Sun Tea(on the right)
My moment of realization happened when my sister came to visit me right after I moved to Idaho. We did quite a few things while she was here like go to a BSU game, but we also went out to eat at Bodacious Pig in Eagle (which I need to go eat at again by the way).
Me and my sister at the BSU game
I ordered tea, and it was unsweetened when she bought it to me, so I politely let her know it was unsweet tea, and with a confused face, she politely asked did I want some sugar packs. Just as I wanted to get upset thinking she was being a smart aleck, my sister leaned in and said, "girl you ain't in the south anymore. Sweet tea is a southern thing". Let me just tell you how confused I was! lol! In the south, no one drinks unsweetened tea by choice unless they have diabetes. Yes, we drink that diabetic tea hunni! But appaaarently (with sarcasm) that's not what's poppin' everywhere. The tea was already cold so getting my sugar to dissolve was a fail, and getting a good ol' country cup of tea, was out the window.
Bodacious Pig in Eagle, Idaho
When did this sweet tea craze begin? As most know, hot tea is something that is loved by many cultures all over the world and is even used for health & spiritual purposes. There is an early record dating tea drinking back to the 3rd century AD in some medical text. It is believed that tea most likely originated in Southwest Lebanon during the Shang Dynasty as a medicinal drink but there is also a Chinese myth that says that the first cup of tea was made on accident when an Emperor of China and inventor of agriculture and Chinese medicine, Shennong, was drinking hot water (because there was a decree to boil water before drinking it) and some leaves from a tree blew into his cup of water and he enjoyed the taste.
Photo representing the Shennong tea myth
But although tea has been popular in the world for centuries, iced tea has only been around in the US since the early 19th century, and we can thank the 1904 World's Fair for boosting the popularity of iced tea in America. During the summer of the fair, it was extremely hot and somehow iced was the drink of choice that summer and more and more people began to try it out. Today, next to water, iced tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. In 2014, a study showed that Americans consumed over 3.6 BILLION gallons of tea, geez-la-weezies right! 85% of the tea consumed in America is iced, unlike other countries who mainly drink hot tea.
Some people prefer hot tea over iced tea
So as you can see, tea is a worldwide phenomenon! There are so many different flavors and styles to tea drinking depending on where you are in the world. Here are a couple of fun facts about how people drink tea in different parts of the world and for various reasons:
- In Vietnam, iced tea is served in coffee shops and restaurants for free while customers decide what they want to order.
- In Austria, iced tea is called Eistee and is usually heavily sweetened.
- In places like Belgium, the Netherlands, and some other places in Europe, ice tea is carbonated.
- In Brasil, Cha mate tea which is flavored with lime juice .instead of the popular lemon we are used to, is very popular.
- In Denmark, iced tea is mainly only served in gas stations.
- In Italy, it is hard to find a non-flavored cup of tea. Popular flavors are lemon and peach.
- People also drink tea for health reasons. For example, black tea is known to reduce the risk of strokes and protect the lungs from cigarette smoke. Oolong tea is known to lower bad cholesterol levels, and the popular green tea helps fight against the growth of some cancers, reduces the chance of clogging of the arteries, counteracts against stress on the brain, reduces the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, and many other great benefits. Then there are teas blended for the benefit of better sleep, mental clarity, reducing anxiety, etc.
- There are also deeper meanings behind drinking tea in some places. For example, in Morocco, people drink mint tea 3 times a day and it represents life, love, and death. In Japan, there is something called the ceremony of tea also known as matcha, where green tea is served to a small group of people in the teahouses.
Now that I am feeling a little dehydrated, I think I am going to log off and go to McDonald's to get me a cup of SWEET tea. I need some of that diabetic tea in my life, but just 1 cup don't judge my poor health decision friends!
What is your favorite way to drink tea? Leave me a comment; tell me about your tea drinking style!