|Dalek says 'You are Inferior'|
Since I had such a large shipment of tea, I recruited a few tea tasters to provide feedback. This was helpful since I don't usually drink sweetened bottled teas and I'm not the target audience. I've compiled the feedback from the tasters and myself, and this is what we found:
For all three teas, there is a strange woody/earthy 'oaky' flavor that is added to the black tea. Tasters didn't define it specifically as the oak, but we couldn't figure out what else it could be.
The highest marks went to the lemon tea, although to me it tasted the most like a regular bottled tea. It had a strong lemon flavor but was not bitingly acidic. It actually gave the tea a pleasant brightness. The 'oak' flavor is present but not as apparent. The sweetened tea was too sweet for those like myself that don't normally drink bottled teas, but those that do drink it found it to be fine. The sweetness was less cloying than the 'lightly sweet' tea. I don't usually drink sweet teas, but if I was travelling and looking for something to drink I may choose the lemon version of this. Assuming a true unsweetened tea is not available.
The 'lightly sweet' tea was not enjoyed by those of us that do not appreciate sweet tea. But those that usually drink sweetened tea thought it was pleasant. I actually didn't mind the oak flavor in this tea, perhaps because it toned down the sweetness. But some of the tasters thought this tea had a strange aftertaste.
The unsweetened tea had a very unpleasant acidic taste. It's really all I could focus on when I tried it. The funny thing is that even though this is labeled as an unsweetened tea, there are three sweeteners in the ingredients! Honey, sugar, and maple sugar are included. I usually prefer unsweetened teas in every circumstance, but when comparing these three teas, I actually thought it was the least successful. It didn't taste enough like black tea, and it was strangely bland yet too acidic without tasting like actual citrus. There is also a slightly sweet taste that our tasters found off-putting. If you are expecting an unsweetened tea, the hint of sweetness is not appreciated. Everyone thought this tea was also too weak, without much boldness that other unsweetened teas have. The tasters would only choose this tea if no other options were available at the store.
So the tasters didn't love the unsweetened tea, but there is a larger issue to highlight. As I mentioned before, there is sugar added to the unsweetened tea. Am I the only person appalled by this? Sure, it says on the label that the sweetener 'adds a dietary insignificant amount of sugar', but when I asked the Arizona rep about those that have sugar restrictions they replied 'only a person's doctor or nutritionist can tell them if this beverage is safe for them to drink'. If a consumer is looking for an unsweetened tea, and it says 'unsweetened' on the label, shouldn't that mean there is no sugar in the bottle? It also leads me to believe Arizona doesn't stand behind the taste of their tea since they need to add sweeteners to alter the taste.