Pure Leaf Iced Tea—Good Enough for this Southern Girl?

Pure-leaf-sweet teaI am Southern, with a capital S.

I was born and raised in Tennessee. My mama taught me to make the Holy Trinity of summer cuisine: fried chicken, blackberry cobbler, and sweet tea. My blood type may very well be “sweet tea positive”.

A pitcher of iced tea could be on the table for lunch and dinner every day when it was hot out, and it needed to be good.

Making sweet iced tea is an art, passed down from mother to child. We are kind of like redneck geisha.

I am silently judgey of the iced tea in restaurants. You’d be surprised at the “down-home” restaurant chains that don’t get the tea right. Too weak, too sweet, sugar too grainy.

And you can tell when you aren’t in the South anymore by what happens in a restaurant. You ask the server if the iced tea is sweet. She points to sugar packets on the table. You slump and just get water.

Once in Illinois, they didn’t even serve iced tea. I asked for tea and they brought me hot water and a tea bag. In the summer.

When I had this opportunity to review the new Pure Leaf bottled iced tea from Lipton, I was prepared for disappointment. Frankly, I have never-not-once had really good bottled iced tea. The tea flavor in most bottled teas is weak or bitter. Or, it’s too sweet. Yes, that can happen.

I think Pure Leaf gets it right because they focus on the tea. They have a “tea master”. (Go ahead and make the Gatekeeper jokes in your head and get it out of your system. I’ll wait…)

Their Tea Master, John Cheetham, is specially trained in the art of blending different tea leaves to come up with a blend that brews the best color, body, and most importantly—taste.

pure-leaf-iced-teaI really think this shows in the Pure Leaf products. I was sent sample bottles of the sweet tea, unsweetened, and lemon iced teas.

I liked them all. I liked them all so much, I’ve been back to the grocery store to buy more with my own money.

I’ll still make my own sweet tea at home for the most part, just as a savings. But when I purchase tea from the store, Pure Leaf is my new go-to.

It’s sold in larger carafes, as in the picture on the right, and in single-serve bottles. I find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and drug store. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for it in convenience stores.

Pure Leaf is great in recipes, as well. If you check out the Pure Leaf website or Facebook page, they have amazing drinks and even main dish recipes incorporating their teas. One weekend (that’s when we eat meat) I want to try the tea-marinated pork chop recipe developed for Pure Leaf by The Feisty Foodie.

I made my own little drink, using two of my favorite warm-weather flavors: citrus and basil. Mixing tea and citrus juices reminds me of Sunday lunches at the country club in Gallatin, Tennessee, with my papa and granny. It wasn’t much of a country club, but the food sure was good.

Pure-leaf-citrus-basil-iced-teaCitrus Basil Sweet Tea

Chiffonade a fresh basil leaf and put it in the bottom of a cold iced tea glass. Add ice cubes. Pour four parts Pure Leaf tea of your choice and one part fresh orange juice over the ice. Swirl a little to blend. Garnish with another fresh basil leaf, if desired.

Use the same proportions to make a pitcher of tea, omitting the ice. You don’t want to dilute the tea in the pitcher.

Add fresh slices of orange and lime, if handy. Drink under a tree in a hammock.

Are you a sweet tea drinker? Have you seen Pure Leaf in stores yet? Leave me some comment love, if you have a minute.

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Lipton Pure Leaf. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating”

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  1. Hi Anne,

    I’m not Southern, actually as Yankee as Yankee can get hailing from New York BUT I LOVE iced tea in all forms, unsweetened, sweet, green but never had it with basil or .whatever… can’t wait to check this out! We met briefly at #BBCPhilly and so glad I came by to check you out more…great blog!

    • admin says:

      Hi, Deanna! It was so nice to touch base in Philly. I had such a good time at Bloggy Boot Camp.

      I had basil in lemonade last year when I was in Utah. It tasted like summer. I think citrus and basil go great together and taste really good in iced tea. The trouble is getting the flavor in the tea without having basil bits stuck to your lips!

  2. Wow, sound refreshing. In Malaysia, though it’s mostly sunny with balanced rain, we prefer hot tea. Maybe it’s the Chinese culture. Guess iced tea should be a sweet change 😉

    • admin says:

      I love hot tea also and always have a good selection on hand. I’m drinking orange-ginger infused hot tea right now!

      Sweet tea is just one of those pleasures of summertime, although we drink it cold year-round here, like a soft drink.

  3. Happy SITS day!

  4. This looks great! I found you through the SITS Girls, and I love your blog!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Halle! I love the SITS Girls and hope to get around to everyone’s blog.

  5. I’ve lived in Illinois my whole life, and yes, there is no such thing as sweet tea here! Maybe that’s why I don’t like it. My mom used to make the best sun tea, but we wouldn’t dream of putting sugar in it!

    Congrats on your SITS day!

  6. Hi Anne, I too am a sweet tea drinker, specialist. My mom was from the south, and I learned how to make it from her. I’m going to try Pure Leaf, as I don’t have the time to make it like I used to. Visiting from SITS!

