McDonald’s sweet tea

McDonald's sweet tea (Photo by New Africa on Shutterstock)

When you’re simultaneously craving something refreshing and something sweet, an ice-cold sweet tea truly hits the spot. Sweet tea was made popular in the South but has become a favorite beverage for people around the country. With all the love for this tasty southern beverage, we’re breaking down the best fast food sweet teas to try the next time you swing through a drive-thru. 

Aside from being a tasty drink to sip on, there are plenty of benefits to drinking tea. In fact, a recent study shows that drinking tea slashes the risk of diabetes. That is, however, if you keep it to four cups or less. This specifically applies to black, green, and oolong varieties. So, it may pay to order one of those three next time.

Speaking of green tea, its benefits don’t end there. Research shows that drinking green tea can strengthen gut health, strengthen your brain, and help you live longer. It is chock-full of antioxidants that make for a magic concoction for your body. That being said, ordering a green tea should be on your to-do list.

So, which drive-thru serves great sweet tea? StudyFinds did the research, consulting eight foodie review sites to bring you a consensus list of the best fast food sweet tea. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed establishments from across these sites. Think the foodies missed one of the best restaurants for grabbing a delicious sweet tea? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

sweet tea in a mason jar
A glass of tea (Photo by Matt Hoffman on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fast Food Sweet Teas, According to Reviews

1. Bojangles

Topping the list of the best fast food sweet teas is none other than the legendary southern fried chicken establishment, Bojangles. Here, you can find delicious fried chicken, biscuits, and, of course, sweet tea. 

“Bojangles’ says their tea is ‘legendary,’ and well, they’re right. Sweet and strong and perfectly iced, I’d bathe in this tea if that wasn’t completely gross. The drink has a distinctive taste, so you don’t need a huge yellow cup to know that you have Bojangles tea. It’s one-of-a-kind, and delicious,” writes AL

Bojangles has around 800 restaurants across 15 states, primarily located in the South“The Cadillac of sweet tea. It’s dark, bold … a hint of flavors you don’t expect, but you need all the same… Bojangles calls its tea ‘legendary,’ and the title fits. Poured over giant, smooth ice chips, it’s best served in the large styrofoam cups (locally, it’s just 99 cents) — these cups keep it cold for hours. The smaller paper cups condensate, get flimsy quickly and do a poor job of corralling the flavor,” raves Rant NC

Bojangles opened its first location in Charlotte, NC in 1977 and has been offering some of the most satisfying sweet tea ever since. “The sweetness factor was in full force in this sweet tea… Our verdict for this sweet tea is that it tastes better poured over ice and served with fried chicken and biscuits,” furthers Southern Kitchen

2. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is another fast food restaurant with southern roots so you know they’re putting a lot of effort into their tea. “To be 100% fair, Chick-fil-A’s tea is made extra amazing by the fact that their food is so good. It’s the perfect compliment to any fried chicken meal they offer. It’s not so sweet that you want to die after drinking it, but it has just enough sugar to be amazing,” explains The Odyssey Online

Medium Freshly-Brewed Iced Tea Sweetened at Chick-fil-A
Medium Freshly-Brewed Iced Tea Sweetened at Chick-fil-A (Chick-fil-a.com)

Chick-fil-A prides itself on stellar customer service and amazing food. So, it’s no surprise that they also offer some of the best sweet tea you can find. “Drivers from all over are probably clamoring for the sweet tea, but sampling it myself I was suddenly less annoyed by the wait. Adding to the triumph is the price—at $1.89, this tea hits the sweet spot for wallet and taste buds alike,” adds All Recipes.  

Chick-fil-A is based out of Georgia and has its headquarters in Atlanta. However, this is the only major fast food chain that’s closed on Sundays. “The fresh brewed iced tea at Chick-fil-A is consistent and pretty good tasting. It is brewed a little weaker than I prefer but still has a good taste and is never stale or bitter tasting in my experience. According to their customer support which I contacted, their ‘tea is a proprietary blend that is produced exclusively for Chick-fil-A by the Tetley Tea Company in Atlanta, Georgia.’ Chick-fil-A also has these small little ice cubes, which in my opinion is the best of both worlds between traditional cubed ice and crushed ice. Price is in line with most other fast food restaurants and the employees give free refills from behind the counter,” furthers Iced Tea Lover

3. Zaxby’s

Next up on the list of the top fast food restaurants for sweet tea is Zaxby’s. You’ll notice that establishments specializing in fried chicken offer the best sweet tea and Zaxby’s upholds that standard. 

