Alte Schwendi Haus-Eistee

This is a special kind of ice tea I just discovered the other week… and I have to say, it is one of the most awesome ice teas I ever got to know!

Unfortunately it is only available in one place: At the mountain-restaurant Alte Schwendi, on the slopes of the ski-area Parsenn-Klosters, reachable from Klosters or Davos, Switzerland. In winter you can only get there by skiing or snowboarding, which makes this ice tea especially exclusive.

  • very refreshing
  • not very sweet
  • rose hip based ice tea

Color
Opaque, dark reddish, almost blood- or wine like, with a shiny glimmer.

Taste
Extremely refreshing. I love its mostly rose-hip based flavor, which I seem to notice is a main ingredient of a lot of my favourite ice teas.
Most amazingly, it tastes really good and somehow sweet enough, despite having very little noticeable sugar. Neither do they use a lot, if any, artificial flavorings, as it doesn’t leave have that strange bitter-sweet tingling on my tongue.
I don’t know how they make its so good and sweet-tasting, but maybe this mystery even adds to the flavor. (Personally I suspect it has something to do with the perfect mixture of black-tea and rose hip, that can improve the sweetness of its taste.)

Availability
That’s probably the biggest downside: As mentioned, this ice tea is a house-mixture of this particular restaurant in the Parsenn/Klosters skiing area. It is quite well known for being one of the best restaurants on the slopes in that region. In winter you can reach the Weissfluhjoch-peak via a Gondola 🚠 from Klosters or a rack railroad🚞 from Davos, then you have to ski ⛷(or as in my case snowboard🏂) to the restaurant Alte Schwendi (via pistes 17 and 24 😄).
Website of restaurant “Alte Schwendi”

I guess all of this somehow adds to its charm, but also makes it a really hard-to-get ice tea with one of the worst availabilities around…
It comes it the 0.5L glass bottle (pictured) for 6.60 Swiss francs (ca. 6.60 $ US). This makes it certainly not the cheapest ice tea, but neither overly overpriced for a ski-area where everything has to be transported up with a high mark-up. (A Nestea 0.33L bottle will easily cost you 5.80 in an average mountain restaurant in that region.)

+ awesome taste
+ very little sugar, but still sweet enough
+ very refreshing
+ no artificial flavors
– price
– availability

Overall Rating: 8/10

Arizona Blueberry White Tea

Another one of the most famous Arizona ice teas: The Arizona Blueberry White Tea. The first ice tea on here, which is based on white tea (instead of the usual black and the occasional green tea based ice teas). A very refreshing, light tea taste, with a slightly fruity sweetness from the blueberries.

  • pinkish, light clear color
  • white tea based
  • fruity blueberry flavor
  • pretty fresh and sweet

Color
The white tea itself having almost no color (probably only some yellowish), together with the berries, this ice tea ends up having quite a peculiar color: A light and clear pink.

Taste
Very sweet and refreshing: The white tea base is as light as it looks ans sounds… it makes it very drinkable and light on the tongue. The blueberries (and pear juice, according to the label) make it fruity and sweet, almost honey-like. It feels almost a bit like a syrup. This fruity berry-taste is slightly sticky at the front of the tongue, which means I can’t drink litres of it. But the rest of the tea being so light, it is still very refreshing, especially if you drink it very cold.
I’ve been drinking some of it now in winter and the fruitiness is surprisingly refreshing and fitting.

Availability
This variety from Arizona is their second most widely available ice tea outside the US. You’ll find it in a lot of small shops and in the deli-sections of large supermarkets.
It usually comes in a 0.5L bottle, priced the same as the Arizona Green Tea (substantially higher than 99 US cents).

+ sweet and fruity, but refreshing taste
+ light and quite easily drinkable
– slightly sticky fruitiness, can’t drink litres of it
– high price (outside the US)

Overall Rating: 7/10

Virtue Ice Tea

This is an ice tea I just discovered in a local shop: Virtue Ice Tea Lemon. I had never seen it before and of course I had to try it right away. I straight away liked the design of the label – and that it says “naturally sweetened”…

But I was quite disappointed. At first it’s not even that bad, simply bland and unoriginal. But as you drink more, it gets ever more bitter… The acidity stuck in my mouth, I kept licking my lips. And in the end I had to open up and drink another ice tea, just to wash down this taste.

  • acidic, bitter taste
  • clear, brown-yellow color
  • sticky on the tongue

Color
The color is a very clear, brown-yellowish amber. It is the same color as many mass-produced, low-cost local (non-)brand ice teas you get at the discounters.

