I'm having a hard time to keep hydrated... and really, I think a good part of it is that straight water is really meh.

I know of ways to flavor water, but I find fruits to be a bother (you then have just soggy fruit at the end of your bottle, not always have access to some trashcan to throw them into) and most flavor powders are stupidly high in sugar.

So is there other good ways to flavor water that do not create a waste product and are not super high in sugars?

  • 6
    You can squeeze in some lemon juice. In fact, you can add a little bit of any juice, homemade or store-bought (the amount of sugar will be negligible). Also, cold-brew tea bags are great, but they require a trash bin, of course.
    – Paula
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:35
  • What are we calling "super high in sugars"? I make agua fresca (with much less sugar than is usually called for, perhaps tablespoons instead of cups, sometimes no sugar at all because the fruit is sweet enough) but because of the whole fruits blended into the water there is still some sugar in the drink.
    – senschen
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:46
  • @senschen dont remember seeing that in Quebec. Maybe its not widely available. But I'm talking about most powders available in supermarkets.
    – Fredy31
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:51
  • 1
    Its not something that I buy, its something that I make. For instance I use a variation of this recipe, but with a higher water ratio thriftandspice.com/banana-agua-fresca I was suggesting that it might be an option for you to try.
    – senschen
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:59
  • @senschen lol I just really missed that you were talking about a recipe and tought you were talking about a brand. I guess I need more coffee.
    – Fredy31
    Feb 23, 2021 at 16:05

5 Answers 5


Lemon juice

This one is fairly obvious and self-explanatory. Although the idea is mainly associated with highly sugarey lemonade, just a few drops of juice in a bottle of water and no extra sugar gives it a nice touch.


A matter of taste. Many will find this just gross, but it has of course a similar tartiness as lemon and less sugar.


This surprised me a lot when I first tasted it: you'd think cucumbers hardly taste of anything at all. But put a few fresh slices in a jug of water for half an hour, and they'll impart a subtle, but astonishingly interesting and really quite refreshing flavour.

  • 3
    what's more, if the water is icy cold, and you put kinda meh cucumbers (sliced) in, that you wouldn't use in a salad, when you are done the cucumber is refreshed and you are more likely to want to eat it. The comment about "soggy fruit" does not apply if the water is icy cold. Feb 23, 2021 at 17:04
  • 3
    On the vinegar note, I would recommend checking out Posca. It's essentially Roman gatorade, and surprisingly delicious. There are about an umptillion recipes of varying historical accuracy available; I'd recommend not bothering too much with that and finding one that tastes good to you
    – BThompson
    Feb 24, 2021 at 0:01
  • A splash of Key Lime juice is my favourite. Fresh if you have access to it, but "from concentrate" is fine. Feb 24, 2021 at 3:55
  • Cucumbers really surprised me the first time I had it ... but also, just having it cold helps to suppress questionable flavors.
    – Joe
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:39
  • 1
    @Colombo well, with pickled cucumbers the water will mainly take up vinegar and sugar! They do need to be fresh. Feb 24, 2021 at 22:54

There are a wide range of sugar-free products for flavoring water. Most of these are artificially sweetened.

They come in liquid form, where you can choose how many drops you add to your water and thereby control how strong the flavor is. Brand names include Mio and Sweet Drops; you can find many more by searching for "water flavoring drops." These products tend to be quite concentrated, so a small bottle of flavoring will do for many drinks of water. So even if you can't find them at a store near you, it's quite practical to order online and have them shipped.

They also come in powder form. Some powders are individually packaged, which is convenient to carry with you and use on the go, but allows you less control over the flavor concentration. They usually come in long, skinny packets that easily fit into the mouth of a water bottle, so you can pour in the powder without spilling it. Others come in bulk form, where you measure them out with a scoop or spoon. That lets you control the concentration, but it's not as portable and can be a bit messy. Brand names include Crystal Light and Gatorade Zero, and you can find many more by searching for "sugar free water flavoring powder."

Both types of product are, in my experience, widely available. As in, basically every gas station and convenience store has a few, and most grocery stores have a shelf with upwards of 30 flavors in several different brands.

You can also get sugar free flavored syrups, like the kind they use at fancy coffee shops. These tend to be quite sweet, and the flavor is not as concentrated as the products that are designed for flavoring water. The bottles are large and usually glass, so you would need to use them at home or put some in a smaller bottle if you want to use them on the go. Many grocery stores and liquor stores will sell some flavored syrups, and they usually have a few sugar-free options. If you want a specific flavor you may need to buy online.

