The following post is a reprint from my posting on Yahoo! 360 on June 28, 2007:
No one I know loves iced tea as much as I do, especially when the hot days follow one upon another. And I like fruit juices, though I prefer to eat fresh fruit with all the pulp and fibers included. But the one thing I will not abide is a mix of fruit juice with iced tea.
Los Angeles in particular is replacing regular iced tea with what is called “tropical iced tea,” consisting of tea mixed with essence of raspberry, passion fruit, kumquats, or turkey giblets. Today, I had lunch at the Noodle Planet in Westwood, where an excellent China Mist iced tea was typically on hand. But no more! The cute young waitress informed me that their China Mist was replaced by a “tropical” iced tea. She sidestepped with remarkable agility, I thought, as a three-meter flame roared out of my mouth and singed several adjoining tables.
I asked her, “How would you feel if I sprinkled some banana or coconut juice into your coffee? or if I spiked your Coca-Cola with essence of oregano and nopal cactus juice?”
The way I see it, there is a tendency to making everything tutti-frutti, whether soups, snacks, steaks, fish, beverages, or—where I do not generally object—desserts. If that is the main contribution of Southern California to haute cuisine, then I say, “Back to the basics!” Henceforth, I shall wear a brown turban and gather around me other iced tea fundamentalists. We shall strike terror into the hearts and pocketbooks of those who would adulterate tea.
Let’s face it, instead of fruit, the additives taste more like refined petrochemicals, at the same time killing the refreshing, slightly acidic taste of the tea itself.
In the end, I had to settle for water. At least, they haven’t gotten to that—yet!
NOTE: I make an exception for fresh slices of lemon, lime, and occasionally orange. This way, I can control the taste of the tea. No oil company or coal tar manufacturer is allowed to tinker with my tea!