Tea Wars, or Finding the Perfect Arnold Palmer


After reading John’s post about Peace Iced Tea, I decided to give it a try (you will get no stupid give peace a chance puns out of me.) I discovered, much as he said, that it was superior to Arizona and the $0.99 price was also quite nice. I then thought that it should be my mission to do some tea research of my own, specifically the wonderful half lemonade half iced tea concoction known as the Arnold Palmer. Over the past two weeks I’ve had more tea than Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady on a trip to Mexico. It has been a labor of love; it is difficult to screw up the Arnold Palmer, even at its worst it is still pretty delicious. Mixing iced tea with lemonade is magic. On top of that I owe the beverage a lot for helping to end my cursed addiction to Diet Mountain Dew.

First a few words about sweeteners. I already railed against high fructose corn syrup and will not use this post to do it again. It is simply a fact that an Arnold Palmer sweetened with HFCS just doesn’t taste quite right, and has a thick finish. Not what I’m looking for in a supposedly refreshing beverage. I’ve also tried many sweetened with sucralose, which is the primary sweetener in Lipton Diet Tea; pretty mediocre stuff if you ask me. Our friends at Peace Iced Tea combine the use of real sugar with sucralose to make a lower calorie version, highly superior to the diet teas.

What is sucralose, you ask? It’s the artificial sweetener used in Splenda. According to Wikipedia, it is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Sorry Peace Iced Tea, you can say you use “all natural ingredients” but I’m not buying it.  You can plaster your can with all the hippie symbols you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you use an artificial sweetener coupled with sugar for your tea. The use of sucralose and its unholy level of sweetness would explain why Peace Iced Tea leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in your mouth. Not awful, just not what one would hope for out of a true sweet lemon tea, as they call their Arnold Palmer.

So whose version of the Arnold Palmer is best? I found some really great ones out there, Nantucket Nectars Half and Half is outstanding, as is Sweet Leaf Organic Half and Half and Honest Tea Lori’s Lemon (even if the name is a little too cutesy for me.) It is with some regret, however, that I have to admit that Tazo Black Tea and Lemonade is the best version I found. I normally don’t like philosophical messages on my tea unless Sartre makes an appearance, but I suppose I can drink it without looking at the idiotic feel-good quotes.  I also am not a fan of Starbucks (they bought Tazo a little over ten years ago), but I will let John’s spot on rant about them be the definitive word on Starbucks instead of launching into a predictable anti-Starbucks diatribe.  I just have to assume that the original founders of Tazo came up with the current recipe and Starbucks was smart enough to leave it alone.

So there it is, Tazo Black Tea and Lemonade rocks. The only drawback is the 13 oz. bottle, but hey, I suppose I don’t need to drink any more than that anyway.  Have a different opinion or feel like I’ve missed something? Let me know, I’d love to do more tea research, it was good times.