If you want an unsweetened water flavor, use a flavor extract. There's a pretty standard selection of flavor extracts available in the baking aisle of any grocery store: vanilla, almond, lemon, orange, star anise, mint, coconut, and rum. Large grocery stores and specialty baking stores have an enormous range of flavors. Some flavors taste quite natural, while others taste artificial or weird. Extracts tend to have quite concentrated flavors, so a little goes a long way, but it may be challenging to get the right amount without adding too much. You may find it helpful to dilute your extract in a small bottle, and use the diluted extract for flavoring your drinking water. If you dilute the extract below 20% alcohol, it will no longer be shelf stable, so you'll need to treat it as perishable.

Note that most extracts are made with alcohol; adding a dash of extract to your water won't get you tipsy, but it might be a good idea to ask a close friend if your breath smells like alcohol after drinking your flavored water. At least in some distant future when you can A) can ask a friend to smell your breath for you; B) go out in public without a face mask; and C) get close enough to other people that they would actually notice if your breath smelled like booze.

  • Using baking flavors I would've never thought of, but its perfect (if you find some that also taste good outside of cakes, bit I reckon there'll be some). Since you probably need just a few drops (that stuff is intense usually), I wouldn't worry about the alcohol too much, there probably more in orange juice
    – Hobbamok
    Feb 24, 2021 at 9:39
  • I guess it will depend on where in the world you are. My local supermarket will have some but not much.
    – Willeke
    Mar 11, 2021 at 19:05

I have used fresh mint. Easy if you have mint growing in your garden or in a pot in your house.
You can also use the bunches of mint sold as cooking supplies.

You do not need much, the top bit of a stem with a few leaves will do.

At the end of your water you can re-use the mint for your next bottle of water.

And mint will happily combine with lemon juice or other flavors.

Other ways I have flavored water:

  • Fresh ginger, cut in small pieces as the cut side is giving the most flavor.
  • Hibiscus based teas, you can put the tea bags in cold water and let it steep overnight, take out the teabag before you go out. Or make a small strong tea (either hot or cold) and mix with cold water and/or icecubes to cool it down and thin it down to what you like. I never added sugar but people who do often use honey. These teas come in many different versions, plain, with fruit flavors and with added spices or herbs. Often the same brands have other usable teas, based on ginger, apple and more.
  • Capsules with vitamin C powder, you can break open the capsules and put it in your water. I was told (by a doctor) to add artificial sweetener to it, but I preferred a light mix without sweet additions.
  • Other herbs you can buy in the supermarket, be careful, just a little bit for the first try, as some will be strong. (Only use those you can eat uncooked, like in a salad.)

Added many months later:
I have now used a cinnamon stick, as suggested by @Willk in an other answer and it works for me. One stick will last a few days to a few weeks, although at the end it needs a longer soak and will still be rather weak.
Based on that I have tried cloves. Just two of them, taste was strong and not bad. But I found the small items come into my mouth which was less nice. So I should take them out before drinking. Again a few uses were possible, but with the cloves coming into my mouth I did not feel right to keep using them till all the taste was gone.


Cinnamon stick. Google cinnamon in water and you will see lots of people recommending this.

1: Cinnamon is good and not cloying.

2: Cinnamon stick can be reused. When you finish your water, put the cinnamon stick in your pocket or bag. Use it again.

3: Tired cinnamon stick can be reinvigorated with a little rub on the nutmeg grater.

4: Cinnamon stick is big enough that you wont accidentally eat it.

If you are not digging cinnamon other spices you could try are cloves or nutmeg, or a cardamom pod. Those are smaller than cinnamon stick but if you have a baggie to keep them in you can reuse them too. If you accidentally eat the spices, do not reuse them.

  • 2
    Haven't tried in in this way, but I'm rather doubtful about it. For one thing, from my experience cinnamon sticks are rather reluctant to give off much taste even in boiling water. And when reusing it over and over in cold water (with “pocket or bag” in between) I'd be a bit concerned about molds etc. getting a hold. Feb 24, 2021 at 9:31
  • I agree with @leftaroundabout, There won't be much flavor, I used to add a cinnamon stick to my freshly brewed tea and the flavor was not that intense, as it is when you add cinnamon powder.
    – Gigili
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:57
  • I have just put a cinnamon stick in my water bottle, and yes, even after a few minutes you can taste it. It is not 'Lemonade' strong. But it is there and for those who like subtle tastes it is a good option.
    – Willeke
    Feb 24, 2021 at 18:21

Try just refrigerating it, or putting ice in. Temperature affects flavor, and cold water is commonly perceived to taste better than room temperature water.

  • Interestingly, cold water tastes better because it's perceived to have less taste. This is why many terrible beers are advertised with an ice cold optimal serving temperature - when a drink is served very cold, you're less likely to notice any off-putting flavors. Feb 24, 2021 at 17:46

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