“Zaxby’s has been a Southern standard in the sweet tea game for a little while now because, yes, that ice is just incredible. (Although, on the day I tried the tea, there was a little less ice than I would like.) But the tea is also fantastic as well — super sweet and perfect for hot Alabama days,” writes AL

Similar to Chick-fil-A, Zaxby’s is headquartered in Georgia and is dedicated to providing high-quality, unique fried chicken dishes and sandwiches. Zaxby’s fresh brews its tea in-house and adds its sugar after the tea is brewed – a staple of sweet tea made right. 

“Boasting high-quality ingredients, Zaxby’s concoction features tea bags and cane sugar, freshly brewed in-house. The beverage wins fans due to its harmonious blend of rich tea flavor and just the right amount of sweetness,” adds Mashed

Some experts even feel that Zaxby’s is at the top of the sweet tea game, brewing tastier tea than some of its rivals. “When we tallied up the points, we were surprised Zaxby’s scored higher than Chick-fil-A and Publix. From previous experience our judges, anecdotally, thought that those other brands tasted better than Zaxby’s; however, that just wasn’t the case in our taste test,” explains Southern Kitchen

4. Raising Cane’s

Raising Cane’s is known for its delicious fried chicken tenders and this southern gem is also pumping out some of the tastiest tea you’ll find. “Raising Cane’s has risen above the usual fast food expectations, particularly with its sweet tea offering…It offers a unique, enticing blend that appeals to die-hard tea fans and casual sipping patrons alike. Its edge over competitors lies in Raising Cane’s resolute commitment to freshness. The chain brews its sweet tea in-house, employing high-quality tea bags and cane sugar,” explains Mashed

Restaurants need to add sugar to sweet tea as soon as the tea is finished brewing, while it’s still hot. This allows the sugar to dissolve into the brewed tea so all the sugar doesn’t gather in the bottom of the urn. Raising Cane’s clearly has this process down to a science. 

“Since Raising Cane’s current spokesperson is Ice-T, the chain had a display in which the rapper was depicted smiling and posing with sweet tea and scowling alongside unsweet tea. Raising Cane’s uses nugget ice (the chain calls it Cane’s Ice), or layers of ice frozen together, which I think is trendy. Nugget ice is supposed to be more satisfying for ice chewers,” explains Insider

Obviously, Raising Cane’s takes a lot of pride in its sweet tea. Ice cubes aside, Raising Cane’s is brewing fresh sweet tea on site every day and that’s a big reason for the popularity.  

“After trying it, obviously their iced tea deserves to be in the top 5. While I admit it was very good, I still think my number one and two choices (Chipotle and In-N-Out) are clearly better tasting. Having said that, the way in which Raising Cane’s takes pride in their iced tea is something I wish more fast food restaurants would do,” furthers Iced Tea Lover

5. McDonald’s

McDonald’s is an OG and depending on who you ask, they have some of the best tea you can get from a drive-thru. “When it comes to fast food sweet tea, McDonald’s takes the spotlight, earning a solid name for serving a delightful beverage that encapsulates the essence of that cherished Southern gem. The chain’s sweet tea gets high marks for its well-rounded sweetness and invigorating taste,” writes Mashed

McDonald’s has over 40,000 locations around the world and that number is still growing by the week. The fast food giant knows how to make sweet tea – lots of sugar. 

“Darkest in color, the sampling from the golden arches looked almost like a clear melted caramel. Or perhaps a Torani syrup in a cup. Which is fitting since that’s what it tasted like—knocking back a full cup of syrup. ‘Tea’ is simply a vessel to deliver the sugar here, folks,” explains All Recipes

Like a lot of fast food restaurants, the quality of McDonald’s sweet tea can vary by location, so you’ll need to consider this when hitting the drive-thru for a quick sweet tea. 

You might also be interested in: 

Sources: 

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

About Matthew Sherdan

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor