American Iced Tea: I Hate You
A piece from my miniature food collection, showing Hong Kong iced tea as it ought to be served.
There is only one correct way* to serve iced tea: tea, ice (preferably crushed), lemon slices, a long-handled spoon to smush the lemon slices, and an accompanying juglet of simple syrup to sweeten (or not sweeten) as desired. Everyone in southeast Asia accepts this.
There are, by contrast, a handful of incorrect ways to serve iced tea, all of which the United States of America has thoroughly mastered. These include:
1. No lemon. What is wrong with you?
2. No simple syrup. Don’t roll your eyes and hand me the Splenda. Splenda isn’t some magical form of sugar that miraculously dissolves in cold liquid–it’s a sugar substitute, and it tastes like one. If you can’t make a solution of equal parts water and sugar, it’s time to get out of the caffeinated beverage business. (This goes for iced coffee purveyors, too.)
3. Terrifying amounts of simple syrup, a.k.a. “sweet tea.” I am trying to cool down, not get high. Who came up with this stuff? It hurts my mouth.
4. Uncaffeinated herbal tea. I don’t care how many fruits it invokes on the teabag, this is colored water.
5. Out of a can. It’s not that this stuff is awful, though it kind of is–I’m just not sure it’s tea.
N.B.: special dispensation for the Very Good Thing that is the Arnold Palmer.
*This is not strictly true, since there is also iced milk tea, but that’s a whole other thing.