About damn time.
You know my quest for ready-to-drink tea. You've seen my plight. The market today is inundated with high-fructose corn syrup-laden abominations to the word "tea". They contain enough of that HFCS to knock out a mule. You can't taste the tea, which is probably a good thing considering the quality of tea they use. And even if they do use sugar (like Gold Peak tea), its so much that it's overbearingly sweet. And expensive. My school sells them for $2.59 a bottle. $2.59. Two of those and I could buy a cheap Arturo Fuente cigar. Nothing like gauging.
But, I have found the Holy Grail of RTD beverages. Today I attended the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival as press (more on this later). Among the smorgasbord of tea and coffee available was a simple stand in the middle of a room. It had a clean white tablecloth on it with nothing but a sign and several bottles of tea. A few pamphlets, true, but the bottles were the focus. The name was Montauk Beverage Works and they were sampling their first product on the market. The guy working was a hell of a nice guy. I think it was the owner, actually, who, according to their website, must have carted everything to that show in the back of a Hyundai Tuscon. He graciously gave me a bottle of his tea to review.
And I'm gonna review the hell out of it.
Here it is:
It's simple and clean. Brown and yellow, with a hand-drawn quality to the artwork and lettering. It tells the story of the founder, the nutrition info, what it is, and what it's called. No fancy, gimmicky label. It doesn't need it. The tea inside speaks for itself.
My favorite sweetener is agave nectar. If you've read about me waxing nostalgic about maple sap, you'll know how much I love it. Agave nectar tastes exactly like that sticky maple taffy of my youth, only in liquid form. It's the best stuff ever. When I saw that Montauk black tea was sweetened with it, I nearly cried. Not just sweetened with natural product, but with my favorite sweetener. Joyyyyyyyyy!
The taste is stellar. It's not sweet, no. It's pleasantly tinged with sweetener. The black tea they use is high quality and it shows through the beverage. It's not some factory sweepings that they brewed up and laced with corn-based death. It's "a special blend of nilgiri and ceylon" according to the bottle and I'd agree. Definitely not an Indian or Chinese black because they definitely wouldn't work in this instance. The lemon-grass provides this faint memory of citrus that permeates the drink, which I like over those puckering bastards where all you get is fake lemon and fake sugar from the drink. The finish, as I said, is lightly sweet with agave nectar which gives a caramel and malt like finish.
It's so good.
This tea is great. I want more. No, scratch that, I need more. I want it in every damn store, restaurant, and deli. I would drink it constantly and at only 80 calories a bottle, it's not like that's too bad of a thing. I can't wait to see more offerings from this company. I want them to succeed in every way. Is this good tea? No. Good is to generic of a word. This is drop-dead excellent tea. I'd buy it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, as the name suggests, he's starting in Montauk and it hasn't gotten very far from there. You want a bottle? Convince a local store to start buying cases of it. You'd better tell them to get more than one case because you'll want one of your own after you drink a bottle.