Fast Food Sweet Tea Ranked From Worst To Best

You might say, "the best things in life are sweet," and that couldn't be truer, especially when it comes to sipping on a perfect glass of sweet tea. This iconic beverage has nestled itself onto menus at fast food joints across the United States, guaranteeing a refreshing ride that takes us straight to those warm, sunny Southern moments. As sweet tea sales shoot skyward in the summer heat, one question lingers: With all these choices, which fast food joints serve up the finest sweet tea?

Mind you, not all sweet teas are crafted equally. With a heap of fast food chains giving their spin on this beloved Southern drink, finding the crème de la crème can feel like chasing a firefly on a steamy summer night. But fear not! We've got your back. We've searched far and wide across blogs and reviews by fast food fanatics and genuine Southerners who appreciate the excellence of their cherished beverage. Armed with their wisdom, we've compiled a trusty roster of fast food sweet teas, both heavenly and downright swampish. Ready to explore the delights and the dregs? Here are some the worst and best fast food sweet teas out there.

Worst: Arby's

While often lauded for its roast beef sandwiches, Arby's packs a letdown punch with its sweet tea. Reviewers aren't shy about their displeasure, with one TripAdvisor commenter stating, "sweet tea needs to be sweeter," and another on Yelp saying, "The sweet tea wasn't sweet. No sugar at all." A proper sweet tea is a harmonious blend of rich tea flavor kissed with soothing sweetness. In this regard, Arby's lands flat. On Alabama news site, where fast food teas are scrutinized, Arby's hovers near the bottom of the list. It's so sweet, quipped the reviewer, it's like you "never want to sleep" again. A dubious compliment at best.

Arby's sweet tea ain't just disappointin'. It also lacks consistency. Too sweet, not sweet enough — there's no telling what you'll get. If sweet tea's a beautiful symphony, Arby's struggles to keep the tune. There's room for improvement. Perhaps revising the tea-leaf-water-sugar ratio could do the trick, or exploring different brewing methods. In a nutshell, Arby's needs to step up and deliver a sweet tea that lives up to this revered beverage's esteemed reputation.

Best: Chick-Fil-A

Chick-fil-A crowns itself as a beacon in the sweet tea realm. Its secret? Freshly brewed tea in-house using top-tier tea leaves and authentic cane sugar, even for the gallon iced teas! This dedication to fresh, robust flavors shows in the rave reviews it receives. One enchanted commenter from Iced Tea Lover enthused, "The fresh brewed iced tea at Chick-fil-A is consistent and pretty good tasting ... never stale or bitter tasting in my experience."

Crafting the perfect balance between sweetness and robust tea flavor isn't child's play, and Chick-fil-A's mastery of the art hasn't gone unnoticed. On Reddit, one satisfied customer christened Chick-fil-A's sweet tea as, "liquid gold." These praises separate Chick-fil-A from the underwhelming sweet tea offerings elsewhere. In a sea of inconsistencies and mediocrity, Chick-fil-A shines. Its guarantee for consistency, coupled with using only the finest ingredients sourced from its very own exclusive tea brewer, Tetley Tea Company, affirms Chick-fil-A's stronghold on the hearts and taste buds of sweet tea lovers far and wide.

Worst: Sonic

Sonic may win hearts with its ice, but its sweet tea is a different story. The beverage faces criticism for its lackluster taste. YouTube channel It's a Southern Thing describes Sonic's sweet tea as "plain," "not normal," and oddly "raspberry" flavored, leaving it trailing behind competitors in terms of quality and appeal. One TripAdvisor reviewer, a self-professed sweet tea drinker, expressed their dissatisfaction, stating they'll stay clear of certain Sonic outlets due to the subpar tea while another on TripAdvisor said, "it just really sucks that none can make good sweet tea, (it's) so watered down."

Compared to Chick-fil-A's robust and well-balanced sweet tea, Sonic's brew is underwhelming. With an emphasis on refining its brew's key traits, Sonic has the potential to carve a niche for its sweet tea amid the intense competition. Sonic's current tea offering leaves room for growth and innovation. Upgrading the recipe and fine-tuning the execution could set Sonic on a path to greater accolades in the sweet tea domain.

Best: Zaxby's

Zaxby's sweet tea is often seen as the archrival of Chick-fil-A's famed brew. 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. One smitten sweet tea reviewer on TripAdvisor exuberantly praised Zaxby's sweet tea as the "best sweet tea on the beach." Such adoration demonstrates the satisfaction and loyalty inspired by Zaxby's tea.

One reviewer on ARFCOM swooned over Zaxby's ability to achieve the delicate balance found in classic sweet tea, noting, "It was sweet enough to be sweet tea, but not too sugary to overpower the spiciness of the tea itself." Testimonials like these validate Zaxby's deft execution of this ageless drink while underlining its consistency in delivering delightfully flavorful experiences. The news site concurred, dubbing Zaxby's tea "super sweet and perfect for hot Alabama days." Given the enjoyable mix of sweetness and rich tea flavor, it's no wonder Zaxby's sweet tea garners widespread acclaim.

