When we first took a look at McDonald’s Sweet Tea in early 2008, it prompted a lot of discussion about what makes at “good” sweet tea. Being a highly-regional concoction, there seems to be quite a few opinions regarding what tastes the best. Entering that debate is a tea we were fortunate to try recently, MaryAnna’s Summer Sweet Tea.
It’s not often that you get to talk to the founder of a beverage brand, so it was a surprise to interact with Mary Ann Rollano via Twitter and e-mail in regards to her gourmet blends of tea. Next thing I knew we had some lovely glass bottles of tea here at BevReview HQ, perfect as summertime seems to finally be upon us in Chicago.
The packaging of the tea comes in the aforementioned 16 oz. glass bottles, wider for most of the body with a narrow top. The attractive graphics harken back to a “retro summer experience” with light pastels and images of the beach, highlighted by a vintage “woodie” station wagon on the front label, all hinting at the East Coast vibe of this drink (the company is based in New Jersey).
The drink is described on the bottle as a “genuine brewed tea”, “rich infusion of custom blended teas”, “all natural”, and “lemon flavored”. Perusing the ingredients, you can see the makeup of this product is rather simple:
MaryAnna’s Summer Sweet Tea
Filtered water, pure cane sugar, 100% lemon juice, black tea leaves
Of course, the key is in how those ingredients are used and blended together for taste.
We cracked open a bottle and were greeted by a nice lemony smell. The hue of the drink is a light brown, murky color, similar to other lemon-sweetened tea flavors. As for the flavor itself, it’s quite sweet, but not overly so, which was pleasant. There’s no missing the tea flavor. I’d say your taste experience starts with a sweet, lemony greeting, and finishes with the kick of tea balancing out the sweetness. The lemon is very present, but does not distract and compliments the flavors well. The finish is clean, most likely associated with the use of cane sugar vs. HFCS. Beyond all that, I liked how the flavor felt bold during the entire sip, not watered down.
The 16 oz. bottle lists two 8 oz. servings per container, but I’ll provide the nutritional information for the entire bottle, as that is how most consumers tend to partake of such packaging. A full 16 oz. bottle features 160 calories, 10 mg. of sodium, 38 g. of carbs — all of which are sugars. This tea contains 2% of your recommended Daily Value for Vitamin C.
I’m not the most authoritative “tea connoisseur”, but I liked what I tasted, if that counts for anything. I’m curious what others who are big fans of the sweet tea variety will think of this beverage. I have a feeling they’ll be pleasantly surprised by the solid taste!