Stevia is a popular natural sweetener that is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It's the most popular natural sweetener on the market for beverages because it has such great qualities. It is a great alternative to traditional sweeteners such as sugar and artificial sweeteners, as it is much sweeter than sugar, has no calories, and does not raise blood sugar levels. But it has one huge issue... aftertaste. The flavor profile of Reb A Stevia differs from sugar with a delayed onset of sweetness, higher intensity and lingering aftertaste. However, not all stevia products are created equal. Stevia has been hugely popular over the last 10 years and advancements in refinement have led to significant improvements in reducing the dreaded aftertaste. Almost all Stevia sweetened products on the market use Reb A. Purity levels have improved which has reduced aftertaste bitterness. However, from a scale of 1-10 and 10 being yucky aftertaste from a decade ago, these improvements might be at a 7. It's still a very noticeable aftertaste. We were ready to rule out Stevia because of our aversion to the aftertaste.

Then we started to learn about recent advancements with extracting minor stevia minor glycosides such as rebaudioside M (Reb M). They occur in much smaller amounts than Reb A.

Reb A is the most commonly used form of stevia. It is made by extracting the sweetness from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant and is considered to be the most stable and consistent form of stevia.

Reb M, on the other hand, is a more recently discovered form of stevia. Reb M has a more rounded and balanced sweetness profile compared to Reb A, which can make it a better choice for certain types of food and beverage products. There are many minor glycosides extracted from Stevia but reb M and potentially Reb D are the most natural tasting with minimal aftertaste.

Reb A vs Reb M - Sweet and Bitter Taste Chart

In terms of taste, Reb A is known to have a bit of a bitter aftertaste, while Reb M has a cleaner and more natural taste. The flavor profile still differs slightly from sugar and has a delayed onset similar to Reb A but most importantly, the aftertaste is negligible. When blended with other sweeteners like allulose, there is a synergy effect that pretty much eliminates the aftertaste and the sweetness profile is "pulled" forward to better match natural sugar. An interesting study in Foods journal, 2014 comparing Stevia Reb A and Reb B shows a significant reduction in the bitterness lingering and bitterness with Reb M compared to Reb A.

Sensory Attributes of Stevia Reb M vs Reb A in Soda Water

Sensory Attributes of Stevia Reb M vs Reb A in Soda Water

Another important difference between Reb A and Reb M is their cost. Because Reb M is a more recently discovered form of stevia and found in much smaller quantities when extracted, it is more expensive to produce.

One of our challenges when developing AlluSoda is overcoming mental barriers of perceived sweeteners. Stevia has been a great alternative and allowed millions of people to enjoy sweetened foods without added sugar. However, there is a strong stigma it carries about the aftertaste. People like us are so sensitive to it, even a tiny amount of Stevia has that annoying and lingering yucky aftertaste. But with recent advancements with variants of Stevia such as Reb M, it may be worth re-evaluating Stevia.