CAPSULE REPORT: Honest Tea’s subtly sweetened iced teas and Honest Ades pack a double punch: they’re just what you need to beat the summer heat and, since they are all natural and organic, they’re something you can feel good about drinking. Plus, if it is variety you’re after, look no further. If you long for fresh-squeezed fruit taste without loads of calories, these teas are for you. There are 18 mouthwatering tea flavors and three tempting Honest Ades. This is Part I of a two-part article. To read Part II, click on the lack links below.
As the temperature rises, so does our desire to lounge around, cool drink in hand, enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures. And, when searching for a beverage that is quintessentially summer, one would be hard-pressed to find a more ideal candidate than iced tea. That is, of course, except for lemonade.
Luckily, with Honest Tea, you don’t have to choose. The company makes it even easier to participate in this time-honored tradition with a line of ready-to-drink iced teas, Honest Ades and children’s drink pouches in guaranteed-to-please flavors that that are way more portable than a pitcher. But abandon all your past notions of super-sweet summer sips: When it comes to sugar, Honest Tea has a delightfully light touch. Their sweetened beverages (there are two unsweetened flavors) are, in their words, “just a tad sweet.” And while there may be only a little sugar, there’s a lot to love. The best part is, all of the beverages are organic, and three are even Fair Trade: socially-responsible sipping that’s also antioxidant-rich.
But for Honest Tea, it’s all in a day’s beverage. When Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebluff started the company in 1998, they wanted to make a drink that was more flavorful than water but better for you than sugary sodas. Even if you’re an iced-tea elitist, a connoisseur with a taste for only the freshest tea and a skepticism for the bottled variety, Honest Tea will keep you coming back for more. Prepare to meet some new twists on old favorites.
When it comes to quality, Honest Tea does not take any shortcuts. All of its teas are brewed with purified water and only the finest tea leaves. The proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, the potable. There’s nothing artificial, just real ingredients and real flavors (now that’s truly refreshing). Most of the teas are lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar; some are calorie-free, and some have minor calories.*
*Most people we know drink an entire 16-ounce bottle of tea as one serving, while manufacturers provide nutritional information for 8-ounce servings. Here, we’ve chosen to provide servings-per-bottle.
Black Teas are a classic choice. The smooth, strong flavors stand up well to a tall glass of ice, a fact that Honest Tea certainly had in mind when it created the five perfectly-balanced versions. Both Lori’s Lemon Tea (60 calories—all calories given are per 16-ounce bottle) and Lemon Black Tea, with their timeless combinations of black tea and lemon and just a hint of sweetness, will satiate a longing for backyard barbecues and front porches. Assam Black (34 calories) is bigger and bolder—the rich taste of the tea is artfully enhanced with just the right amount of lower-glycemic maple syrup. While Just Black Tea (0 calories) may sound simple, the vibrant flavor of unsweetened Fair Trade Indian tea is anything but. If you love the taste of black tea yet shy away from caffeine, try the Citrus Spice Decaf Tea (34 calories), spiced up with cinnamon and sweetened with agave.
Green Teas. Green tea fares just as well as black when served icy cold. Honey Green Tea (70 calories) is a great place to start—its light, honey-kissed green tea flavor is perfect for any time of the day. Just Green Tea (0 calories), which is Fair Trade Certified, showcases big green tea flavor without any sweetener. Touches of fruit can be found in Green Dragon (60 calories), which features the distinctive sweet-sour tang of passionfruit. Moroccan Mint Green (34 calories) is another great choice, combining peppermint, spearmint and white clover honey for those who like their tea with a side of sass. Citrus Green Energy Tea (70 calories) and Jasmine Green Energy Tea (34 calories) both include naturally invigorating blends of yerba maté, oranges, lemons or white tea and jasmine respectively.
White Teas. The praises of this delicate tea continue to be sung as more and more research reveals its many benefits: it is lower in caffeine than green and black teas and is higher in antioxidants. The tea is characterized by its light flavor, and Honest Tea is careful to respect its fragile nature with varieties such as Pomegranate White Tea with Açaí and Peach White Tea. Pearfect White Tea (70 calories) features subtle notes of—you guessed it—juicy pear, which adds elegance and depth. There’s more to the Mango White (70 calories) than one might think—aside from the sweet, tropical kick of mango, açaí* is also showcased, which adds tart berry notes.
*Açaí is a fruit from an Amazon palm tree renowned for its high antioxidant, omega 3 and amino acid content.
Oolong. Peach Oo-la-long (60 calories) may be the only oolong in the bunch, but it is no shrinking violet. The woodsy taste of oolong tea, which is halfway between a green tea and a black tea in the oxidation of the leaf, is the perfect companion to the fresh peach purée.
Herbal Teas. Herbal tea is not actual tea, (Camellia sinensis) but is made from other plants that do not contain caffeine (chamomile flowers, for example). It’s thus perfect for children or anyone seeking caffeine-free consumption—and also great for anyone just looking for a delicious and cooling drink. First Nation Peppermint (34 calories), based on a Crow Indian recipe, has a minty flavor that soothes. Black Forest Berry (60 calories), a luscious hibiscus-infused tea, is pleasantly floral and perfectly fruity. Sublime Maté (80 calories) is an energizing blend of South American yerba mate and organic limeade with a hint of ginger (learn more about yerba maté).