Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweetened or Unsweetened?

We're starting to think there's a special day associated with practically everything out there. Donut Day, Chocolate Ice Cream Day and now Iced Tea Day. But hey, we like all three so why not celebrate?!

How do you take yours, sweetened or unsweetened?
Here in Seattle, the iced tea comes to the table automatically unsweetened, but I'd say more than half of the population adds some type of sweetener at the table, Splenda being quite popular in our 'all-natural' loving city.

I've been to Virginia and the sweet tea was phenomenal. In fact, everyone but my Seattle-transplanted girlfriend ordered it that way. It was funny to hear her actually have to ask for her tea to be plain, unsweetened.

In fact at dinner with family last week we had the "sweetener" conversation and it dawned on me just how particular people are about their tea. My auntie and grandma, both from California, insist on using saccharin. My mom has to have NutraSweet because the Splenda makes her break out in hives. Myself? Well, I'm a naturalist. I use sugar. Raw sugar to be specific. Even white refined sugar tastes like chemicals to me now. (As I sit here and eat Lay's potato chips. HA!)

We also spoke about the Paradise iced tea craze that spread around Seattle in the 1990's. Remember that? Not sure if it was as popular around other parts of the country but you either loved it or you didn't and most restaurants usually carried only one or the other. Wonder whatever happened to that Paradise iced tea.

Then I visited San Francisco a few years back and took a Culinary tour of China Town and my eyes were opened to the wide world of tea. Imported from China and Japan and in every shape, size and form you could ever imagine. Tea rolled into balls, green teas, teas that bloom when you steep them, and every type of tea I never even knew existed. It was quite impressive and that's where I learned that I had been steeping my tea way too long and that's why it always tasted so bitter.

But in my heart I will forever be an iced tea girl. Give me some nice Jasmine loose leaf, a giant pitcher stuck out in the sun for a few hours on a warm afternoon and I'm a happy girl.

So today at lunch or tonight at dinner, grab an iced tea and toast to another National Day of celebration. I'll be toasting with my 'Long Island'!
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