Monday, July 28, 2014

Rant: Iced Tea Tragedy

During the summer, I drink fresh brewed, unsweetened iced tea every day. It is refreshing, thirst-quenching and doesn't have the sugar content of sodas and other such drinks. In addition, it is cheap, roughly 3 cents a serving if made at home. I don't stop drinking iced tea when the seasons change. I continue drinking it daily through fall, winter and spring. And I am far from alone in my love for iced tea.

Iced tea was invented in the U.S., likely sometime during the 1800s in the South. There is a legend that iced tea was created in 1904, during the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, by an Englishman Richard Blechynden. However, there is clear evidence iced tea existed before 1904, so Richard may be considered more the popularizer of iced tea rather than the actual inventor.

According to the Tea Association of the USA, the wholesale value of the U.S. tea industry is over $10 Billion and Americans annually consume over 3.6 Billion gallons of tea. Each day, over half the U.S. population drinks tea, though people in the South and Northeast consume the most. What may surprise you is that 85% of the tea consumed in America is iced. That statistic shows the huge popularity of iced tea, but I think numerous restaurants are ignorant of this simple fact.

Right now, you can find iced tea at almost any restaurant, though it is not always fresh brewed. With the low cost of making fresh brewed iced tea, more restaurants should be making it themselves, rather than pouring it from some soda gun. The junk that comes from soda guns usually tastes bad, nowhere near as good as fresh brewed. I'd rather drink water than the iced tea from those soda guns. You do a disservice to your guests if your iced tea is poured from a soda gun.

My biggest problem will come after Labor Day, when summer is over. At that time, a number of restaurants begin taking iced tea off their menus, claiming it is only a summer drink. What a crock! Iced tea is a year-round beverage, and with the vast amount of people who enjoy it, restaurants need to pay attention and keep it on their menus all the time. They are losing money by taking it off their menus. These same places will keep ice cream and frozen shakes on their menus, so why not iced tea too?

Just because it is winter, it doesn't mean you should only serve hot beverages. These restaurants will still serve cold soda, but not everyone wants something carbonated. And they want something with more flavor than water. The popularity of iced tea should not be underestimated. Restaurants, pay attention and keep serving iced tea year round. Iced tea is cheap and easy to make so you have no excuses.