Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, and Darin Olien recently sat down for an incredible water tasting experience with water sommelier Martin Riese on Netflix's new series Down to Earth. Learn more about the waters they were sipping in LA.
The 7-minute long water tasting session in episode 2 of Down to Earth with Zac Efron has brought massive attention to the importance of the water we choose to drink. Martin Riese - America's earliest certified water sommelier - ran through a series of premium natural bottled waters with the celebrities from his celebrated water menu at the Petit Ermitage hotel. Not only were they convinced that water truly does have taste, but when Martin explained the difference between bottled waters from nature versus processed tap water, Anna said he "just literally blew my mind".
Martin Riese likes to say that "water is not just water". "It is for me fascinating that we all have to drink it, we drink it on a daily basis, but nobody actually talks about it. It's kind of crazy." So what waters did they try? Six in total, three still and three sparkling. They had varying mineral levels, as measured by their TDS level. TDS means "total dissolved solids" and refers to the amount of minerals in the water, measured in milligrams per litre (mg/l). No processed tapwaters were served, only all-natural from mother nature.
All the waters shown on Down to Earth
- Three Bays / Aqui-Live (Australia) [Quick note: They were Aqui-Live on the show but have now rebranded as Three Bays due to a trademark troll taking their brand name and logo in a separate country. We've long been fans and wish them fantastic success under their new moniker.]: Martin calls this "the olive oil of waters" and a "thick water". Anna Kendrick's reaction was "it annoys me that this is so good" while it led Zac Efron to say "water has a flavour for sure". With a very high mineral content, especially for a still water, it takes on a surprising creamy mouthfeel and taste. We have been lucky enough to try it and found it has an almost dairy taste and feel. That may sound strange for a water, but you'll be fascinated if you get a chance to try it. TDS: 1300 mg/l
- Hildon (UK): The sparkling version of one of Britain's most well-known brands. With a medium mineral level and a unique carbonation style. Martin describes it saying "the bubbles are awesome, they're like super tiny, almost like champagne bubbles." TDS: 312 mg/l
- Vichy Catalan (Spain): The most consumed sparkling water in Spain with big bubbles and an incredibly high mineral level, almost triple that of Aqui-Live. It comes out of the ground at 60°C (140°F). With its very high sodium content, some people feel it tastes like salt water and it can certainly be an acquired taste. Darin Olien (the health and wellness expert traveling the world with Zac for the show) reacted strongly saying "that's Alka-Seltzer in a bottle". Martin responded by educating them on the benefits of the minerals, saying it is considered a healing water in Germany. While Anna remarked "I can like feel it sticking to the roof of my mouth." TDS: 3050 mg/l
- ROI (Slovenia): Next Martin proudly emerged with "a water nobody else can access in America" and one of the 10 most expensive regularly available waters in the world. Prompting Zac to say "that's my favorite" before even trying. Once they tried it, Darin had one of the best lines of the show, saying "it tastes like there's a coin in there". Which Martin tells him is because ROI has the highest magnesium content of any water found on the planet. Making it essentially a functional water, but from nature. The total mineral level is so high he says you can sometimes see the minerals as little floating residues. TDS: 7400 mg/l
- Fiji (South Pacific): This tasting session didn't make the director's cut, but it was among the first somewhat premium waters in the US market. While it has now become extremely common to the point that Martin says people ask if it really comes from Fiji, it is a genuinely natural artesian water. It has a medium mineral level, but it is particularly high in silica, giving it a noticeably smooth feel in the mouth. TDS: 222 mg/l
- Svalbarði (Norway): Saving the best for last we come to our own Svalbarði Polar Iceberg Water. Cutting 6 hours of filming down to 7 minutes meant unfortunately the tasting wasn't shown, but you will see both the bottle and gift tube visible throughout the segment. We spoke with Martin who told us that the celebrities did indeed enjoy it greatly. When tasted alongside such high mineral waters as many of the others on the list, Svalbarði always stands out as the lightest and freshest. Check out the water page to learn more about this amazing source, taste, and packaging. TDS: 21 mg/l
A virtual presentation of the waters on Down to Earth
Don't have Netflix or want to take a deeper dive into the waters on the show? Martin and Fine Water Society founder Michael Mascha break it down in this post-show video discussing all the waters featured on Down to Earth, including much more about Svalbarði.
Martin and Michael are also the minds behind the Fine Water Academy, where water enthusiasts can become certified water sommeliers through a series of in-depth online courses and projects.
Learn about what you drink every day
To learn more about enjoying and appreciating natural waters (and how to avoid artificially processed waters), go to finewaters.com or check out Martin Riese's youtube channel for in-depth water brand presentations. If you are a busy person, make sure to download a few episodes of Riese's own podcast "A water with..." to listen and learn on the go.
The original tasting session is available within the first 11 minutes of Netflix's Down to Earth, season 1, episode 2: France. The travel documentary features actor Zac Efron and health expert Darin Olien on their mission to explore healthy and sustainable ways of living.