Why does (Arizona for example) iced tea with sugar taste so different from sweet tea?

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This is a question that I’ve always thought about but never really pursued. Say we’re talking about Arizona iced tea specifically. Why does the original flavor taste so different from Sweet Tea? They have almost the same sugar, so where does the huge taste difference come from? Same can be said about Arizona iced tea and getting iced tea at a restaurant, and sweetening it yourself. Where does the taste difference come from?

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10 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

I’m not sure which Arizona flavor you’re talking about, as they don’t have one designated “Iced Tea.”

Let’s look at their Lemon Iced Tea though, as that seems to be the most common flavor. This uses black tea, cane sugar, and lemon flavoring. It has 50 grams of sugar.

Their sweet tea is also a black tea, but uses high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener. It has 58 grams of sugar.

So, the big differences seem to come not only from the total amount of sugar, but also type of sugar being used. Think of it this way: A chicken breast and a steak can have the same amount of protein, but they have vastly different tastes. The same is true of two drinks with the same amount of total sugar, but with different types of sugar being added.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Tea is a similar to coffee in that if you don’t brew it correctly you can change the flavor profile when you drink it.
There’s also different kind of leaves and combination there of, similar to how there are different coffee beans.

Same if you add different sweeteners or a combination of, at a certain stage of the brewing process.
Take a freshly brew cup of tea it’s still hot – you pour in honey. The honey dissolves as you stir.
Whereas after you wait for the tea to cool down. Add in your honey and sugar, you’ll see it sink to the bottom. You stir and some of dissolves, but you find some residue of honey and sugar still at the bottom.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Many teas also have citric acid added as a preservative. Apparently most people don’t notice it but I find it gives things a funny and unpleasant taste. Not sure if that applies to Arizona teas as I don’t drink those.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Sweet tea of any kind is just black tea, water, and some form of sweetener.

Strength of tea – Some people/brands let the tea steep in the water longer, so it brews stronger tea. This affects flavor.

Sweetener – The amount of sweetener added changes the flavor (southern style iced tea is usually much sweeter than other alternatives). The type of sweetener matters too. Arizona uses high fructose corn syrup because it’s cheap in the US and shelf stable for a long time. Traditional southern style sweet tea made at home uses granulated sugar. These taste different. Lots of other products use stevia, aspartame, sucralose, etc. These all taste different.

Type of tea – black teas aren’t all the same. Ones grown/processed differently will taste different. Just like coffee from different parts of the world tastes different, but it’s all coffee.

Anything else – lemon will change the flavor, but is a common addition. Some places add fruit flavorings like peach or raspberry. Mint isn’t unheard of. All these will affect flavor.

Tl;DR: Sweet tea is a big category with many variables that affect how it tastes.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Sweet tea is what is known as a supersaturated solution. By adding sugar when the tea is hot, you greatly increase the amount of sugar that can be dissolved in the tea. When the tea cools down, the sugar remains dissolved, resulting in a cold tea with *a lot* more sugar in it than would be possible if it was added when the tea was cold. So basically there’s just much more sugar in sweet tea, changing the flavor profile as compared to iced tea with sugar in it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A cold-brew black tea sweetened with simple syrup gets pretty close to Arizona. I don’t know what their exact process is, but it’s a more authentic iced tea flavour as opposed to something like nestea, for example, which is a really sweet artificial iced tea flavour.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Tea in particular seems to greatly absorb the “flavor” of what it is stored in.

Tea out of plastic container or an aluminum container tastes completely different than tea from a glass container.

Even the “freshness” of the tea greatly changes its taste.

If you brewed tea at home and added sugar to it. And, then you took a store bought packaged tea and added the same type and amount of sugar to it. I bet you they will taste different.

I agree with others here, saying that the type of sweeter plays a part. Yes, it certainly does. But, what I said above, plays much more of a factor than one would think.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When I worked in fast food, and at two different locations for the same chain, the amount of sugar placed in was astronomical compared to what you’d normally use. For a big bucket of tea (not sure how many gallons of it, maybe 7-8) we brewed the hot tea, placed it in the bucket, and then placed a full five pound bag of sugar in it. That’s it. We stirred and then chilled in large refrigeration unit.

The other location did the same thing but instead of sugar it was a large bottle of pure syrup, like half a gallons worth of just syrup that was dropped in and stirred. Tasted exactly the same.

As others have said, it’s largely the type of tea brewed and the type of sugar or sweetener used.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Isn’t the basic AZ tea sweetened with HFCS?

Between that and brew strength you’ll get some differences in flavor.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Citric acid. The acidity combined with the sugar produces more of a “tart” flavor than the sweet tea which doesn’t have much(if any) citric acid. Sweet tea is more of a pure sweet flavor without the tartness