“Sweet tea is the quintessential Southern beverage, and it just fits who we are. It’s evolved into this renowned beverage that we’re known for. The inspiration was that everyone drinks sweet tea in the South, and it made a lot of sense for us. It fits our concept perfectly.

“We prefer to serve our tea sweet, and it is black tea. It is served sweet, but it has a distinct, robust flavor. The technical term is astringency, but that just means that it tastes like tea. It’s full-flavored; it’s full-bodied. You definitely know you’re drinking iced tea.

“The care we take in sourcing it and the care we take in making it, sweetening it, and holding it in our restaurants is what sets us apart from other brands. We are very dedicated to tea, so we want to make sure that every glass is the perfect glass, and that the last sip is as good as the first.

The Players:

• Black tea

• Filtered water

• Ice

• Lemon

“Just about anything on our menu pairs with it really well—there are a couple things on our menu that are distinctly sweet, so don’t go sweet on sweet. My favorite pairing is probably the McAlister’s Club and Sweet Tea because there are so many different flavors in that combination. It’s got savory, salty, and sweet, so it pairs really well with the sweetness of the tea.

“It excites me to be able to offer guests a different flavor than just sweet black tea. We’ve introduced green tea, so you can add a variety of flavors to that. My favorite flavor of tea is probably peach tea. Our tea is a good base to introduce flavors to our guests.”

—Will Eudy

Corporate Executive Chef, McAlister’s Deli

Beverage, Fast Casual, Fast Food, Menu Innovations, Story