McDonald’s: Worst Hot Tea Sold in America?

American Restaurant Tea, Part 1

McDonald's cup of hot tea.

In my opinion, this is some of the worst tea you will ever have. Please note that this is a completely different product than the iced tea they serve (or even worse, their "sweet tea" iced tea). This review has nothing to do with their iced tea.
Tea particles close-up photo.

Why do I keep doing this to myself? Once in a while, in a hurry, I order a hot tea from McDonald's. This is what being a tea drinker in the USA can drive you to at times. In a country filled with horrible (or absent) hot tea options, this is one of the worst.

Summary Review Table
Category Result
Overall Rating (1-5) 1 - Technically tea, and technically hot
Presentation (1-5) 1 - The cup is a nice enough fast food thermal cup with a sipping spout. The cup is the best part of the McTea experience. I have generally been handed a cup of steaming water and a tea bag. They do not put the bag in the cup for you first; you are left to manage this in the car yourself. I have generally not been asked if I want cream or sugar, even by quite friendly & cheerful staff.
Dry Scent (1-5) 1 - Quite faint and musty, similar to old cardboard
Brewed Scent (1-5) 1 - Faintly smells of tea
Brewed Color (1-5) 1 - Initially quite light, then very dark after a few minutes.
Taste Summary (1-5) 1 - Tastes rather like it smells; musty cardboard with some bitterness and a slight undertone of "tea flavour".

On the one hand, you may find yourself tempted to give McDonald's a pass, since they are usually chosen for speed and economy, rather than taste. You might ask yourself what else could be expected from an American fast food chain. Watch for upcoming American Restaurant Tea Reviews to see. I promise you: they are not all this bad.

The worst part: The taste. The best part: If you are buying a value meal, they only add 20 cents to the price for the added hot tea.