Every Bubly Burst Sparkling Water Flavor, Ranked

Pepsi has been selling its bubly line of flavored seltzer since 2018. The original bubly feels like a LaCroix sparkling water competitor — it's unsweetened, so the flavors are pretty mild (a lot of the fruitiness comes from the aroma). The company just released a new product, bubly burst, a different spin on the sparkling water beverage.

Bubly burst has more intense fruit flavors and is sweetened with low-calorie sweeteners. It also comes in an array of bright colors, highlighted by its skinny, clear plastic bottles. The drinks appears to be an attempt to compete with Sparkling Ice, a different brand of sweetened, fruity seltzer — even the shape of the bottle is similar.

I've already done a regular bubly sparkling water ranking, so it only seems natural to rank bubly burst, too. PepsiCo sent me all the flavors so I could try them and put them in order from worst to first. The rankings are primarily based on how much I enjoyed the taste of each variety, though other factors like mouthfeel and smell played their part as well.

Some recommendations are based on firsthand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.

6. Peach Mango

The peach mango bubly burst starts with a powerful hit of mango aroma when you crack open the lid. The smell suggests that mango will be the dominant flavor in this, despite peach juice concentrate being the second listed ingredient, and the taste bears this prediction out — you first get a lot of mango nectar-like tropical sweetness, then there's a bit of a peach ring gummy candy aftertaste.

All the bubly burst flavors have a small amount of real fruit juice, giving them more body than the typical flavored seltzer or zero-sugar soda. Peach Mango is probably the thickest; it coats your throat a bit and feels slightly less carbonated. I liked the initial taste of this drink well enough, but as I worked my way through the bottle, I started to notice a bit of an off-flavor. Despite mango and peach usually being best friends, they don't mesh together in this bubly — the more natural mango flavoring doesn't gel with the fake peach candy taste. Additionally, this is the variety where the mildly chemically bitter flavor of the acesulfame potassium and sucralose artificial sweeteners is most noticeable. The combination of diet sweetener aftertaste and questionable fruit flavoring makes this the bubly burst I'm least likely to drink again.

5. Watermelon Lime

If you thought the peach mango bubly burst gave candy vibes, just wait until you try the watermelon lime. It smells exactly like a watermelon Jolly Rancher, filling the whole room with that scent. Fortunately, the taste is slightly less potent and overwhelming than the odor. The watermelon flavor isn't any more real than the scent — it tastes like a much less gross version of watermelon Four Loko — but it's dialed back to a pleasant level. As with the peach mango, the fruit that's actually present (in this case, lime) is the secondary taste — it can't compete with the power of the natural watermelon flavoring. In fact, I couldn't really taste the lime at all; this drink is tangy, but the sourness reads more like generic citric acid than actual citrus fruit flavor.

This drink has a lighter texture and more carbonation than peach mango, which makes it more refreshing. It has a less artificial sweetener taste, and the fruit flavorings feel better blended. That earns it one spot higher on the ranking, but you should only buy this if you love fake watermelon. It's not one of my favorite drink flavors, so watermelon lime ranks pretty low for me.

4. Tropical Punch

This might be the most original bubly burst variety. When I hear the words tropical punch, I expect something bright red that tastes like all the red candy fruit flavorings mixed together — like Hawaiian Punch. Tropical punch bubly burst goes in a different direction. It doesn't say what fruits it's supposed to taste like on the label, but its light orange color tells you that this won't be another Hawaiian Punch clone.

The fruit juice in this, once again, is peach concentrate (peaches aren't a tropical fruit, but whatever). You can actually taste the flavor of real peach in this one, which is pretty nice. Other than that, I picked up mild hints of pineapple and orange. It's reminiscent of watered-down SunnyD with other fruit flavors blended in. All the different fruits mix well, and the flavorings are much less aggressively fake than in the two lower-ranking varieties. However, with so many different fruits in the formula, the distinct taste of each one gets lost. The overall flavor of the drink feels a bit weak and muted as a result. It's perfectly pleasant but not super memorable, which places it firmly in the middle of the pack.

