Taste Test: Bottled Lemon Iced Tea

Looking for a refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat? See the results of this taste test before popping open a bottle of sweetened iced tea.

The Criteria

This taste test focused on sweetened teas with lemon (no other flavors for this challenge). Close attention was paid to ingredient quality, calories and sugar, and each tea was rated using a 5-point scale (5 being the highest). Although the teas came in various sized containers, all teas were scaled to 16-fluid ounces, the most popular size.

One thing that varied widely was sugar content, something worth keeping an eye on. The tea with the highest amount contained 48 grams, while the top-rated bottle had fewer than 10 grams. (To help put things in perspective, a 16-ounce soda/cola contains 52 grams of sugar.)

Here's how the teas stacked up!
Rating: 2.5
Cost: $0.66 (16 fluid ounces)

Nutrition Info Per 16 fluid ounces: 180 calories; 48 grams of sugar

Our Take: This tea came in a whopping 24 fluid ounce can – when full, it’s practically a weapon! It was the most affordable but also the sweetest and highest in calories. Really, all we taste when sipping is the cloying sweetness of high fructose corn syrup.

Rating: 3.5
Cost: $1.25 (16 fluid ounces)

Nutrition Info Per 16 fluid ounces: 150 calories; 36 grams sugar

Our Take: Simple ingredients (sweetened with sugar) makes this a classic favorite of many iced tea drinkers. A pleasant and distinctive flavor for sure, but the sweetness is a bit overwhelming.

Rating: 4
Cost: $1.48 (16 fluid ounces)

Nutrition Info Per 16 fluid ounces: 160 calories; 38 grams of sugar

Our Take: From the name you might expect the lemon flavor to dominate this drink but a clean tea flavor really came through. Made with cane sugar and lemon juice, it did not taste as sweet as some of the others despite its relatively high sugar content.

Rating:  4
Cost: $ 1.29

Nutrition Info Per 16 fluid Ounces: 100 calories, 26 grams sugar

Our Take: A nice flavor and thirst-quenching finish, The grams of sugar are lower in this tea but it still tastes highly sweetened due to the use of Stevia.

Rating: 5
Cost: $1.50

Nutrition Info Per 16 fluid Ounces: 60 calories, 16 grams sugar

Our Take: It was the most expensive of the bunch but totally worth it for this near perfect iced tea. It had just enough sweetness and a sensible amount of calories and sugar. If you're in it for the tea, this is the iced version for you.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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