After reviewing a number of really good home brewed iced teas (click here to see them) I thought I would give awards for my top three based on the two basic criteria of taste and value. Drumroll please. . .
Coming in at a respectable 3rd place is Tazo “Iced True Black” tea. This is a really good traditional home brewed tea. I really enjoy the strong tea flavor which is a bit more distinct than cheaper teas like Lipton or Luzianne. The ingredients are “a blend of black teas”. Tazo indicates this tea contains 16-30 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces, assuming you brew it with a standard brewing method. The cost is around $3.50 for a box of 6 large tea bags, that makes 6 (64 ounce) pitchers. This comes out to about 15 cents per 16 ounces of tea. This tea is fairly easy to find at most Target stores. Until a few years ago, when they switched to Teavana, Starbucks served Tazo tea. Considering it’s great taste and reasonable price, Tazo ranks high on my list of traditionally brewed iced teas.
In second place is Mighty Leaf Organic Black Tea. On it’s site, their organic black iced tea is described as follows: “This dark amber thirst-quencher is a bracing, rich iced tea. Made with organic black tea leaves and just the right amount of sunny disposition, this classic iced tea makes it easy to sit back and enjoy.” This is one of the best tasting home brewed iced tea I have tasted. It definitely has a “rich” iced tea taste as it is described above. The ingredients are organic black tea leaves from India. This tea is sold on the Mighty Leaf site for $4.95 which includes 6 pouches that each make 1 quart of tea. That comes out to be one of the higher priced teas at about 41 cents per 16 ounces of tea. You can however also purchase 10 gallon sized pouches for $12.95, which comes out to a more reasonable 17 cents per 16 ounces.
And my top choice for home brewed iced tea goes to S&D Coffee and Tea brand black iced tea. S&D has been one of my favorite iced teas served in restaurants (like Chipotle) and since I found out I could order it online, it has become my favorite tea to brew at home. The way in which this product is packaged makes me think it is intended more for commercial use than to be purchased by the consumer. There are no brewing instructions anywhere that I could find and the tea bags come loose in a cardboard box like the one shown here. Having said that, this makes a great tasting home brewed iced tea which is very similar if not exactly the same as the tea they serve at Chipotle (especially if you brew it in the way described here). You can purchase this tea either on the S&D website or on Amazon and it comes in a box of 50 tea bags (which each make a 1/2 gallon of tea), or in a box of 96 bags (which each make 1 gallon of tea). The 50 pack calculates to under 9 cents per 16 ounces of tea, while the 96 pack comes out to the unbelievable value of under 4 cents per 16 ounces of iced tea. This is cheaper than any other tea I have reviewed.
The choice between S&D and Mighty Leaf was an incredibly difficult one. As you can see both got very high ratings in taste and I actually very slightly prefer the taste of Mighty Leaf over S&D. But the cost is really what gave S&D the gold over Mighty Leaf.
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I think I like my tea lighter than you do. My personal favorite is Twinings Darjeeling — a less intense taste but one I enjoy. It is available both in bags and as loose leaf tea — they taste the same to me. I don’t think it has quite the floral note (“muscatel” says the literature) of the finer Darjeeling teas, but it’s a nice light tea and I love it.
Originally you could find it in supermarkets near me (in the Bay Area) — lately I have had trouble finding it in restaurants, and have had to look in Cost Plus World Market or similar places. At this point I just buy six-packs of them at Amazon.
Another one I have tried and enjoyed is Harney’s Iced Tea Blend (which I originally got from Barnes and Noble, I think). There have been times when I was trying to reduce caffeine, and I’ve tried Harney’s Decaffeinated Darjeeling — which has a bit of a more floral taste, which I think may be more like the finer Darjeeling teas, but which keeps me from liking it as well as Twinings Darjeeling.
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I will definitely look into those, thanks for the input. Coincidently I was in the Bay Area this weekend and have multiple pages of notes to do a guide to iced tea in The City.
Check back within a week or so and hopefully I will have it posted. I would love to know what you think.
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er, I meant “finding it in supermarkets.”
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