Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea: A Southern Staple Gets an Alcoholic Twist
Sweet tea is a staple beverage of the American South. The sugary, chilled tea quenches thirst and cools down on hot summer days. Bojangles, a popular fast food chain based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is known for its signature sweet tea. Now, the company has put a new spin on its famous tea by introducing Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea.
A Brief History of Bojangles
Bojangles was founded in 1977 by Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas. Their goal was to create a fast-food restaurant that specialized in fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits. The first location opened in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In the 1980s, Bojangles began selling iced tea at its restaurants. The tea was formulated to be extra sweet and became immensely popular across the South. Today, Bojangles serves more than a gallon of iced tea per customer per year.
Over the decades, Bojangles has continued expanding across the Southeastern United States. It now has over 750 locations in more than 15 states.
The Creation of Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea
In 2021, Bojangles announced it would partner with the Birmingham, Alabama-based brewery Good People Brewing to produce an alcoholic version of its tea. This was the first time that Bojangles allowed its signature tea to be used in another product.
The companies worked together to create the ideal recipe that matched the sweetness and flavor of the original Bojangles tea. They settled on a 5% alcohol by volume beverage that contains cane sugar and a blend of orange pekoe and black teas.
Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea was designed to provide the great tea taste that customers love while also offering new drinking occasions. With its subtle malt flavor and carbonated finish, it is ideal for enjoying chilled on a hot day.
Flavors and Tasting Notes
The first thing you’ll notice when cracking open a can of Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea is the aroma. It emanates the familiar comforting scent of fresh brewed tea. The tea’s bright copper color is another nod to classic Bojangles iced tea.
Taking a first sip, you get a burst of sugary sweetness reminiscent of the traditional tea but with a fizzy mouthfeel from the carbonation. The orange pekoe and black tea blend provides a smooth, slightly tannic tea base.
Subtle malty notes come through from the alcohol fermentation process. But the tea still takes center stage in the flavor profile. There is a sweet tea tartness and no bitter alcoholic aftertaste. The finish is crisp and effervescent.
Overall, Bojangles nailed the taste by creating a hard tea that tastes like their regular tea, just with alcohol. The 5% ABV provides a bit of a kick while still allowing the tea flavors to shine.
Best Serving Methods
While Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea is ready-to-drink straight from the can, there are a few ways to enhance the experience.
Serving it over ice maximizes refreshment on a scorching day. The cold temperatures allow the carbonation to sparkle. And the ice dilutes the sweetness slightly.
For a mixed drink, you can add a shot of vodka or rum to create a Long Island iced tea-inspired cocktail. The tea’s flavors also work well with whiskey, tequila or gin.
Or blend Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea with lemonade or fruit juice for a unique take on a shandy. Try it with cranberry juice for a twist on a Red Eye.
Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea makes a delicious cooking ingredient too. Use it to make glazes for chicken or pork. You can also incorporate it into barbecue sauces, pancake batters and other recipes that traditionally use iced tea.
One 12-ounce can of Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea contains:
- Calories: 165
- Carbs: 40 grams (34 grams sugar)
- No fat, protein or fiber
The high sugar content comes from the large amount of sugar added when brewing the tea to make it authentically sweet like Bojangles iced tea.
The tea has roughly the same number of calories and grams of carbohydrates as a can of soda. So while it packs a sweet punch, the tea itself provides minimal nutritional value.
Where to Buy Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea
When Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea first launched in 2021, it was only available at Bojangles restaurants in select test markets.
In early 2022, Bojangles announced the product would roll out to stores for off-premise sales. You can now find Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea at major grocery chains in states where the tea is distributed. This includes Harris Teeter, Publix, Kroger, Walmart and Food Lion.
Check the beer and seltzer aisle at your local grocery store to see if they carry Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea. If not, ask about placing a special order.
The product is currently only available in states where Bojangles operates restaurants:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Bojangles is actively working to expand distribution to additional markets so more customers can enjoy this unique tea.
Based on reviews, Bojangles fans seem thrilled with Hard Sweet Tea. The product currently has a 4 out of 5 star rating on the Bojangles website based on over 100 reviews.
Customers say it lives up to the Bojangles tea taste while providing a new way to experience the signature flavor. Many love how drinkable it is compared to heavier beers.
Some do warn that the sweetness can become cloying after a few cans. But overall, the carbonated alcoholic tea gets rave reviews from loyal Bojangles patrons.
Many comment that they’d love to see even more flavors like raspberry or peach tea. There’s clearly a big demand for tea-based hard seltzers and beers.
Pairings with Food
A main appeal of Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea is that it pairs deliciously with the chain’s famous Southern comfort food.
Sipping the fizzy tea perfectly complements an order of Bojangles chicken supremes, Cajun filets or dirty rice. It also enhances salty snacks like Bo-Tato Rounds and Bojangles’ Cheddar Bo biscuits.
Beyond Bojangles fare, the tea is versatile enough to drink with a wide variety of cuisines. It works well with fried seafood, burgers, barbecue and spicy foods that can stand up to the sweetness.
Some suggested food pairings include:
- Fried chicken
- Hot wings
- Popcorn shrimp
The tea’s bold flavors complement the seasonings and spices found in these savory dishes.
Comparison to Other Hard Teas
Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea was one of the first major restaurant chains to offer an alcoholic tea. But it has helped kick off a wave of new boozy tea products from competitors.
One similar option is Chick-fil-A Hard Peach Tea released in 2022. It is also a carbonated alcoholic tea made in partnership with a brewery.
The peach tea has a puree flavor as opposed to brewed tea. And it is less sweet than Bojangles’ version. But it provides a comparable fruit-infused, fizzy tea drinking experience.
McDonald’s also jumped into the market with McCafé Hard Iced Tea in 2022. It is lemon flavored and less sugary. However, it lacks the authentic tea shop flavor of Bojangles’ brewed tea recipe.
There are some popular national hard tea brands like Twisted Tea and Long Drink. But none quite replicate the signature flavors of Bojangles tea the way the restaurant’s own Hard Sweet Tea does.
Bojangles struck the right balance of carbonation and sweet tea flavor. The subtle malted alcohol pairs harmoniously with tea rather than overpowering it. This has set the bar high for other restaurants looking to turn their teas into hard seltzers.
Is Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea Worth It?
If you love the famous tea from Bojangles, then their new alcoholic version is definitely worth trying. It finds the sweet spot between capturing the authentic tea flavors and creating a refreshing hard seltzer.
Some may find it overly sweet or artificial tasting. But compared to major national brands, Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea uses higher quality tea and natural sugars.
The portability of cans makes them ideal for tailgates, beach trips and other outdoor activities. They provide a tasty alternative to beer or wine coolers.
Based on popularity so far, Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea looks to be much more than just a gimmick. It’s a craveable new spin on the classic Southern tea that fans can’t get enough of.
Bojangles Hard Sweet Tea brings the chain’s famous sweet tea to a whole new drinking experience. The alcoholic tea retains the signature flavors while carbonating and fermenting it into a refreshing hard seltzer.
Reviews are positive for this inventive product that no other restaurants have truly matched yet. It provides the perfect drink to pair with Bojangles’ fixin’s. And it is easy enough sipping to enjoy all day.
While the distribution is still limited, Bojangles looks to be expanding it rapidly. More iced tea lovers will soon get to pop open a can of this beloved tea with a boozy kick.