learned that Sweet 'N Low has cream of tartar in it. We'll leave you with that puzzling fun fact.
Here's how artificial sweeteners and real sugar stacked up, according to our blind taste test.
As always, this taste test is in no way influenced or sponsored by the brands included.
Made with: erythritol "This makes tea taste like chemicals. Never again." "It's like licking a battery." "Bahhhh."
Made with: erythritol, stevia leaf extract, natural flavors "Very strong vanilla overtones. Not crazy about it." "I just licked tin foil?" "This is an ok sweetener. Pretty bland, nothing spectacular." "Gross!"
Made with: SweetLeaf Stevia extract and Inulin soluble fiber "Just a hint of artificial, could totally substitute this in a drink." "Whoa. Tastes like 1988. Overkill." "Powerful in all the wrong ways." "This is gross, absurdly sweet and also very bitter." "Nope."
Made with: dextrose, maltodextrin, sucralose "I can taste the paper of whatever packet this came in." "Doesn't taste overly artificial, but definitely doesn't taste like sugar." "Super bland but something is off." "This tastes fake but not aggressively so." "CARD BOARD." "Nope."
Sweet 'N Low
Made with: dextrose, saccharin, cream of tartar, calcium silicate "Blech. So sweet, tastes too powerful." "Super strong but doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth." "So sweet that I know it can't be real, but not terribly metallic." "Fake, sickly sweet, bitter. Not good." "Not bad, kind of natural." "OMG my teeth! Get me a dentist!"
Stevia In The Raw (Tied With Equal)
Made with: dextrose, stevia leaf extract "Tastes like sugar, then a blast of aspartame :(." "This is nice but has a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Would sweeten again." "This has a stale, clearly artificial sugar/sweetener taste.""Immediate artificial aftertaste. Not bad, just fake."
Made with: Dextrose with maltodextrin, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium "Mediocre sweetness." "Gah! This is very sweet!" "Has a slightly honey taste." "Powerfully sweet, obviously artificial after about three seconds on the tongue." "This is ok, pretty bland, nothing spectacular." "Gross!"
Made with: dextrose, stevia extract, cellulose powder, natural flavors "Hey, for artificial, it ain't bad." "Tastes just like regular sugar." "Bland, bland, bland." "Very faint taste." "Not into it. Tastes blatantly fake." "This could be real? But it's not delicious so it's probably not.
Sugar In The Raw
Made with: Turbinado sugar "This doesn't make me react in a negative way. This is real and delicious." "Pretteh, pretteh good. Not too sweet." "Not very powerful, but not artificial tasting." "Really smooth, not too sweet." "This is delicious, not too sweet but perfectly sugary." "Brown sugar?"
Granulated Sugar (WINNER)
Made with: sugar! "Not sweet." "Can't even taste the sugar." "Not overpoweringly sweet or artificial tasting, but leaves a chalky taste on your tongue." "Sugar, is that you? Whatever you are, you're pleasing." "That's the stuff. 100 % happiness."
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