There seems to be something that both Michelle Obama and Rush Limbaugh can agree upon: High fructose corn syrup is bad. With that odd combination of political opposites, we take a look at Two If By Tea, a branded-tea line from the political commentator and talk show host Limbaugh… which, of course, is sweetened with sugar.
We don't discuss political parties here on BevReview; we'll let other folks tackle that. However when BevReview reader (and Rush Limbaugh fan) Karl Bastian ordered a couple cases of Two If By Tea for us, noting that we "have to try this stuff," well, I guess we have to maintain our civic duty.
Per the official website, the name Two If By Tea "is a modern twist on the famous line 'one if by land, and two if by sea' in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, 'Paul Revere's Ride.' According to the oft-quoted poem, on April 18, 1775 Paul Revere rode into the Massachusetts countryside warning of the imminent invasion of British 'Regulars' bent on destroying the American spirit."
So either this tea is here to save the American spirit or Limbaugh just needed an opportunity to brand something with his likeness. You decide.
We sampled the two main flavors, Original Sweet Tea and Raspberry Tea. These are also available in diet versions, sweetened by the combination of sucralose and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K); we did not review the diet options, thus we cannot comment on Two If By Tea's claim that "you don't have to put up with an artificial chemical aftertaste found in many other beverages."
Both flavors come packaged in 16 oz plastic bottles that have a medium-sized neck topped off by a white twist off cap. The label design features blue or red color schemes, depending on flavor. Anchoring the look under the "Two If By Tea" name is a caricature of Rush Limbaugh dressed up like Paul Revere. The backside of the label talks about the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which receives donations from this tea brand.
Let's jump into the flavor of Two If By Tea Original Sweet Tea. Now, we've reviewed quite a few sweet teas over the years, so our benchmarks are pretty well established. This tea is lighter in color than most sweet teas we've seen. Interestingly, the scent was rather faint upon opening the bottle.
As for the taste, it's not quite what I expected. When a product labels itself as "Sweet Tea," you expect it to be quite sweet and somewhat smooth. Two If By Tea's version had some sweetness, but seemed instead to rely on the black tea flavor as its primary attribute. That's the flavor that first greets you, followed by the more traditional sweet tea taste followup. The aftertaste is clean, which can probably be attributed to the use of sugar. It's not a bad product, but as far as sweet teas go, there are better versions out there, such as MaryAnna's Summer Sweet Tea. I just find it baffling that the marketing text for their Original Sweet Tea flavor actually states the following: "It's a traditional black tea that is not too bitter and not too sweet." A sweet tea that's not sweet?
Two If By Tea Original Sweet Tea
Water, sugar, natural tea essence, natural flavors, black tea, phosphoric acid
A 16 oz bottle contains 120 calories, 10 mg sodium, and 30 g carbs (30 g sugars).
The other primary flavor from Two If By Tea is their Raspberry Tea. It's roughly the same lighter color that we found with the Original Sweet Tea flavor. Crack the cap off and you do smell a bit of berry infusion. As far as flavor profile, it's quite a bit different. It starts out rather "blah," but crisp, with a limited tea flavor in place. Then at the back of your throat, the raspberry taste kicks in and resides through the aftertaste. It's not super sweet, and the tea flavor definitely backs off of the black tea-ness, feeling more like a casual tea product. This product is also sweetened with sugar, so the initial flavors are quite crisp, but an artificial-tasting raspberry flavor lingers after swallowing.
Two If By Tea Raspberry Tea
Water, sugar, natural flavors, citric acid, black tea,
A 16 oz bottle contains 120 calories, 10 mg sodium, and 40 g carbs (40 g sugars).
Currently, Two If By Tea is only available online via their official website. Products are ordered in 12 bottle cases with free shipping. Upon receiving my package from the company, I found that it featured groupings of 6 bottles shrinkwrapped together. The packaging process seemed to be a little rough and too tight, as many bottles were permanently "dented" from being crushed next to each other. Also, one of the caps on the Sweet Tea package arrived lose, meaning that tea had spilled all over the other bottles that were wrapped together with it. A very sticky situation!
So what's the final vote? Two If By Tea is an average tea brand. If it didn't have the marketing push of Rush Limbaugh attached, it would struggle to be noticed. The package design, from the plastic bottle to the hard-to-read labeling feels more "cheap" than special, along the lines of the plastic bottle Snapple line, even with a price-per-bottle of close to $2. With an average flavor profile, value shoppers would be better off tracking down one of the many $1 Arizona or Peace Tea flavors; you'll get more options, better flavor, and a lot more beverage (granted, with high fructose corn syrup). Those looking for more distinctive tea flavor will probably still hit up their Whole Foods for higher end offerings from Honest Tea, Numi, or Sweet Leaf.
It's just hard to figure out exactly where Two If By Tea falls. It tries to seem special, but it just isn't. It's a decent-tasting tea line, but it's oddly classified. It's a product aimed more to the likes of politically savvy customers, not beverage enthusiasts.
Official Website: TwoIfByTea.com