AriZona’s Lightly Sweet Oak Brewed tea is an interesting concept as far as bottled tea drinks are concerned. Starting with black tea that has been steeped with oak chips, AriZona adds sugar, honey and maple sugar (it also contains ascorbic acid and sodium bisulfate). The product starts out with a very pleasant aroma that certainly shows sign of the oak. The taste of the tea, which has slight earthy note, is definitely better than your standard bottle of AriZona iced tea, but that seems to be the result of better ingredients (and perhaps process) rather than something specific to the presence of oak chips during the brewing process. You can, however, taste the maple sugar, which is definitely a nice touch. Also a plus is the fact that the product has a reasonable 75 calories and 20g of sugar per 20 oz. bottle. Packaging is a fully wrapped bottle that has a heavy emphasis on “OAK.” The word is mentioned twice and the entire backdrop of the bottle is an oak barrel. Our main criticisms with this approach are that AriZona is not visible on the front of the bottle and that it’s a bit too heavy on the oak to the point where we expected the flavor to be super oaky. Lastly, there’s the challenge of convincing the consumer to want to take a gamble on something that’s new to the ready-to-drink tea category. While making the AriZona brand better integrated would certainly help, we’re not quite sure why a consumer would switch to this over any other tea that they’re drinking. That’s something that AriZona will need to figure out. Otherwise we feel as though this product will have a very limited niche. Overall, it’s a unique and enjoyable tasting product, but the positioning feels like it needs work -- or a big budget behind it.
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