The *Official* Sweet Tea Ranking

Sweet tea: a Southern staple.

Growing up in Texas, I have developed an addiction to the delicious God-sent beverage; so much so I'd say that mostly sugar and tea leaves run through my veins. This means I have strong opinions about the subject. Opinions that, after years of research and refinement and discussions with fellow enthusiasts, I would now like to share.


Here's how the rankings went down:

- Everything is rated on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (amazing); restaurants are listed in order from 6 (eh) to 1 (LOVE IT).

- Categories are Overall Rating, Sweetness, Ice Quality and Price for a medium-sized drink.

- Restaurants were chosen by means of popularity and how common they are in the region and the United States as a whole (otherwise Digg's definitely would have been on this list).

And now, without further ado, let's spill the tea on who has the best sweet tea.



Conspiracy theory: It’s just regular tea with a different label.

Overall Rating: 3/10

Sweetness: 2/10

Ice Quality: 2/10

Price: ($1.84) 3/10



It’s not a sugar rush; it’s a sugar high. I swear every time I hit up McDonald’s I have to wonder why there isn’t a warning label or a waiver you have to sign because of the amount of sugar they manage to put into their tea. However, the fact that the sugar is very, very present in their tea is what places McDonald’s above Whataburger - you asked for sweet tea, and here you’ll definitely get it. Drink at your own risk.

PRO TIP: Order half-and-half to cut the sweetness.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Sweetness: 500/10

Ice Quality: 2/10

Price: ($1) 8/10



When I think sweet tea, Popeye’s is never the first place to cross my mind. But it’s actually pretty good! It’s a bit sweeter than Chick-fil-a but not overly so; the only thing that brings the rank down is that it somehow just lacks the wow-factor to put it at the top. Still, if you find yourself at Popeye's, definitely get the sweet tea. 

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Sweetness: 6/10

Ice Quality: 4/10

Price: ($2.29) 2/10



The Southern classic. Everyone who likes sweet tea usually loves Chick-fil-a's sweet tea, but I have to say I feel like they’ve been missing the mark lately. Chick-fil-a used to be the golden standard: a sugary sweet drink that was toned down just enough by mildly-bitter black tea to be the ideal balance of saccharine and refreshing. Nowadays, it’s tasting a little more like tea and a little less like sweet tea. However it’s legacy carries it to the halfway mark, and Chick-fil-a still remains a solid choice for those who are just beginning to be introduced to the all-too-addicting world of sweet tea.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Sweetness: 6.5/10 

Ice Quality: 7/10

Price: ($1.59) 5/10  



Now, this is some pretty darn good sweet tea, IMO. It’s quite addicting, actually, and I find it near impossible not to get a refill, or two, or three, whenever I’m there. Plus, they basically have the best of both worlds with the whole has-the-best-chicken-tenders-and-Texas-toast claim to fame. Also, did I mention Cane’s sauce? All around solid choice, 10/10 recommend.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Sweetness: 8/10

Ice Quality: 9/10 

Price: ($1.59) 5/10



THE. BEST. TEA. EVER. Literally the best. Forget about the chicken and biscuits, whenever I roll up to a Chicken Express, it’s for the tea. It just has that certain je ne sais quoi that lands it in the top slot. Maybe it's the nostalgia of going here after going out with friends. Maybe it’s the way they mastered the perfect ratio of sugar to tea-- as in, it's really, really sweet, yet somehow retains the identity of tea. Maybe it’s the fact I can buy a whole gallon for $3.49. All I know is that I am here for it.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Sweetness: 10/10

Ice Quality: 9/10

Price: ($1.93) 4/10

And there you have it. I would like to thank my friends, the restaurants above and Marion Cabell Tyree's original 1879 recipe for fueling my addiction and making this ranking possible. Because of you -