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Tea still a cool way to quench your thirst: Only water is more popular

KITCHEN ADE

Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

 

  Iced tea continues to be a popular cool-down tool at this point in summer. "Swirled" iced Thai tea, spiced Indian Chai tea and citrus sun tea are just a few of the many refreshing ways iced tea can be enjoyed. Photos by Sue Ade/Morris News Se

Iced tea continues to be a popular cool-down tool at this point in summer. "Swirled" iced Thai tea, spiced Indian Chai tea and citrus sun tea are just a few of the many refreshing ways iced tea can be enjoyed.

Photos by Sue Ade/Morris News Se

Tea is the "most widely consumed beverage in the world after water," according to the Tea Assocation of the United States.

In America, approximately 127 million people drink tea, 85 percent of it iced, the association reports.

And in Southern states, where 60 percent of country's iced tea is consumed year round, pitchers of "sweet" (tea brewed or sweetened with sugar) and "unsweet" iced tea are commonplace on the dining table.

In addition, iced tea beverages like exotically spiced Chai tea, sold in specialty coffeehouses around the country, have gotten notice from the soda pop-for-breakfast bunch. Lovers of Thai cuisine have long been acquainted with the refreshing pleasures of creamy iced Thai tea, the perfect complement to pungently flavored Thai dishes.

There are those who drink tea for its healthful properties, knowing that current research suggests drinking from three to five cups of plain tea per day can help lower the prevalence of cardiovascular disease, reduce the risks of certain types of cancer and help increase the mineral density in bones.

Although tea was first grown in my home state of South Carolina in 1795, it wasn't until the summer of 1904, at the St. Louis World's Fair, that iced tea became popularized and commercialized.

Generations of iced tea drinkers have been consuming iced tea much in the same fashion ever since; that is, drinking brewed tea simply poured over ice.

No matter how you ice it, whether you are one of those people looking for a different way to enjoy iced tea or are merely curious about the tea drinks that appear on summer blackboard menus in trendy coffeehouses and bistros, tea remains the cool way to quench thirsts both north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

If you are thinking that spiced iced tea is not your "cup of tea," try to keep in mind that the traditions of Indian Chai tea, for example, have been enjoyed by billions of culturally diverse people for centuries. Perhaps we are just slow learners.



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