  7. Happy belated (although technically still Thursday so not that late) SITS day. I must say, I do not like American iced tea as it’s “iced” tea. But maybe I have never had real sweet iced tea. If you make it, I would be willing to try it again.


  8. Eve Bennett says:

    I bought my first “Pure Leaf” bottled tea today and it is wonderful. The taste is just homemade. I live in Buffalo, NY and I would like to know where I can buy {Pure Leaf in bulk. I really love Pure Leaf.

    Thank you.

    • admin says:

      Hey, Eve! I contacted the company through their Facebook page. When I hear something or can get you in touch with them, I’ll let you know.

      I’m really glad you liked something I recommend. It is just good stuff!

  9. Doug E says:

    This tastes EXACTLY like sun tea with sugar. The BEST pre packaged sweet tea hands down. It is $2 a small bottle but worth it. I cant find it on lipton’s website. Please add links to buy bulk or big bottles online.

    • Pure Leaf is a collaboration between PepsiCo and Lipton. PepsiCo is the leader. I just discovered this stuff 2 days ago and cannot get enough of it!

  10. Daddy Bob says:

    I’m from Tennessee too but am half yankee. Guess.that’s why I don’t drink sweet tea. Love unsweet and hot tea. But your various blends sounded so good I’m headed to the store. Did you know Liptons started advertising? The very first.

  11. Nola says:

    I love your post! I came across it while searching for info on Pure Leaf. Had to smile when I you mentioned ordering tea and they brought you hot tea. Years ago I, too was “up north” and simply ordered “tea” (as I do here in the South). The waitress looked at me blankly and said “hot or cold”. I looked at her blankly and replies in a tone that screamed “isn’t it obvious” “ICED” (just in case “iced” was different from “cold”). Of course, when it arrived at the table, it wasn’t even sweet. Poor yankee, didn’t even know how to make tea! Tsk, tsk.
    Gotta try the citrus basil, sounds delish. Living so near Mexico, it’s herbs and spices flavor everything that comes from my kitchen, so I came up with Cilantro Iced Tea. If you are in the group of people that LOVE (can’t get enough) cilantro, give it a try. Brew tea, add agave nectar (another nod to my neighbors in Mexico) and crushed cilantro to taste. Different, but what a kick!
    Take care and keep on posting…

    • admin says:

      Thanks for such a nice comment, Nola!
      I’ll make the cilantro iced tea for my husband. He loves it.
      I just happen to have agave nectar on hand.

  12. brandy. says:

    i`m not quite sure how old this post is because i didn`t see a date or anything, but i came across this post by searching pure life. i recently bought some and wanted to see what others thought of it. i currently live in chicagoland, but i`m from georgia, so i can totally relate with everything you`ve said. i`m very picky about my sweet tea, even when i ordered it in georgia. it had to be brewed, not instant.

    the same goes for up here. they finally have a chick-fil-a, and in my opinion, they have great sweet tea! but other places, not so much. you get it iced and have to add your own table sugar in it. yuck!

    anyhow, off topic, but my hubby and i like the pure leaf. it tastes a little instant to me, but i think that it is refreshing and has a nice smooth taste to it. great post! i`m happy to see others know what i mean when i get picky about the sweet tea these yankee`s try to make! (;

  13. Jennifer says:

    I am from North Carolina but I recently moved to New York and I have been looking for a good sweet tea for 3 years!!!! Until I finally came across this tea. My fiance bought me a bottle and I fell in love with this tea! It is so refreshing and natural tasting to me and also not too sweet either like I used to drink back home! I’m just so excited to find a tea I love and no more Mcdonald’s tea or eating my sugar in my tea lol!!!

    • admin says:

      It’s like the perfect sweetness. I wish it were easier to find. It’s not in my Food Lion or Kroger. I have to buy it in a convenience store.

  14. Hmm, not sure where you were in IL ma’am, but everywhere I eat has iced tea on the menu, always.

  15. Kim says:

    I’m just passing through this site. Thought I’d some info. I live in Utah. My wife insists on PURE LEAF extra sweet tea. I buy it at Smith’s or Wallmart. If you like sweet tea, try the extra sweet. You’ll love it.

  16. where can I buy your tea in the Houston area. I actually live in Liberty, TX. zip code 77575 Shop at Walmart, Brookshire Brothers, and H.E.B. and Kroger in a nearby town.

  17. Leah says:

    If I’m not mistaken the these tea leaves are from China? Why would you drink anything that is grown in China?

  18. ging says:

    i tried purebleaf tea last week and its ok and prolly wouldve bought it again but it has mold issues! you read it right .. Mold! .I opened a bottle of this but only took a sip, put the lid back on and forgot all about it in my locker for 2days( its about 70F at work all day) ! i came back to work monday and found a few mold floating inside.. yuck.

  19. H. Armour says:

    I was able to purchased it at Jewel Osco Grocery store, but for some reason they are discontinuing it. The best homemade tea with lemon since making it at home. They gave a free substitute it was awful.

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