The Best Hard Tea Brands (Now with Arizona Hard Tea)

When I first set out to find the best hard iced tea, I was pretty disappointed in a lot of the drinks we taste tested. So many hard tea brands just don’t make bevs that taste like tea. It’s a real “you had one job…” situation. Plus, a number of hard iced tea brands are carbonated, which I wasn’t expecting given that most iced tea is not fizzy—why would alcoholic iced tea be different? Needless to say, I adjusted my expectations going into our second taste test, but I’m pleased to report that the hard tea outlook seems to be improving, thanks in part to the arrival of Arizona hard tea. 

I tried a lot of hard iced tea brands over the course of two separate taste tests, including all the Twisted Tea flavors we could get our hands on. (Twisted Tea isn’t carbonated, so that’s something!) I still wanted to find hard tea that tastes like tea—even if it’s mild, even if it’s green tea. From there, I mostly sought out drinks that taste good, but different enough from hard kombucha (also tea based) or hard seltzer to justify their existence. If you’re looking for something a little different to bring to the BBQ, check this list of the best hard iced tea.


best hard tea

Best Sparkling

Loverboy Half & Half

This isn’t the best hard iced tea if you’re looking for an Arnold Palmer dupe (read on for that), but it’s decent. And the Half & Half is much better than the other Loverboy flavors, which struck me as bitter. If you happen to want a hard tea with some carbonation, this is a good option. It tastes like tea. And that’s a start! 

Credit: Merc / Loverboy

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

owl's brew boozy tea review

Best Green Tea

Owl’s Brew Green Tea & Peach

Owl’s Brew is one of the progenitors of alcoholic iced tea, but, sadly, most of their drinks don’t really taste like tea. If it didn’t say tea on the can, I’d just think I was drinking hard seltzer. Their Green Tea & Peach was the exception. You definitely get green tea here—that nice, earthy flavor like green tea from a Chinese restaurant. Warning: All of Owl’s Brew’s canned hard teas are lightly carbonated. If you drink hard tea because you’re avoiding the burps, this isn’t the best hard tea brand. But it’s quite good and it’s a good alternative to any of the Twisted Tea flavors because it’s nowhere near as sweet. 

Credit: Merc / Owl’s Brew

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

best twisted tea

Best Twisted Tea

Twisted Tea Peach

Twisted Tea is certainly one of the most popular hard tea brands, but it isn’t the best hard tea brand. I tried all the Twisted Tea flavors that came in a summertime party pack—Original, Half & Half, Peach, and their limited edition Rocket Pop flavor—and Peach is by far the best. It doesn’t taste like phony peach flavoring; it tastes like peach nectar. It still doesn’t taste a whole lot like tea, but it tastes good enough that I’d totally grab one of these at a BBQ and be perfectly content.

Credit: Merc / Twisted Tea 

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

arizona hard tea review

Best Variety Pack

Arizona Hard Tea Variety Pack

Like all good Americans, I have a soft spot for Arizona drinks, so this Arizona hard tea variety pack was a real treat. All three flavors—Iced Tea with Lemon, Iced Tea with Peach, and Green Tea with Ginseng & Honey—taste pretty much exactly like the Arizona bevs they’re based on. The peach tea is really sweet and nectar-y. It tastes more like peach than it tastes like tea, but it still has that distinct Arizona flavor. The lemon iced tea might be my favorite. It really tastes like lemon tea, a little tart but not in a citric acid-y way. It’s so pleasant. And the green tea tastes like the drink you know and love with just a little bit of a funky alcohol flavor. You probably wouldn’t mistake the two, but it’s very clear what the influence is. If you want alcoholic iced tea that’s going to be a crowd pleaser, this is the variety pack to pick up.

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

best hard tea

Best of the Best

Arnold Palmer Spiked Original Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade

Spiked Arnold Palmer is about as good as it gets when it comes to hard tea. It’s not carbonated. It tastes like tea—like Arizona tea, but like tea all the same. (It’s worth noting that this looks and tastes a lot like Arizona’s NA Arnold Palmer, but the hard teas don’t appear to be affiliated with Arizona.) This half iced tea & half lemonade is sweet. It’s tart. It’s incredibly refreshing. It was the one hard iced tea we tasted that I would go out of my way to drink again. Arnold Palmer makes a good hard iced tea—the best hard iced tea, in fact. Nice one, Arnie (also RIP).  

Credit: Merc / Total Wine & More

Rating:

9/10

Sporks


About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Thank you for this post! I was in love with half and half twisted teas along with the new Arizona teas (both in tall boys *bonus points*) but I’ve never had those spiked Arnold Palmers! And if it is as you describe, it might be my new favorite after a try. Thank you again!

    Reply