During the peak of summer, there’s nothing I like better than relaxing in my backyard with a good book. To really settle in, I like to grab a homemade cookie or two and a tall glass of iced tea. When I’ve got tea on hand, I love to mix up a pitcher of it myself and stir in a handful of fresh mint from the garden and a few squeezes of lemon. You can try some our reader’s a favorite iced tea recipes at home, too!
But if I’m being honest, I rely on pre-made iced tea just as much as my from-scratch option. That got me wondering, though: which iced tea is the best iced tea? If I want that lazy afternoon to be its most relaxing, I have to have the most refreshing option (also the best partner to go along with our top-rated lemonades for an A+ Arnold Palmer!). To find a new favorite, I tested the following brands (all lemon-flavored) with a handful of iced tea fanatics:
- Gold Peak
- Honest Tea
- Pure Leaf
Now, let’s see how these all stacked up!
Honorable Mention: Dean’s
For folks that prefer a more tea flavor, Dean’s iced tea was the perfect option. This gallon-sized jug of iced tea offered that great black tea flavor many testers craved with just a hint of lemon. This one was pretty mild when it came to sweetness, so testers considered it a good choice for folks that prefer their tea just a little less sweet. It’s also a good match for lemonade in an Arnold Palmer—the tartness and sweetness would compliment this brand well (psst… turn the classic Arnold Palmer into a sweet dessert with this recipe).
Nudging ahead by just a tenth of a point was tea superstar Lipton. This brand had a bold black tea flavor, but that was complimented well by a decent amount of sweetness. For folks that prefer their tea on the sweet side, Lipton is definitely the option for you. With just a bit of lemon flavor, this one had us really thinking of summer.
Best in Show: Gold Peak
If Dean’s was on the minimally sweet side and Lipton was on the maybe-too-sugary-for-some side, Gold Peak fell right in the middle. This tea had the right balance of sweetness for us—plus, it was made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup!
Testers also really loved the tea flavor from Gold Peak. It wasn’t over-steeped or bitter, and when paired with just a bit of lemon, we found it to be superbly refreshing. In fact, every tester finished their sample in our tasting room. Now imagine having a nice, tall glass on your front porch on a sunny afternoon. We’re confident that it will go down smooth.
After trying a whopping tend brands (that’s more than most of our tests!), we’re pretty happy with our three top picks. The panel agreed that these were all good options for pre-made teas. We’d happily grab a bottle of any of these to pack with our favorite picnic eats. That being said, most testers agreed that they’d prefer to make their own iced tea at home to achieve the perfect levels of sweetness and citrus.