Worst: Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen may delight fans with its scrumptious ice cream and popular fast food fare, but one menu item leaves many customers underwhelmed: its sweet tea. Experiences with this tea have been largely disheartening. One TripAdvisor review ominously warned, "Don't order tea," elaborating on how the drink was "awful" and likely made without filtered water.

Similarly, on Restaurantji, one particularly jarring account describes the tea as "so bad I stopped drinking sweet tea for a time," dubbing it a "disaster." A review at Odyssey states, "Dairy Queen's tea borders on syrupy every time I have it. Like, why does it taste so weak, but so sugary?" The peculiar lack of glowing reviews for Dairy Queen's sweet tea highlights its inability to impress. Failing to strike the right balance between sweetness and flavor, its sweet tea significantly falls short in garnering the same customer approval as DQ's other offerings.

Best: Raising Cane's

Raising Cane's has risen above the usual fast food expectations, particularly with its sweet tea offering. As Iced Tea Lover explained, it's "definitely one of the better tasting teas I have had from a fast food restaurant." 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. 

One TripAdvisor customer lauded Raising Cane's, saying its "sweet tea is amazing." And this sentiment is not alone. Its sweet tea prowess extends to The Red Ledger, where Raising Cane's brew was described as "refreshing" with the reviewer saying, "I was surprised at the balance between the flavors. Although it was sweet, there were also hints of lemon and other tea flavors." This accolade attests to the widespread allure of its distinctive recipe. Raising Cane's has carved a niche in the fast food sweet tea market, keeping its customer base content and thirsty for more.

Worst: Popeyes

Although Popeyes sweet tea promises quality ingredients like orange pekoe and black pekoe tea, the actual drinking experience leaves much to be desired. One might expect Popeyes fresh-brewed Cane Sweeeet Iced Tea to harmonize perfectly with its claim of bold, Louisiana flavors. Nevertheless, numerous reviews contradict this lofty declaration.

The ever-reliable folks from YouTube channel It's A Southern Thing described Popeyes sweet tea as weirdly flavored, leaving them questioning whether "fried chicken flavored sweet tea should be a thing." Other unhappy customers on Lipstick Alley blasted Popeyes sweet tea as "sour," "too sweet," and "nasty," with one user venting, "Why would you buy anything besides chicken from Popeyes?" Such feedback suggests that Popeyes sweet tea misses the characteristic bold tea flavors and sugar ratio vital to a tantalizing Southern-style sweet tea. Despite promising a stimulating and tasty experience for sweet tea enthusiasts, the delivered reality is dispiriting difference.

Best: Bojangles

When it comes to Southern grub, Bojangles' Legendary sweet tea talks the talk and walks the walk. The Rant in North Carolina calls it "the Cadillac of sweet tea," in Alabama says it's "sweet and strong and perfectly iced," even going as far as saying they'd "bathe in" the tea if that were socially acceptable. In short, Bojangles doesn't play around when it comes to sweet tea. The chain steeps its tea the good ol' fashioned way, tossing in a hefty dose of cane sugar, and voila! You've got yourself perfection in a glass. 

Folks aren't coy about their love for it, either. One fan didn't bother mincing words on TripAdvisor, saying Bojangles has "some of the best sweet tea around." Another enthusiast on The Gourmez wrote that the "recipe is the epitome of properly made sweet tea." Take a gander across the web, and you'll see that Bojangles sweet tea has won a whole lot of affection. Boasting robust flavor coupled with just the right amount of sweetness, this chain has got that sweet tea recipe down pat. No surprise, then, that it has managed to turn your everyday fast food tea sippers into die-hard fans. As they say, the proof's in the pudding ... or in this case, the sweet tea.

Worst: Culver's

When you're looking for a refreshing thirst-quencher, you'd think Culver's sweet tea could do the trick. But hold your horses, 'cause Culver's falls way short of the mark. Over on Reddit, some sweet tea aficionados ain't too happy about Culver's inconsistency. One person lamented that while the sweet tea used to be top-notch, "one time it wasn't even sweet at all."

Turns out, this lack of sweetness isn't a one-off. On Complaints Board, a user griped that their sweet tea came out unsweet, even though they used the thermos marked sweet. You'd assume that with a name like "Culver's sweet tea," you'd get somethin' worth sippin'. Instead, all you get is a bitter taste, a letdown of what could've been. One customer on Facebook noted that with Culver's stores popping up in the South, it's gotta step up its sweet tea game, quipping, "please send someone over to Chick-Fil-A and ask them to teach y'all how to make Sweet Tea." When a place like Culver's keeps serving up a lackluster brew, it's hard not to feel let down. And in the world of sweet tea, that's a boundary you just don't wanna cross.

