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VINE VOICEon July 15, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
PROS:
Very nearly like sugar
Works great in cold beverages
Okay for hot beverages (see cons below)
No 'cooling effect'
Worked reasonably in a baking application
No synthesized, chemical ingredients

CONS:
Contains trace amounts of sugar and molasses
"Natural" but not necessarily non-GMO
Not exactly zero calories (greater than two servings likely greater than 5 calories)
Very slightly bitter aftertaste in hot beverages
Slight honey-like overtones added to the sweetness
The 'natural' moniker is relative: it contains some refined sugar and is not necessarily from non-GMO sources

NOTE: Please realize that when reviewing any food item, including sweeteners, I can only give my opinion. Everyone's taste buds are different and everyone's perception of what tastes good in a sweetener is different. I have done my best to describe this product, but in the end you will have to taste it yourself and see what you think.

FULL REVIEW:
Nectresse is the latest no calorie sweetener from McNeil Nutritionals. It is an admixture of Erythritol, sucrose, monk fruit (luo han guo) extract, and molasses. The combination adds another low calorie sweetener to the mix and generally successful, depending on the application.

WHAT'S IN THE PACKAGE:
Nectresse is supplied in small nearly 1/2 teaspoon, 2.4 g packets (for comparison there are 4.2 g of sugar per teaspoon). That said, 1/2 teaspoon of Nectress supplies the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar. The packets are thicker foil packets, not the paper packets such as sugar an other sweetners are often packaged in. This is likely due to the need to protect the Nectress from moisture in the environment, as it is likely more hygroscopic (moisture absorbing) than other sweeteners. The Nectress itself is slightly yellow in color but it has the same texture as sucrose, mimicking a very light, blonde sugar. It mixes easily in hot or cold beverages and handles very similarly to sugar for these kinds of applications.

RAW TASTE:
When tasted directly out of the packet, the Nectresse is almost as cleanly sweet as table sugar, but it has some slightly honey overtones. Overall, this is a very pleasant sweetness. There is no bitter after taste when tasted cold: if you try the directly out of the package taste test with most Stevia brands, the result is a shocking bitter after taste. Plain erythritol has a cleaner, sucrose sweetness but is plagued with a very pronounced and to some disturbing cool after sensation (kind of like you get with mint or menthol, without the mint or menthol taste).

On the upside, the sweetness factor is really quite good, depending on the application the taste is nearly as good as sugar. When sweetening cold beverages (ice tea, lemonade) the Nectresse really shined. The sweetness level was robust and it was hard to distinguish from sugar. The honey-like overtones may not jibe with every application, but these were at least pleasant overtones as compared to other non-sugar sweeteners.

Sadly, when used in hot beverages, such as coffee, there is a slightly perceptible, bitter aftertaste. This is similar to the aftertaste you might get from Stevia, but not nearly as pronounced. Unlike Stevia, the taste is simply bitter--there are no licorice after tones. The more sweetener used, the more the bitterness. If you like your coffee lightly sweet, you may not notice it. If you like your coffee on the more intensely sweeter side, it is noticeable. That said, the bitter taste is less pronounced in hot tea, possibly secondary to the acidity.

Please note, that the bulk of the sweetness here is likely from the monk fruit extract. Monk fruit is about 150 times as sweet as sugar, so you would only need very tiny amounts of monk fruit extract for sweetness. The erythritol, sugar, and molasses are added to add bulk, texture, and consistency to the product, so that it more closely resembles and behaves like table sugar. They may also compliment or balance the taste of the product, but can't account for the level of sweetness.

(There is only 1/2 teaspoon of product per package: erythritol is only 70% as sweet as sugar--it would take more than 2 1/2 teaspoons of erythritol to equal the sweetness of 2 teaspoons of sugar. And quite obviously, even 1/2 teaspoon of sucrose couldn't get you the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of itself. Molasses is not as sweet as sugar and has a distinctive taste, so there's not enough molasses in the mix to account for the sweetness. )

BAKING:
On the FAQ section on Nectresse's website, it was mentioned that you could bake with Nectresse. Ever interested in experimentation, I decided to give it a try. I used a simple sugar cookie recipe and baked three kinds of cookies sweetened with: 1) sugar; 2) Nectresse; and 3) pure erythritol. I commandeered my 9 and 12 year-old kids for the bake off.

