We Tried 7 Brands and Picked the Best Iced Tea
This summer, cool off with the best iced tea. Our Test Kitchen sampled seven popular brands to find the most refreshing options.
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What’s Really the Best Iced Tea?
With a hit of caffeine and plenty of ice, this is just the beverage to keep you powered up as you go back in to do battle with the dandelions. But is that bottle of iced tea from the supermarket really hitting the spot? To ensure you’re getting the most refreshing sipper, our Test Kitchen team went out to search for the best iced tea on the market.
How We Tested Iced Tea
For this taste test, our team sampled seven popular brands of sweetened iced tea. Based on our team’s research, sweetened is the type of iced tea people reach for most often. Each brand was sipped blindly and judged in these three categories:
- Brew: Iced tea should taste of freshly brewed tea. Any tea that tastes stale or too watery doesn’t get our Test Kitchen’s stamp of approval.
- Sweetness: We tested sweetened iced teas here. The best iced tea should have a hint of real sweetness courtesy of sugar or honey.
- Balance: The best iced tea options should strike the right balance of tea and sweetness. If there’s a little hint of citrus to round this beverage out, that’s OK by our team.
So what brands are the best? Check our Test Kitchen-Preferred picks.
Best People-Pleasing Iced Tea
Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
When you’re stocking your fridge for a summer BBQ, it can be hard to choose the right options. Do you have the sort of lemonade everyone likes? What about budget beers? And with iced tea, you never know if some folks like it sweet or mild or bold. With Pure Leaf Sweet Tea, our Test Kitchen is confident you’ll strike the right balance.
“This tastes like fresh brewed iced tea,” says Sarah Fischer in the Test Kitchen. “It’s very flavorful and not too sweet.”
These sentiments were echoed by the rest of our testing squad. Pure Leaf is a black tea-forward beverage with just the right amount of sweetness (from sugar, not corn syrup) to make this tea go down easy but isn’t so sweet that you feel like you’re sipping a soda. In the words of the Test Kitchen’s Maggie Knoebel, “easy and drinkable.”
Best Subtly Sweet Iced Tea
TAZO Black Awake Iced Tea
Are you the type that likes your glass of iced tea with just a touch of sweetness? You’ll want to stock TAZO Black Awake Iced Tea in your fridge.
This iced tea from TAZO has the same flavor notes as the brand’s signature Awake Breakfast Tea: earthy black tea, a touch of malt and even some subtle fruity notes. The exception here is that the iced version also has a touch of sweetness thanks to organic cane sugar.
TAZO’s iced tea was universally praised by our team of testers. In the words of Shannon Norris in the Test Kitchen, “I love that this has a flavor beyond sweet; it has subtle sweetness but mostly a terrific tea flavor.”
Best Sweet Tea
AriZona Southern Style Real Brewed Iced Tea
If you like your iced tea more on the southern side, grab AriZona Southern Style Real Brewed Iced Tea.
This bottled iced tea is definitely akin to our five-star Smooth Sweet Tea recipe. It has a more pronounced sweet flavor, like many southern-style sweet teas, with a bit of black tea at the finish. You’ll also get a whisper of lemon in this AriZona iced tea.
Overall, it’s the sort of tea that makes you imagine rocking on the porch on a warm Georgia evening. Sure, this brand may be a touch too sugary for folks unaccustomed to this style of tea, but it’s a delicious bet for when you’re looking for a great sweet tea without the fuss.
Best Citrusy Iced Tea
Brisk Sweet Iced Tea
When you order iced tea at a restaurant, are you the type that asks for extra lemon wedges to liven up your glass? Then Brisk Sweet Iced Tea is the best iced tea for you.
“I get a pleasing hint of lemon and some citrus business with this one,” says Sarah Farmer, head of our Test Kitchen. These lemon-forward notes are prominent in Brisk Sweet Iced Tea and are really refreshing on a warm day. Even after sipping plenty of samples this sweet and lemony beverage stood out to our team.
Now, is Brisk the most traditional iced tea out there? Absolutely not. The recipe for Brisk is more similar to soda than a true iced tea. If you want the real deal, skip it. But if you’re craving something sweet and citrusy that isn’t lemon-lime soda, this is a great option.
Check Out More Test Kitchen-Preferred Products
Our Test Kitchen is constantly testing food, kitchen gadgets and cleaning gear looking for brands that deserve the right to be called Test Kitchen-Preferred.
If you want to fill your pantry and fridge with the best products, check out these tests:
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