Mashed's Exclusive Survey Uncovers The Best Fast-Food Sweet Tea

Sweet tea connoisseurs of the world have strong opinions about their beverage of choice. Whether they brew it at home or have a favorite purchase point in mind, nothing can ruin a sweet tea drinker's day quite like a poorly made glass of the good stuff.

Tea certainly has a storied history to its credit. The very first tea was supposedly accidentally brewed around 2737 B.C. in China, when some leaves blew into drinking water that was being boiled, causing a brew to occur, says the U.K. Tea & Infusions Association. Regardless of whether that story is true, the newfangled beverage did become popular in China around that time and eventually spread into other parts of Asia. In the 17th century, it made its way into the United Kingdom, and many Brits still enjoy an afternoon cup or two.

Americans put their spin on the classic beverage when they added a ton of sugar to the water during the boiling process. According to Southern Breeze Sweet Tea, this likely occurred in South Carolina, which was the first stateside location for the growth of tea plants. The very first recipe for sweet tea was likely published in a cookbook in 1879. Eventually, ice cubes entered the picture, and the rest is history.

The best sweet tea, according to Mashed readers

Certain fast-food joints are to sweet tea as Starbucks is to coffee. Like coffee drinkers, many sweet tea enthusiasts strongly prefer their beverage of choice from one or two specific locations. Mashed asked 599 readers which fast-food restaurant has the best sweet tea, and a couple of contenders stood out from the rest of the pack.

The big prize goes to McDonald's, which topped the list with 28.38% of the vote, edging out Chick-fil-A at 23.04%. The chicken purveyor's close second place is pretty impressive, however, considering there are only around 2,600 locations in the U.S., compared with the more than 38,000 McDonald's spots operated around the world.

Next on the list is Raising Cane's (16.03%), which isn't a shocker; the chain's metaphorical bread and butter is southern food, such as fried chicken fingers, according to the company's site. So, it only stands to reason that their sweet tea would be top-notch, too. Another chicken spot, Popeyes, took 15.36% of the vote, followed by KFC (8.68%) and Burger King (8.51%). In the minds of many, a tea by any other name would not taste as sweet.