Please note: I do realize that different sweeteners have different properties. To keep things easy, however, I simply replaced the sugar in the recipe with either Nectresse or erythritol. I do realize that the different products have different sweetness levels and different chemical properties and are not so easily interchangeable, so you should take the results of the little experiment with a grain of salt (real salt). Even so the results were enlightening.

After a family taste test, the results were as follows (drum roll please): Sugar came in first, followed by Nectresse, followed by erythritol.

1) Sugar had the best consistency and the best sugar cookie taste. Cosmetically, the sugar cookies also spread more evenly and looked better than the other cookies.
2) Nectresse had excellent sweetness in this application. You might have expected cookies that were far too sweet, given that volume for volume Nectresse should be about 4 times as sweet as sugar. Even so, the sweetness after baking was comparable and quite good. In the cookie, at least, there was no evidence of the bitter after taste and in spite of the Nectresse containing some erythritol filler, there was no 'cooling effect' on the tongue. The cookies failed on the level of texture. The weren't as crisp as the real sugar cookies. Still, you could imagine if the company can mix the Nectresse with the right kind of fillers for baking, it might be able to perform really well.
3) Erythritol cookies were more like the pure sugar cookies in texture, but, on a taste, they failed on a couple of levels. The sweetness was pristine, but due to the fact that erythritol is only about 70% as sweet as sugar, the erythritol cookies didn't quite reach the level of sweetness needed in a sugar cookie. I am still glad that I didn't weight out 1/3 more of the erythritol to get the comparable amount of sweetening, however, because the 'cooling effect' was out of control. (Erythritol has a peculiar cooling effect on the mouth--kind of like the cooling effect you get by eating mint or menthol, but without the mint or menthol flavor.) Even at the lower level of sweetness, the cookies had an unacceptable level of cooling that was a bit of a turn off for the family. (Had they been mint flavored sugar cookies this might have been okay, but with the plain flavor, the kids and I felt the cooling effect was overwhelming.)

WHAT IS IN NECTRESSE:
The most touted ingredient of the combination is monk fruit. Monk fruit is really not new to the sweetener scene. In the past, the sweetener was mostly marketed as luo han guo and has been used in the far east, mostly to sweeten cold beverages and often in combination with other sweeteners (natural and artificial). The raw fruit extract is usually refined, allowing the removal of interfering flavors. It has been marketed in the past as a sugar substitute, the most well known brand of which is Lakanto (Lakanto, All Natural Sweetener, 800 grams). I have always been interested in tasting Lakanto, but the price tag is prohibitive.

Although monk fruit is the main ingredient, Nectresse also has other ingredients. Erythritol, sugar (sucrose), and molasses are added to balance out the flavor, texture, and consistency.

IS IT NATURAL?
McNeil is marketing Nectresse as a natural sweetener, in contrast to Splenda (sucralose), McNeil's flagship artificial sweetener. Nectresse may be natural, but there may be a few caveats here. The fact that McNeil Nutritionals is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, a big pharma company not known for a 'crunchy granola' outlook might give one some pause.

On the downside, there is no indication that the sweetener is derived from non-GMO sources. The major ingredient, Erythritol, is often refined from corn. Sugar and molasses are well known, but are also the products that this sweetener was designed to replace (and that most users want to avoid). In all fairness, the fact that Nectresse has nearly 0 calories per serving tells you that sugar and molasses content is very low and that they were probably added to subtly balance the taste and/or add consistency to the product. This is not all that different from adding dextrose (glucose) and maltodextran to Splenda brand products. There is less than a gram of these products in Splenda. These products are added to Splenda as a filler for the sucralose and to balance taste and consistency.