Best: KFC

KFC isn't just hittin' home runs with its finger-lickin' good fried chicken; it is also fixin' up a sweet tea that has people wanting more. No joke, this brew's got some serious pizzazz. And here's the thing: KFC isn't just dumping sugar into a store-bought concoction. It's goin' all out, brewing it from scratch right in the kitchen, using real tea bags and cane sugar. The result? A satisfying, sweet, lip-smackin' delight that some folks swear is the best they've ever tasted. Juicer Advice calls it "the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing." At KFC, some customers like it so much that they order it by the bag. 

One reviewer over on TripAdvisor couldn't help but gush, calling KFC's sweet tea "some of the best." Another KFC convert on Reddit raved that its sweet tea was "so sweet and good," even begging for the recipe 'cause they just couldn't get enough. And isn't that what we all crave? A sweet tea with the ideal balance –- a harmonious blend of sweetness and tea in one frosty glass. In the realm of fast food sweet tea, KFC's taking home the gold. Just ask its ever-growing fan base.

Worst: Hardee's

Hardee's sweet tea has hit a snag with the treasured Southern staple of sweet tea. Reactions to Hardee's sweet tea aren't glowing, with many customers voicing their dismay about what they label as a lackluster and flavor-starved beverage. If you take a visit to TripAdvisor, you'll spot a reviewer from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, blowin' off some steam about their sweet tea, saying, "They need to instruct their employees on how to make their sweet tea. It was watery and needs to be stirred better." Another self-proclaimed Southern Texan on YouTube didn't hold back, dismissing Hardee's sweet tea as "not good enough" to sell by the gallon.

These responses paint a vivid picture of a drink that isn't quite meeting people's expectations. While opinions on taste may differ, the shared sentiments in these reviews seem to hint that Hardee's sweet tea hasn't quite nailed that harmony of genuine Southern charm and satisfying flavor. A well-prepared sweet tea can be a refreshing and delightful counterpart to a meal, but Hardee's version seems to falter in offering the depth and richness that make it a crowd-pleaser.

Best: McDonald's

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. We even conducted our very own reader survey here at Mashed to find the best fast food sweet tea, and McDonald's rose up as the top dog. 

More proof of McDonald's sweet tea skill comes from Family Rated, a platform that celebrates top-rated family products. In its search for the ideal sweet tea, a slew of reviewers had nothing but good things to say about McDonald's brew. One reviewer said it "reminds me of my grandmother's recipe. In the summer (it's) so refreshing." Another who claims to "eat sleep and breathe tea" said McDonald's sweet tea was the "closest to homemade" for them. All in all, for sweet tea fanatics who are always on the move and prioritize sweetness above all else, McDonald's offers a trusty and gratifying choice that consistently meets its reputation.

Worst: Burger King

When you think of popping into Burger King, savoring a glass of sweet tea probably isn't high on your agenda. If BK insiders are to be believed, there's a good reason that's the case. According to a not-so-subtle cry for help from an anonymous employee, the sweet tea at Burger King sounds more like a nightmare than a refreshing beverage. In a thread on Reddit, one employee said, "I die a little bit inside when a customer asks for iced tea. I know too much." The unnamed whistleblower cited a lack of cleanliness, saying the tea there looked and smelled "disgusting." It's enough to make anyone a little wary about ordering an iced tea from BK's menu.

Sweet tea, when brewed correctly, is an iconic thirst-quencher that's loved across the globe, and for Southerners, it's practically a given that their sweet tea needs to be perfect. So when a "certified Southerner" from Odyssey rated Burger King's sweet tea, all they had to say about it was, "Just no," which says a lot. All in all, it's a sad day when anyone falls short on delivering a great sweet tea, but especially so when it's a big-time player like Burger King. The patrons and the sweet tea deserve better. It's time to step up, BK!

Best: Wendy's

When you think of Wendy's, what comes to mind? A Frosty, a Baconator, and a variety of made-to-order menu items, right? But there's a hidden gem on its menu that doesn't always get the attention it deserves — sweet tea. One person on Pinterest called Wendy's sweet tea their "favorite." A Twitter user describes it as "soooooooo good" while another says they will go out of their way to get Wendy's sweet tea. In a TripAdvisor review for Wendy's restaurant, one customer noted the sweet tea is the best, saying when they're "in need of sweet tea, this is where you will have to look!" 

One commenter went out on a limb, saying, "Wendy's sweet tea is better than McDonald's. There I said it." So, what makes Wendy's sweet tea stand out? For starters, it's brewed fresh with tea bags. Then the perfect amount of sugar is added to create a harmonious balance between sweet and tangy tea flavors, according to some workers posting on a Reddit thread. If there's that kind of dedication to a consistent sweet tea, you know it has to be good.