3. Cherry Lemonade

While tropical punch was a bit of a shrinking violet, cherry lemonade isn't afraid to smack you over the head with flavor. Cracking the cap unleashes a wave of the dreaded cough syrup fake cherry smell, but fortunately, the taste is much less medicinal. It tastes like a pretty convincing facsimile of black cherry soda but with a more substantial mouthfeel. The lemon juice concentrate in the recipe doesn't make a huge impression; this drink is much more cherry than lemonade. The small amount of detectable lemon in this is more of a lemon peel/lemon oil aroma; it's similar to the lemon flavoring you'd find in a classic zero-calorie, unsweetened lemon bubly.

This is the sweetest-tasting, most soda-like bubly burst, and it does have a bit of a bitter sucralose aftertaste. However, the aftertaste isn't nearly as distracting as it was in the peach mango. I happen to love fake cherry flavoring, so this variety ranks in the top half for me, but it will be divisive — I can imagine some people being repelled by the intensity of the cherry.

2. Triple Berry

Like the cherry lemonade, the smell of triple berry is more intensely artificial-seeming than the flavor. This smells like grape soda. Honestly, I wasn't put off by this, as I enjoy grape soda, but the aroma proved deceiving. Flavor-wise, this delivers on its mixed-berry promise shockingly well. It has blueberry juice concentrate in it, which you can taste, but other berry flavorings come through stronger. It doesn't say on the label or on Pepsi's website what the other two berries are supposed to be, but based on the taste, I'd guess raspberry and blackberry. You get some of the pleasant bitterness of those fruits along with their floral aroma and sweetness, balancing the mild bitterness. For whatever reason, the artificial sweetener aftertaste is less detectable in triple berry than in some of the other bubly burst varieties.

I found the natural deliciousness of the berry flavoring in this drink quite impressive. The one defect holding this back from the top spot is that it could use more acidity to balance out all the sucralose. A little extra citric acid would make triple berry feel more refreshing.

1. Pineapple Tangerine

This is the least fake-tasting of all the bubly bursts. Pineapple tangerine smells almost exactly like canned pineapple juice, with a faint back note of creamsicle. Though it contains peach juice, there's no detectable peach flavor at all. Instead, it tastes like a pineapple agua fresca made with real fruit, just like you'd get from a taqueria, but with the added benefit of carbonation. The pineapple flavoring, citric acid, and malic acid combine to give you the puckery sourness you expect from pineapple, and that acidity is blended with the exact right amount of sweetness. The tangerine takes a back seat here; you can pick up a bit of a SunnyD/Tang taste underneath the pineapple, but it's subtle.

Pineapple tangerine bubly burst delivers everything I want from this category of beverages. It's sweet enough to combat soda cravings while feeling lighter and more refreshing than soda. The fruit tastes real, and the weird flavor of the low-calorie sweeteners is effectively hidden. It's a perfect summer beverage.


I received the bottles of bubly burst for this review free of charge from PepsiCo. Nevertheless, my opinions reflect my independent judgment and were not influenced by the product's manufacturer.

I tasted each flavor chilled, straight from the bottle, after first smelling it to capture the aroma. For products in this category, I'm looking for something that splits the difference between soda and regular seltzer in terms of sweetness — my mental reference is Sparkling Ice. The fruit flavor should be prominent (and ideally not too fake), and there should be just enough carbonation to leave me feeling refreshed — I don't need this kind of seltzer to be intensely bubbly.

Bubly burst seemed very comparable to Sparkling Ice in terms of quality; both brands have flavors I love and others I'm not crazy about. Bubly burst feels slightly less carbonated, but it still has enough bubbles to satisfy me. I evaluated the texture, mouthfeel, carbonation, overall taste, fidelity to the fruits listed on the label, and refreshment quality of each bubly burst to arrive at this ranking.