That said, Nectresse is not exactly a 'zero' calorie option, but a very minimal calorie option. The FDA allows for products to advertise as 'zero' calories if they have less than 5 calories per serving. My guess is that after you get beyond two packets, you exceed the 5 calories per serving. Still not too bad, as the sweetness of two packets of Nectresse is the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Although Nectresse may be derived from natural sources, all the natural source may be refined to a point that is not acceptable to all customers.

COMPARED TO OTHER LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS:
I think that Nectresse compares fairly with other low calorie sweeteners. Obviously, the choice of sweeteners that you use is mostly dependent on your personal taste.

I can only speak for my own taste buds, but Nectresse scores very high for me. It is very nearly up there with xylitol and erythritol, in terms of a pure sucrose taste. When it comes to tasting like sucrose, I'd have to give xylitol a bit of an edge here, but xylitol fails at higher amounts of intake due to GI side effects (e.g. diarrhea). Erythritol is also more purely sweet than Nectresse and generally does not come with GI side effects, but is dogged by that overwhelming cooling effect that can occur at sweetening concentrations. Still, I'd rather use xylitol or erythritol in my hot coffee than Nectresse, as Nectresse has that bitter taste with hot coffee. In cold beverages, however, Nectresse wins hands down. There are a lot of stevia fans out there and I wish them well, but even brands with lesser bitter aftertastes still have a bitter edge that kills it for me and the sweetness of stevia seems to range from a cotton candy like taste to licorice overtones; sweet but not sugar-like. Sadly, stevia just doesn't do it for me.

Compared to the artificial sweeteners, the best of the crowd for sweetening my morning coffee would be Equal. I think that Nectresse compares favorably to this and I would use Nectresse rather than Equal if I had the choice. (Equal, for me, has a fairly good sweetness, but it is not quite comparable to sugar.) Nectresse beats Splenda (sucralose) hands down, for me, as I prefer the very slight bitterness to that wacky, artificial aftertaste that I get with Splenda. Ditto for saccharine, which just doesn't do it for me. Saccharine never tasted quite like sugar to me and has a bitter aftertaste that overwhelms.

CONCLUSION:
All in all, Nectresse is a more than respectable alternative, low calorie sweetener. For my palate, it is comparable to most other natural sugar substitutes for taste and beats the artificial sweeteners hands down. Sadly, though,none of the alternatives tastes or handles perfectly like table sugar. But after trying Nectresse out, it is definitely something that I will use in the future.
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VINE VOICEon October 8, 2012
Size: Canister - 140 Serving|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While everyone can have their opinion, the scientific justification and logic in some of the arguments are without reason or merit.

It is not monkfruit, it's a sweetening product which has monkfruit. Comparing it to stevia the herb is not plausable. Apples to apples.

150 times sweeter than sugar is not the same as 150% sweeter than sugar. 150% is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar. While this is a common mistake, like your vs you're, this should not be a mistake when doing an analysis or making an argument.

The total calories is unknown and not calculable. The listed 1 gm and <1grm when it's itemized means it is non-zero. In fact 1 gram of sugars from Erythritol is 0.2 kcals so if there is 0.1 grams, that's it's only 2 one hundredths of a single calorie (2/100th). Calories is non-zero and less than 5 but any other attempt at calculating the calories without knowing the exact contribution between 0 < x < 1gm of each ingredient is guessing.

Comparing a teaspoon of this to a teaspoon of sugar as an argument that it has significant calories makes no sense. A serving of this is 1/4 of a teaspoon. What's the point of using super sweet items if you do arguments based on volume.

The added ingredients are there for volume and texture. For the mass market, an eye dropper and instructions to attempt to get out 1 / 150th of a drop in my grandma's tea isn't a viable product model. Even getting out 1/4 of a teaspoon is rather hard. Ingredients are listed by weight, by law, they aren't listing it by the % sweetness the amount adds to the total product. You are paying for a certain amount of 'sweetness', a.k.a. a 'serving'. Would there be less issues if there were no fillers and you get 120 servings of sweetener but it comes in the size of a single sugar packet? Get out the micro scale and the razor blades.

Is it natural? Let's look:

1. Erythrytol - created from fermented sugar. Is Vodka and whiskey natural?

2. Sugar - even if it's GM (genetically modified) beet sugar, it's the 'granulated white stuff' 95% of American's call table sugar. Most foods at the typical grocery store are GM. Even the farmer's market. Who do you think they buy their seeds from? Monsanto.

3. Monk fruit - Seems like there are no arguments on this being 'natural'.

4. Molasses - By-product of making table sugar, that white stuff people see on the tables and make cookies with.

Calories will add up and increase your blood sugar? Only if you consume a lot...all at once. Last I knew, people didn't sit down and eat 140 sugar packets at once. Even then, you are looking at less of an impact on your blood sugar than 1/4th of a candy bar. Half of those few calories is from Erythrytol, which according to Wikipedia does not have any affect on the blood sugar level.

Pure Erythrytol is close to the same cost per '1 serving of sugar like sweetness' as this. You just need a lot more of it.

It's a lot of nit-picking and there's a lot more I could go over but people seem vocal over trivial things. Does it really matter if something has 1 calorie when the whole point is that people are consuming way too much sugar and fat in their diet. Why focus on getting 'no-fat' if the purpose is to cut calories and get to a reasonable diet. We as a country are too obsessed on going from extreme to extreme. I see people 300 pounds over-weight screaming at the barista about getting the non-fat milk over the 2% or the diet-coke to their 3 platter Long John Silver's meal.

Lastly as a sweetening product, I like it. It's has a slight fruity taste. Cooking I have no idea but I like it in my morning coffee and tea. I use to use 1/2 spenda packet 1/2 sugar packet but I've replaced it with a pinch of this. I'm going to try it in my rib marinade and see how it works.

I suggest anyone thinking about it, you can get free samples from the company, try it. You won't die from it, look at a single slice of white bread and compare it.
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VINE VOICEon July 5, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"Hello, my name is David, and I'm a sugar addict." "Hello, David." True, I love my sweets, but my sweets do not love me. Hence, I tend to rely on sugar substitues (perhaps a little too much) to stave off those sugar cravings. My go-to has always been stevia, in one form or another, whether liquid extract, powder, crystalized (Truvia), or organic ground, as I think stevia is an excellent sweetener. But, always willing to try something new, I was happy to indulge in Nectresse, a new natural sweetner from the makers of Splenda.

The primary source of sweetener in Nectresse is monk fruit (aka luo han guo), which I have eaten as an additive in other foods, and have always found to be tasty. This was my first opportunity trying it as an actual sugar substitute, so I tried to utilize it in several different applications.

First, on its own, Nectresse is great. I initially thought there was a slightly off aftertaste, but I realized it was hints of the monk fruit itself, and the flavor everntually grew on me. I then sprinkled Nectresse on various kinds of fruits, from watermelon and peaches to strawberries and cantaloupe, and it fared well on all of them, adding just the right touch of sweetness without overpowering the natural flavors of the fruits.

I also added Nectresse to cold almond milk, as well as hot tea, and was very pleasantly surprised to see how well the granuals disolved in liquid, which tends to be problematic with stevia (mostly so with Truvia). And not a lot of Nectresse was necessary to sweeten the drinks (maybe half a packet), so a little goes a long way.

I did not have the opportunity to bake with Nectresse, so I cannot comment on how well it does in baked goods, but based on my initial observations, I think it's likely to perform well.

Now, I would exercise some caution here, as there is sugar in Nectresse -- though, less than 1g (which, in a 2.4g serving, could still be significant). The other ingredients are Erythritol and Molasses. So, if you are on a complete no sugar diet, you'd likely have to skip this sweetener. Still, there are 0 calories overall, with the Erythritol providing 2g of carbohydrates.

Overall, I think Nectresse is a far better option than Splenda and Aspartame (especially considering their sketchy health and safety issues), but in my opinion, not quite as good as stevia. But, taste is highly subjective, so I think opinions are likely to be quite divided here. I will definitely continue to use Nectresse, as it's a great form of monk fruit extract, but it won't be the first product I reach for when attempting to quell my sweet tooth.
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VINE VOICEon July 7, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I used 2 of these packets in tea and got rid of the rest. I found the taste to be unpleasant - didn't seem sweet, more tart and fruity than sweet. And, I sensed a metallic like aftertaste. I thought it was terrible. But, I recognize that everyone's taste is different. You may like this just fine and you may have an entirely different application for it than mine. I also don't like Splenda, so you may like this product better if you're a Splenda fan. I just wouldn't buy a truckload of it before you sample it.
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on September 7, 2012
I like this product, but you have to look at the ingredient list to see what you are really getting. Despite monk fruit being prominently displayed on the front, it's actually the 3rd ingredient, behind sugar. Now, monk fruit is sweet for it's weight, so it may be contributing a reasonable amount of the sweetness that the product has. But the first ingredient is erythritol. Amazon sells pure erythritol, and it is cheaper on a per ounces basis (though erythritol is not as sweet as sugar or monk fruit, but the flavor is fine). Also the pure erythritol, obviously, contains no sugar, unlike Nectresse. So, I like Nectresse, but I like pure erythritol even better.
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on August 20, 2012
Believe me when i say i HATE sweeteners that taste like sweeteners.
No Splenda
No Sweet and lo
No equal
UGHHHH

I took my chances and bought this,
put it in my green tea and i kid you not when I say there is NO AFTER TASTE and if you have tried sweeteners you know exactly what im talking about. It ALMOST tastes like sugar. Nectresse wasn't the 1st sweetener to use monk fruit its called lo han, just the first to be widely sold.

But never the less Great taste
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on August 11, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm pleased to see another one of the big companies jumping into the natural sweetener ring with this offering. Meant, I'm certain, as direct competition for Truvia, this is a really nice product. Monk fruit is the primary sweetening force in these little packets as opposed to stevia in Truvia. Monk fruit (also known as luo han guo in China where it originates) and stevia have a lot of molecular properties in common. They are kissing cousins in the natural sweetener world, with monk fruit offering a slightly more positively robust flavor profile with tasters offering descriptors like: honey, fruity, molasses, brown sugar.

The best products containing stevia, by comparison, have a stronger more streamlined flavor that just screams: sweet! for the most part, yet there is high variability between stevia strains which you will quickly learn if you start tasting all the various products in the marketplace. The cleanest stevia flavor is to be found in a single ingredient, pure stevia product made by KAL. Others tend to have some off flavors like licorice or bitter notes and lingering unpleasant aftertastes. Yet, for me, it's been a long time since I've partaken in any of those, having found the KAL product years ago, I began mixing my own blend with Erythritol, Xylitol, KAL's stevia and pure glucose to round out the flavor profile. I occasionally use truvia or splenda when away from home.

Extracts like stevia and monk fruit offer some interesting problems for the manufacturers. The sweetness factor is incredibly high--miniscule amounts approximate a couple of teaspoons of sugar--something like 1/128 of a teaspoon or the like. How do they deliver that in a packet? Well, they have to mix it up with something else that adds bulk, of course. A sugar alcohol is the obvious choice because it tastes so much like sugar yet delivers very few to zero practical calories. The manufacturers lean toward erythritol because it results in zero net calories in such small amounts. They might be better served by combining it with xylitol and/or something else like pure glucose or fructose because anyone with sensitive, um, digestive functions are going to find that using a lot of this product is going to send them running for the bathroom--though they probably won't make the connection. The sugar alcohols (as those who have partaken of diabetic candies quickly learn) can wreak havoc with the gut.

That said, this product contains 2 grams of erythritol per packet, while Truvia contains 3 grams per packet. That's a significant difference if you are a heavy coffee drinker. And, in addition, Nectresse is a far superior product taste-wise.