Taste
The first taste is also similar to that of many discounter-ice teas (such as Elvis or M-Budget). A standard black-tea with a lot of artificially tasting lemon. If its really cold and I am thirsty,  the first few sips are alright and almost refreshing.
But as I keep swallowing, something seems to stick in my throat…
I liked that it says “naturally sweetened” at the front of the can. And I don’t know if it’s because of the sweetener used (on the smaller-print ingredients list it says: “steviol glycosides”), but the sweetness becomes immediately quite bitter in my mouth. The acidity sticks to the edges of my tongue and I keep licking my licks, to get rid of the bitter after-taste.
All this makes it quite awful and one of the worst ice teas I ever had so far.

Availability
Virtue Ice Tea is from the UK (and so far I have no idea of how big a brand it is). I got it in ZĂŒrich from an English specialties shop and according to their website their products are available in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Cyprus and few more countries.

+ no sugar
– artificial sweetness
– bitter taste
– sticky, acidic after-taste
– high price

Overall Rating: 4/10

Arizona Original Green Tea

An American classic (and popular all over the world): The Arizona Original Green Tea with Honey. As its name says, this is also a green-tea based ice tea, but its taste is quite soft and delicate for a green tea. It lacks a ‘minty’ flavor and instead you feel the mild sweetness of the honey.

  • fresh
  • light
  • honey-flavor
  • delicate, only slightly sticky sweetness

Color
It has a very light, very clear yellow (with maybe just a slight hint of green). The ingredients are processed and so it stays clear and there isn’t much that can settle in the bottle over time.

Taste
Even though it is a big-brand, mass-produced ice tea, the acidity of the additives and artificial flavorings is bearable. Only on the edges of the tongue you can feel a slight bitterness. (Or if you drink too much of it, it still can stick a bit in your mouth.)
The honey in the Arizona Original Green Tea makes it really sweet, without giving it a too sugary taste. I really notice the honey all over my throat and it is a joy compared to artificial sweeteners. Maybe that is the reason that this is one ice tea that you can drink quite well even if it is not ice-cold.

Availability
This specific Arizona ice tea, the Original Green Tea, is the one most widely available around the world of the Arizona ice teas – but not everywhere at the original price of 99 US cents for a can. Instead, you’ll find only 0.5L bottles, priced upwards of 2 Euros.
Some other varieties of Arizona ice tea are also easily available, but most of the very large Arizona range is very hard to find outside of the US. Especially the black tea based ice tea types I have never seen in Europe (even though they’re my favourite ones).

+ fresh and very light
+ nice sweetness (from the honey)
+ easily drinkable
– slight bitterness at the edges
– high price outside of the US

Overall Rating: 8/10

Volvic Thé

Volvic ThĂ© – or as its sub-line says: “The vert avec saveur de citron”. This is another big-brand ice tea, from the French Volvic beverage company known for its mineral water.

It is the first ice tea reviewed on here thats based on green tea, instead of the usual black tea. This gives it a very fresh flavor, reminiscing of peppermint. The lemon-taste makes it even fresher, but you can’t get around noticing how artificial both flavors really are.
It says on the label that they use real sugar and certainly this ice tea is quite sweet for a green tea. But its taste is not as sweet, as most of the black-tea-based ice teas. (And nowhere near the sweetness of an Italian ice tea like San Benedetto.) This lack of sweetness, despite the sugar content, probably stems from the dominance of the green tea in the overall flavor. Nevertheless you can’t help but suspect they used some artificial sweetener in the production too, because of this fake-sweet taste. And as always with these additives, the artificial taste keeps on lingering at the back of the throat, and in this case at the edges of the tongue, long after you has your sip of ice tea.

  • green tea
  • light and fresh
  • medium-sweet

The color of the tea is an extremely light, clear yellow – fitting to its light, fresh taste. On the label it says that they use the Volvic mineral water (“‘l’eau minĂ©rale naturally Volvic”) and this automatically gives you the impression, that you can feel the freshness of the water.

Overall it is a fresh, light, easily drinkable ice tea that is not too sweet and an ok refreshment for once in a while. But with the artificial flavorings, a certain sweetness keeps sticking in my mouth and makes it so, that I can’t drink too much of it.
Still, due to its lightness and sweetness, one of my more preferred green tea-based ice teas.

In Europe this ice tea is quite easy to find, though it is not quite as ubiquitous as Lipton and Nestea. As far as I’ve seen, it mostly comes in 0.75L and 1.5L PET plastic bottles (pictured). Especially the small bottle is a really good size bottle for the road.
The packaging-size also indicates that this is a mid-price range ice tea – usually slightly more expensive than your local (non-)brand and big-brand ice teas, but way cheaper than the ‘specialty’ ice teas in small-form packaging.

