Sometimes basic black is best — an axiom that’s true for cocktail dress, tuxedoes, limousines, and teas to use when you want a brew to “beat the heat.” Just as most hot tea consumed in the U.S. is black tea, most iced (chilled) tea is made from black tea. And most of those are bagged teas.

Time for a chilled (iced) black tea face-off.

The Contenders:

For this comparison, I chose 4 bagged black teas that I’ve tried hot and enjoyed.

  • Devonshire Tea
  • PG Tips Black Tea
  • Typhoo Tea
  • Barry’s Gold Blend Tea

Two of them (Typhoo and PG Tips) have been staples in my tea pantry for several years now. The 3rd (Barry’s Gold Blend) has been a favorite of my hubby for a couple of years and is now one of my faves. The 4th (Devonshire Tea) has only recently come to my attention and proved to be a very delicate and flavorful black tea when hot, earning its place as a tea pantry regular. Let’s see how they all stand up to a change in temperature.

The Process:

For each tea, we used only one teabag in 2 cups of boiling water. We steeped each for 5 minutes. They steeped up to a beautiful ruby red color. We let them sit on the counter and cool for an hour or two before putting them in the refrigerator. (If you put something really hot in the ’frig, that heat can make the ’frig work overtime to cool the item.) We did not add sweetener before chilling, since we often prefer our chilled tea unsweetened. We decided when sipping the teas the next day if they needed anything added.

One thing to note: hubby and I use the “chilled” vs. “iced” method of cooling our tea. In the “chilled” method, you can steep the tea up light and avoid adding ice. If you use the “iced” method, be sure to steep up the tea stronger (use 2 or even 3 teabags instead of one per 2 cups of water) since the ice will thin it down.

The Results:

All 4 teas darkened in color from the beautiful ruby red to a rich brown. They all were a bit on the cloudy side. (However, I am not one of those who needs my chilled tea to be clear.)

Devonshire Tea — The mildness of the hot tea carries through to the chilled version. There is no bitterness, just pure tea enjoyment. Hubby and I also tried it with a touch of sweetener just to be thorough in our assessment. We are happy to say that the taste was even smoother and more appealing with only the slightest sprinkling of sweetener.

PG Tips Black Tea — A slight edge was evident as we let the liquid flow over our tongues before swallowing. However, it’s much milder in chilled form than hot, but not as mild as the Devonshire Tea. Again, we added a bit of sweetener to give a complete test. We needed to use slightly more in this tea to get rid of its edge.

Typhoo Tea — Slightly edgier than PG Tips. Darker in flavor, robust. It took more sweetener than the others to smooth out that edginess.

Barry’s Gold Blend Tea — Harsh, astringent, and needing quite a bit of sweetener to smooth out its almost barb-like edges. The caramelly flavor we love in the hot version is a mere echo at the very end in the chilled version. Still a great choice if you like your chilled (iced) tea “sweet.”

As one who prefers to buck the Southern tradition of “Sweet Tea” by drinking my chilled (iced) tea straight, I have to select for my own pleasure the tea that was best when unsweetened. That was, of course, Devonshire Tea. If you prefer yours sweetened, any of these black teas will produce a very suitable beverage.

There you have it — four options for chilled (iced) tea that shows that basic black is a great way to go. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: We received the Devonshire Tea as a sample to try. We purchased the others at a local store.

Make sure to check out Tea Time with A.C. Cargill! It’s a great place to “chill” out!

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