One of our favorite things about living in Arizona, especially in the summer, is the iced tea. The South has its cavity-causing sweet tea, but here in the Southwest, we have our unsweetened flavored tea. Lucky us. (And grab some sugar, if you must.) Here is a list of some the best places around the Valley to get freshly brewed iced tea.
AJ's Fine Foods Despite being known for its pricey gourmet grocery, AJ's does sell a few items that won't completely empty your wallet. Surprisingly, AJ's sells iced tea at a very reasonable price: $1.39 plus tax for a 32 oz. large. With 11 Valley locations, it's also convenient. And AJ's also offers a large selection of the best teas China Mist has to offer. Rather than bombard the tea with exotic flavors, China Mist teas subtly blends the tea with hints of fruit to smoothly mix the two. Don't worry about if you're a little picky, China Mist's flavors use flavors from all over the fruit spectrum. Not a fan of traditional black or green tea? Try the sweeter black passion fruit or the prickly pear. Don't want caffeine? There are decaf or caffeine free choices. I'm sure you'll find something to your liking. Our favorite: passion fruit. Get it with a slice of orange.
Wildflower Bread Company Most places purchase their tea with a vendor, which chooses the blend, but not Wildflower. Both the guava-green tea and the passion fruit with strawberry are this bakery's own custom blend. The guava-green adds a bit of sweetness to the green tea, while the strawberry combined with the passionfruit produces a more intense brew. Stop in for a loaf of bread, a muffin or a sandwich, and grab a tea to go with it. Or stay a while: there are plenty of tables at any of the nine locations around the Valley.
Coffee Plantation It was only a few years ago that Coffee Plantation had locations all over the metro Phoenix area; now, there is just one, near Scottsdale Rd. and Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale. Luckily, the iced tea is as good as ever. The mellow atmosphere is a great place to hang out with friends or do some work done. While this is a coffee shop, the iced tea is where its at. The green-mango iced tea is blended with the freshest ingredients and brewed hot and poured over ice. Normally in tea, a hint of fruit is only detected, but this drink heavily relies on the sweet-tasting mango to be refreshing. And this iced tea may just be the best tea in the Valley, so help keep the last plantation outpost alive.
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Souvia Tea Room Looking for a large selection of teas? Moon Valley's Souvia Tea has nearly 140 types. While most places only serve the traditional iced black or green tea, Souvia's a bit more adventurous with their flavors. Souvia's teas come from all over the world, and include not only black and green teas, but also oolong, herbals, and botanicals. Souvia features a unique tea experience with its different varieties of tea as well as classes in brewing and enjoying tea. On my most recent trip to Souvia, I chose the exotic Rooibos spiced with carrot and orange peel. The orange colored beverage managed to mix a tangy orange with bitter carrot to make an oddly refreshing tea. The tearoom already has two teas freshly brewed and iced, but if those don't tickle your fancy, feel free to browse the store and find the right tea for you, though it may take quite some time.
There's a good chance that if you are a healthy eater, you have probably eaten at Pita Jungle. We're not so into healthy -- but we go to Pita Jungle just for the iced tea. This freshly brews some of the best that Passport has to offer. There is the always tasty and smooth black passion fruit or for those who have more of a sweet-tooth Pita also serves a decaffeinated hibiscus tea with a cool berry flavor and strawberry-kiwi green tea. And there is probably a location near you, with locations in just about every part of the Valley.