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Good if you like mass-produced sweet tea brands.

Great Value Sweet Tea Drink Mix Sticks (Walmart)

Here’s a flavor I’d been looking for in drink mixes for quite a while: sweet tea. While I’m aware there are a few powdered tea sticks on the market, most of them add another flavor, like lemon. Or peach. This is one of the first – if not thee first – straight-up tea flavors I’ve come across. Is it offered nationwide, or just here because we’re in a southern store? I’m not sure, and I suppose I don’t really care.

Each 10-count comse in at a rather high $2.09. This is even higher than the same products when we shopped in the same store a couple months ago. They were still under $2 back then. Despite the increase, they’re still cheaper than other store brands, which have all been raised exponentially within the last few months. Apparently, the days of $1.29 drink mix sticks are all gone. It feels like the end of an era.

The powder turns water a dark shade of brown. It’s an acceptable color, but a little too dark to be accurate. The flavor is…weak? Nonexistent? It doesn’t really “pop out” on the tastebuds the way a good sweet tea does. Okay…now I get it. This is going for the taste of national brand pre-bottled sweet teas. And not the good ones: We’re talking the kind found in soda fountains and “metal tea canisters’ the nation over. Or the name brand tea powder in the large metal canisters. I must say it does a pretty decent job of emulating that type of flavor. I must also say that I’m not really into that type of taste.

Now I’ve had enough drink mixes to naturally taper my expectations. I wasn’t expecting a homemade, fresh-brewed taste. That would just be ridiculous. But let’s be real here: There are a million different things you can do with sweet tea. It’s a very broad category. It’s not attempting to emulate something specific like “Coke” which can only taste one way in order to be accurate. I was hoping Great Value would think outside the box, and try to go in a “realistic” direction. Hell, even if it bombed, I would have had more respect for it. 

And no, my rant/mansplanation is not over yet. Other drink mixes have proven that it’s possible to get a somewhat accurate “brewed” taste. Kroger’s Peach Tea actually has the tea flavor almost front and center. Sure, the peach is pretty artificial and you will fool no one into thinking it’s homemade, but it serves as proof it’s possible to make something better than…this. Something that’s closer to “real” tea. And before I get jumped on for dismissing all store-bought teas, I happen to love Milo’s. It tastes pretty authentic, without the cloying sugary sweetness or “stale” tea taste of other brands. There are a lot of different avenues Great Value could have taken, and they opted to go for the safe road always traveled.

While the aforementioned price hike is largely disappointing, let’s break it down a little bit. Each of these packages contain 10 individual drink mixes. That works out to about $.21 per stick. While that’s much higher than they were a year ago, that’s still huge savings over buying multi-pack bottles of the name brand beverage. And the comparison is somewhat apples-to-apples, as those bottles are also 16.9 oz. (the same size of the waters you’re supposed to blend these into). That amounts to some pretty solid savings for those who typically purchase the pre-packaged stuff.

In the end, I suppose I got what I should have expected. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be disappointed. And that doesn’t mean Great Value couldn’t have had higher aspirations.

Overall: 4/10. A huge disappointment for me, although others may not be so let down. This emulates name brand powders and pre-bottled sweet teas pretty well. However, I find most store-bought sweet teas largely…disgusting. This powdered version has quite a bit of sweetness, with the weak taste of stale tea buried in the background. It’s a more “muted” taste that doesn’t strike the tastebuds the way a tea product should. The price – $2.09 per 10 ct. package – is much higher than they were a year ago, but still cheaper than multi-pack bottles of name brand teas. For those into the artificial teas – and there are clearly many – this should tickle your fancy for a reasonable price. For those into more accurate representations, well…it’s back to the drawing board.

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