Philly Beer

Review: Wawa Shore Tea is the drink everyone at your beach party will agree on

The biggest flaw might be that it’s too easy to drink.

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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Whether you’re a diehard fan or just there for convenience’s sake, Wawa stores have something for everyone. The same could be said of the company’s newest boozy drink.

Wawa partnered with South Jersey’s Cape May Brewing Co. to create Shore Tea, which tastes like a childhood fave leveled up a notch and taken on vacation. The peach-flavored hard tea is a limited release, sold in 12-oz. cans throughout the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia regions.

Craft beer fans will appreciate Shore Tea’s rich flavor. Hard seltzer fans will like that it’s not beer. Iced tea fans, once they get past the bubbles, will be in heaven.

There is a bit of controversy around it: A former brewery owner in Monmouth County, N.J., is suing for trademark infringement, saying Cape May Brewing this spring rejected his pitch for a similar product. But there’s no doubt the drink fits into Wawa’s wheelhouse. The chain stocks nearly two dozen kinds of house-branded (nonalcoholic) iced tea drinks, and peach is a longtime customer favorite. Then there’s the play on words: a “Shorti” is the smallest size of Wawa hoagie you can order; “Shore Tea” is the first hard tea to wear the company logo.

Wawa jumped into the craft beer market in 2018, when it released a coffee stout in collaboration with Delaware County’s 2SP Brewing. A few other coffee beers followed, and last summer it made a move toward more fruity liquids with a strawberry shandy, aka beer mixed with lemonade. This summer, the beer part is out of the picture entirely.

That follows a general trend. Hard seltzers are no longer exploding in popularity faster than industry trackers can keep up — because they’re already super popular. Last year they made up around 20% of the U.S. “beer” market. And hard tea is well-known as a fave for Philly drinkers specifically; the city apparently consumes more Twisted Tea Light than any other in the nation.

But Shore Tea isn’t your standard non-beer sipper. The first clue comes if you pour it into a glass and see it’s not a wimpy liquid: its color is deep chestnut.

Even then, you might be surprised by how flavorful it is.

Instead of tasting White Claw-insipid, like a Crystal Light powder pack swirled with a vodka soda, or hitting your tongue with the citric acid tang of other hard teas, the drink Cape May Brewing crafted is full-bodied. It’s not heavy — drinking the lightly carbonated liquid is more refreshing than just about any beer — but it is flavorful.

There’s no actual peach juice in the mix, per the release announcing the collab, but there are tea solids, and natural flavors. In fact, aside from the alcohol, which comes from fermented cane sugar, the ingredient list of Shore Tea appears nearly identical to that of regular Wawa Peach Iced Teach, except the latter has preservatives.

Fans of classic sweet tea might be disappointed, because Shore Tea isn’t quite as sugary as that Southern summer refresher. It is sweet enough to be very easy to drink — there are 25 grams of sugar in each can, per the nutrition facts printed on the label.

The sugary taste doesn’t linger, however. Once you tilt back your head and get a mouthful, the drink pings your tongue with light acidity. After a whole can, you’ll have the scratchy feeling at the back of your throat familiar to anyone who drinks a lot of regular bottled peach iced tea. Overall, it’s so smooth it’s hard to remember it clocks in at 4.5% ABV, about the same as a Miller High Life.

Other details you might want to know: there’s no gluten, per Cape May Brewing Co., which also makes a line of gluten-free seltzers in various flavors.

Where can you get Shore Tea? It hasn’t been easy to find, but the cans are hard to miss, with a label that shows the Cape May Lighthouse next to an ocean colored an idyllic Bahamas teal. Several area Wawa locations with liquor licenses are reportedly stocking it, including the Frankford and Penrose Avenue outposts in Philadelphia proper.

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