The Tragedy of Iced Tea


I grew up in a house where there was always a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator. My mother used Luzianne tea bags. The tea was delicious and refreshing, never bitter and never overly sweet. Her procedure was simple. Pour a little boiling water over the tea bags, let steep for a bit, remove the tea bags, add about a cup of sugar, stir, add cool water to fill the pitcher to the top, then stir again. Into the refrigerator the pitcher would go until suppertime.

We had iced tea with supper every night of the year, not just in the summer. (The only difference in summertime tea was that more often that not you would find a sprig of mint in your glass.) I don’t remember exactly, but surely as a small child I was given milk at meals, not tea. And I don’t remember when it was that I “transitioned” to tea. But I know for a fact we were, indeed, a tea-swilling family. There may not have been any beer or wine in the house, but by golly there was caffeine!

It’s not clear when the demise of iced tea began. I do not recall the exact moment when SOMEONE had the brilliant idea that sugar could be left out. But that was the beginning of the end … of good, real iced tea. Those little packets of chemicals that sit on restaurant tables are just a travesty and even though this is old news it still breaks my heart to see someone grab three at a time, rip all of them open in one fell swoop and then stir that powdery mess into a glass. And then drink it.

My beverage preferences have changed over the years. I don’t drink naturally sweetened drinks much less unnaturally sweetened drinks anymore. It’s part of my plan to try to live longer. And it’s just as well, because unsweetened iced tea has no place in this world. It’s unnatural. I would rather drink lukewarm water than cold tea that doesn’t have Dixie Crystals granulated sugar in it. And that’s just as well, too, because if iced tea was still made with real sugar, as God intended, I’d have to choose between tea and my plan to live longer.

bottle tree


4 responses »

  1. I think sweetened vs. unsweetened tea is cultural. My grandfather would never have drank a cup of unsweetened hot tea. He held a sugar cube between his teeth, which I understand is a Russian custom. Apparently, it’s a custom in other countries, too. On the other hand,I was raised in New York City and can not stand sweetened tea. I did learn to brew ice tea when I lived in Texas rather than used the “powdered” or “concentrate” stuff that I grew up with, and have never gone back to either. But unsweetened it is. Guess we won’t be visiting each other….darn.

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