Hard tea, hard lemonade, hard coffee — the dizzying number of products consumers can choose from has become, well, hard to keep track of. But one thing is certain: Spiked tea is enjoying its moment. In fact, hard tea is so popular that it has left its competitors in the dust, becoming the top hard seltzer alternative with $582 million in sales in 2020 alone.
Twisted Tea, the OG of hard tea, and its much younger sibling Truly Iced Tea, are without a doubt helping to fuel the growing hard tea craze. Whether you prefer to get your caffeinated fix in a classically sweet Southern iced tea or with some fruity fizz, Twisted and Truly have you covered. Keep reading to learn more about how these two hard teas stack up.
Twisted Tea and Truly are both produced by the mega-brand Boston Beer Company, but were launched 20 years apart. Twisted Tea Original debuted in 2001, long before the hard seltzer craze was even a thing.
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
Truly first appeared on the scene in 2016, initially named “Truly Spiked and Sparkling.” Three years later, Truly changed its moniker to include “Hard Seltzer,” likely a strategic move to remain competitive in the growing category. Following the successful launch of its hard lemonade in 2020, Truly welcomed its first round of attractive gold-packaged hard teas into the market in early 2021.
Twisted Tea Original (nicknamed “Twea”) is made with black tea and a touch of lemon. The company has since released several other versions, including Twisted Tea Light (“Twea Light,”) and five fruit flavors. Twisted Tea Half & Half — a mix of lemonade and tea, is essentially a boozy Arnold Palmer.
So far, Truly offers just four tea flavors: lemon, peach, raspberry, and strawberry.
Both brands are brewed with real tea, but are differentiated by alcohol source. Truly’s booze comes from fermented cane sugar, whereas Twisted Tea comes from malted barley. And while both products come in at 5 percent ABV (Twisted Light is 4 percent ABV), only Truly is carbonated. Twisted Tea therefore is similar to an actual spiked sweet tea, while Truly is more of a hard seltzer and sweet tea hybrid.
If you’re counting calories, Truly wins with just 1 gram of sugar and 100 calories in a 12-ounce can. Twisted’s numbers range depending on the product. Twisted’s Original contains approximately 194 calories and a whopping 23 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving, while Twisted Tea Light has 6.2 grams of sugar and 109 calories in the same serving size.
What the Pros Think
VinePair’s tasting panel praised Twisted Tea Original for being “satisfyingly sweet, with a welcome hint of citrus,” while its “simplicity, and … lack of bubbles” added to its drinkability. The product secured fourth place on VinePair’s 15 Best Hard Tea Flavors of 2021, proving that classics never go out of style.
Truly’s lineup was also reviewed by VinePair, with two flavors coming out on top. With a rating of 91 out of 100, Truly’s Lemon Tea edged out the other three, showing a “subtle seasoning of lemon [that] adds balance and energy.” Its Raspberry Tea was another favorite, appreciated for its concentrated flavors and “attractive floral finish.”