Artificial sweeteners tend to hit one 'note' of sweetness and clang that single note with gusto which tends to fall flat. The problem is real sugar is a clamor of notes--thousands of little sweet notes of varying degrees and ranges that culminate in one mental rapport--satisfying sweetness. Monk fruit naturally hits more of those notes and the additional ingredients the manufacturer has added tinkle a few more in the background which is why this is really a superior product. I have always found that a more satisfying approach is to combine many sweeteners in smaller amounts, trying to hit as many notes as possible. I can't go back to sugar--my body just doesn't process it properly and I'm working hard to avoid the genetic tendency toward diabetes that runs in my family by eating a low glycemic index diet.

So, all that said, I was truly impressed with this product and its clean, simple, sweet flavor. If I could only use one commercial product, this one would be it.
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on July 7, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I drink a lot of herbal iced teas (which I brew myself). I used to use sugar to sweeten my tea, but I later switched to liquid stevia. It really took me a long time to find my stevia too, because I tried out a lot of other sugar alternatives (such as Splenda and Sweet-n-Low) and I couldn't stand the taste of any of them. The first stevia I ever tried had a nasty taste to it, but I've heard that liquid stevia taste can differ depending on the brand, so I kept looking. I really like my current brand of liquid stevia (Nunaturals) because it's the only stevia I've ever been able to find that doesn't have a nasty taste. I'm always eager to try out a new sugar replacement product, though, since my stevia is pretty pricey.

So, I eagerly tried out the new Nectresse stuff since I'd read so many nice descriptions of how lovely and natural and tasty it is. Well, each person's taste buds are different, but the Nectresse just doesn't taste good to me. I tried it in some grits, and in several cups of tea. It's got a weird unpleasant flavor to it (sort of similar to the weird chemical taste of Sweet N' Low). Of course, due to differing tastes, your mileage may vary. Another weird problem I have with the Nectresse is that according to the box, it says that "a packet of nectresse equals two teaspoons of sugar" which seems to imply that the nectresse is sweeter than regular sugar. Strangely though, I found that it was the opposite. I felt that the nectresse was NOT as sweet and I had to add more packets of it. That's rather unfortunate. I will say one thing in it's favor, though; I does melt in water like it says it does.

Well, I can't say that I enjoyed this product or would want to buy more of it, just due to taste alone. I also can't really speak on it's price since I got it through Vine and it's not available yet (as of this writing) on Amazon to do price comparisons. So, I certainly wouldn't recommend it based on my own experience, but since everyone's different, if you are searching for a non-sugar sweetener, you might want to buy a small package of Nectresse to try out for yourself. Who knows, you might like it better than I did.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 9, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It's probably just me... about six months ago, I stopped using no-calorie sweeteners at all, and I've been using mostly honey and agave syrup since then. Maybe I'm not used to other sweeteners anymore. My first impression of this was that it had a terrible flavor, and it wasn't very sweet at all.

I tried it first in a cup of tea--instead of my usual scant teaspoon of honey, I tried half a packet of Nectresse. The flavor was bad enough that I dumped the tea. I waited a day before trying it in some plain yogurt. I added a little bit to a small amount of yogurt, and again, threw it away after the first taste.

Just to compare, I tried a little Splenda in some fresh plain yogurt, and it tasted fine, though just sweet, without the depth of flavor of honey.

Looking at other reviews, it seems as though some people love it and some find it unpleasant. I'd suggest trying a small amount before stocking up on this sweetener.
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2012
Size: Packets - 40 Count|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I use artificial sweeteners all the time, and I'll admit I was skeptical about trying this one. However, it surpassed my expectations. It's sweet like table sugar right out of the package and the grains look similar to sugar. I like the texture better than Nutrasweet, Splenda, and Truvia. It dissolved quickly in my iced coffee, which is the main place I use sweeteners. I don't drink hot beverages, so I didn't try it there.

I like the taste better than the Splenda and Truvia that I've been using and I thought this had less of an after taste. I made some iced coffees for friends with it and they said they couldn't tell it had an alternative sweetener. I say alternative, because it isn't exactly artificial like some are. Anyone who uses alternative sweeteners knows that there is some sort of after taste to all of them, so it really depends on your taste preferences. This one really scored high for me and I'd definitely buy it again.
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