One thing I really like about this ice tea, is the labelling (which I’ve already quoted from). It’s nice to actually be able to read that this ice tea contains: 96% mineral water and 3.8% sugar (even if I personally can’t verify that).

+ light, easily drinkable
+ fresh
+ good labelling
– artificial sweetness
– sticky after-taste
Overall Rating: 7/10

Migros Ice Tea ‘Kult’ – Zitrone

A great classic: Produced by the supermarket chain Migros, it is the most popular ice tea in Switzerland – and in fact one of the most well known products of their entire range. Hence they gave it the sub-name ‘Kult’, as is has an almost cult-like following. (I for one certainly drink it a lot of it.)

It is made with black tea, rosehip and most noticeably roselle (a type of hibiscus from West Africa). Its color is distinctively light and opaque, brown/beige/yellowish.

The taste is also very light: The sweetness flows over the tip of the tongue, most of the flavor is given off in the middle and it goes down the throat very softly, almost like water. This makes it an ice tea of which you can easily drink large quantities… (At least for a mass-produced product. If you drink loads of it, you will get sick from the sugar.)
The lemon-taste (“Zitrone”) can be felt, but it is relatively delicate and not too acidic.

  • light + opaque color
  • taste of roselle
  • uniquely light on the tongue
  • easily drinkable
  • sugary

As all mass-produced and non-organic ice teas it has a lot of sugar. But as opposed to some others, this ice tea contains only sugar – there isn’t the residual taste of artificial sweeteners. And I guess this is also one reason why it is so popular with the locals… Apart from the really unique black-tea/roselle mixture, that gives it its unique taste.

It is available in 2L, 1L, 0.25L Tetrapacks, 1.5L and 0.5L PET plastic bottles and prices start at 1.40 CHF/2L, which makes it a very affordable ice tea to buy, compared to other local options. But being a product of the Migros-brand, you can only find it in Switzerland and not anywhere else.
There exists also a peach version and (at least in the past) a light version of this ice tea.

+ light, sugary taste
+ easily drinkable
+ low price
– only available in Switzerland

Overall Rating: 8/10

Lipton Lemon Ice Tea

This is the other major big-brand ice tea — and one that I was drinking for many years (since it is the only one easily available at a reasonable price in the UK).

Unfortunately it has the same blandness to its taste as Nestea and its flavor is dominated by the artificial sweeteners. That said, it lacks the distinctive artificial sweet taste at the top of the tongue, which Nestea has. So it is more easily drinkable and flows down the throat without being too sticky.
Nevertheless it has a certain bitterness at the end of the tongue, upon swallowing.
The black tea is also quite obvious in the taste and the sugar is clearly noticeable.  Mixed with the artificial sweetener, the taste lingers on the lips until washed out with another drink. The artificial lemon taste is also very strong and permeates the whole aroma.

  • strong, but artificial lemon taste
  • very sweet (artificial sweetener + sugar)
  • consistent flavor

Same as the other big-brand ice tea it has quite a high consistency in taste the world over, although not quite as extreme as Nestea. You will notice just slight variations in taste from country to country, which I guess are due to the different water-sources used in the production of the ice tea.

On the plus side: This is probably THE most widely available ice tea in the world (maybe even more common than Nestea). You will quite easily find packs of large bottles at quite a low price, as this ice tea is produced by one of the biggest food companies in the world, Unilever. So if you want to drink some ice tea without spending a fortune, you have little other choice. Also, you will often find yourself in a place (especially stalls and kiosks) where there is no other ice tea on offer other than Lipton.

There are several varieties in flavor, but as usual the Lemon version is the most common (and my preferred) one.

+ widely available
+ mostly reasonably priced
– artificial taste
– artificial sweetness lingers on

Nestea Lemon

In my personal opinion, this is one of the worst big-brand lemon ice teas. It has a very particular taste, that’s why it’s not even branded as an ‘ice tea’ as such. Nevertheless its sweet, artificial taste is modeled after black tea and it is an iced tea.

The taste at the front of the tongue is uniquely bland. The artificial sweetener is all over the mouth and the sugar makes it stick.
Upon swallowing there is a bitter aftertaste (I’m not sure if this is the ‘apple-acid’ mentioned on the label) that lingers on.

  • bitter-sweet
  • artificial sweetener

Nestea is a brand by Nestle, but produced by Coca-Cola. Some very big brands… That makes it one of the most widely available ice teas in the world. So you often find yourself in a situation, where the choice is: Either another (soft-)drink or this ice tea. Or sometimes there’s a local alternative, which is more interesting and can be much better – but might be even worse.
With Nesta at least you know what you’re getting, because it provides a consistency in taste the world over, as I have only seen it with Lipton ice tea.

 

+ widely available
– artificial, bitter-sweet taste