I was thinking of starting this very special Holiday blog in the following manner:
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
Sweet tea was being stirred
For every rat, roach and mouse….
Or maybe like:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
Some said it was red because of sugar
Cuz that’s how the sweet tea flows…
I was actually going to write this bad boy in a Christmas parody like the above, but I’ve decided that the subject at hand calls for a much more serious approach. Through my years of writing this blog I’ve repeatedly mentioned sweet tea and how much the love for the beverage runs through my veins. Something that I’ve never accomplished, however, is a true taste test of the world’s top three sweet teas. The true reason for neglecting this vital piece of drinkable information that all of us need is that I’ve never had the occasion to have all of my three favorites together under one roof.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the 2015 Christmas Miracle:
That’s right. I know that you’re probably right now jumping up and down in a rhythmic pattern that can only be interpreted as euphoria. For the first time SINCE I’VE BEEN ALIVE, we had the occasion to have the Big 3 (not Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill) in our humble house. So what to do with this situation other than taste them side by side. Without further ado (because above all things I hate ado – much less more of it than necessary) let’s start the comparison between McDonald’s, Hardees and Chick-fil-a sweet teas. We’ll rate them on several different criteria – and I’ll intersperse the comments made by the ‘willing’ (i.e. forced) participants of the test.
APPEARANCE OF PACKAGING
After all – this is what ‘grabs’ you time after time to come back. It’s your handshake at the door, your first snowflake of the season, and your first idiot you encounter driving to work in the morning all rolled into one glamorous offering. The ratings:
McDonald’s –2 out of 5 Diabetic Comas. This is obvious from the above picture – they do not sell their sweet tea in ‘bulk’. To get the appropriate amount you need to buy 2 of the large teas and hold the ice. Get with the times, Ronald – you’re being overrun in this category.
Hardees – 4 out of 5 Diabetic Comas. While they sell it in bulk, frankly the graphics look like they came from the ‘Far Out Space Nuts’ show from the 70’s. Truth is – I’ve been wanting to put that reference in one of my blogs for a long time and since I have the occasion somehow – I took it and ran.
Chick-fil-a – 5 out of 5 Diabetic Comas. Brilliant. Whole Gallon. Minimalistic graphics. Cool and sweet looking. However, I don’t know why ‘sweet’ isn’t capitalized and ‘Tea’ is, but now I’m just nitpicking.
CLEAR WINNER – Chick-fil-a
APPEARANCE OF BEVERAGE
How does it look? Does it look just like processed and colored water? Does it ooze through your mind like a fine Zinfandel?
McDonald’s – 3 out of 5 Insulin Shocks. One of the comments about this variety stated something about looking like the urination of a large farm animal but it looked fine to me. That comment also came from one of the test participants that stated immediately afterward that he/she ‘was in the middle of something’, so I’ll discount that.
Hardees – 3 out of 5 Insulin Shocks. One comment on this was that it was slightly cloudy, which can be clearly seen in the below picture. I attribute this cloudiness to the lack of a commitment on the part of Ralph Hardees to clean his tea-making equipment.
Chick-fil-a – 4 out of 5 Insulin Shocks. The important comment on this was that it was a little darker and appeared more full-bodied than the others. While this was considered a good thing by the majority of the testers, one surprisingly scientific sounding comment was “it looked like the addition of too many tannins may have caused the discoloration…” Who knew.
Speaking of that scientific sounding comment, it reminds me of a story of a 20-something that I used to work with. He was married to a tea taster. Like a real job tea taster. She would go to Sri Lanka and India and actually sample the tea leaves for one of the major companies. In a surprising twist, one day he just stopped showing up for work and completely disappeared. It turns out that he actually ran away to Sri Lanka with her to continue to test teas. This has nothing to do with anything, but much like the ‘Far Out Space Nuts’ thought above, I’ve been wanting to get it into this blog for quite some time.
Anyway, CLEAR WINNER – Chick-fil-a
TASTE OF BEVERAGE
This is the big one. You can have the excellent price, the brilliant packaging, and the beautiful coloration, but if it tastes like crap, well, then it by default IS crap. So how did the taste comparison go? Well, I will say that one of the participants started this phase off with the following exclamation:
“What are the straws for?”
I was, at that point, slightly worried that I would get a valid taste test from this obviously challenged group of testers. However, much like Einstein, Edison, and Joey Ramone I forged bravely on to get the below comments:
McDonald’s – 4 out of 5 Pink Sugar packets (never know what they are). While I did get one scrunched-up-ugly-face at the taste and another with an audible ‘bleeeeeccccch’ , we are rating this one a 4 for the immediate sugar high that it creates. Brilliant flavor.
Hardees – 4 out of 5 Pink Sugar packets (never know what they are). Again, I had the same scrunched-up-ugly face from one of the testers, as well as a loud ‘yuck’ from the same tester as above. Which means, to me, that once again this rates a 4 for the brilliant flavor and coma-inducing sugar high it creates.
Chick-fil-a – 5 out of 5 Pink Sugar packets (never know what they are). No ugly face, no yucks or blechs. Just enjoyment. Two of the three commenters noted that they felt this tea was slightly less sweet than the other two and so they preferred it – so in deference to this comment I’m leveraging the extra Pink Sugar packet (never know what they are).
CLEAR WINNER – Chick-fil-a
So that’s it! We have a clear winner in the sweet tea 2015 review – Chick-fil-a. I congratulate them and welcome them to the traditional spot of glory in my refrigerator. From packaging to appearance to taste, Chick-fil-a sweet Tea obtained the heretofore unattainable honor of a clean sweep.
You ask knowingly about my personal taste test of the three? I know that you’re asking since I’m the true expert. All three tasted exactly the same to me and in fact, since we were down to just a little bit of tea in one of the Chick-fil-a jugs hugging a precious spot in the refrigerator, I dumped the McDonald’s and Hardees teas into that one container! Gutsy? Yes. Delicious? Double-yes. Your tastes will vary.
On that note, I congratulate Chick-fil-a and hope that all my readers have a wonderful Holiday season. I’ll be back in 2016 for more in-depth, hard-hitting reviews of the cereals and beverages that mean something to YOU. If you’d like to submit one of them for review, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to send them through the proverbial wringer.
Fair winds and following teas.