Iced Tea: Healthy or a Gateway to Diabetes?
Forget about Coca-Cola. Iced tea may be the American concoction most responsible for world obesity
Cognizant of the fact that FoodTribe is a UK-based concern, along with the fact that England is regarded as the Queen country of Tea, let's talk about proper tea's American cousin, iced tea.
Do you have that there racing suit in a triple-x-l?
Iced tea was born in the American South in the late 19th century. I suspect the combination of the hot climate combined with the relatively available supply of ice shipped in insulated railcars from the North were the factors behind its invention. Until WWII, green tea was the tea of choice in the South. At that point black tea became more available, thus this was the product most of the rest of the warmer countries on Earth were introduced to by the post-war American soft drink cartel.
Of course, all of this American iced tea was sweetened.
the pewter cup is used for scooping all the sugar into that jug of sweet tea
It seems to me that the world blames us for Coca-Cola and its impact on the waistlines and dental health of humankind. I take umbrage. First off, people have free will, and they drink Coca-Cola because it's damn delicious. It would be the one thing I'd have to have on the hypothetical deserted island I might get stranded on.
But here in the States, there have been some various external factors (soda taxes, science, the development of artificial sweeteners) that have managed to curtail some of the sugary soda pop consumption. Along with seltzers and so-called 'diet' soft drinks, iced tea is regarded as a 'healthy' alternative, as well as a 'heritage' drink equated to the 'good old days'. Those of you who pay attention to our country's current politics as well as our love of calories will put two and two together about iced tea's current popularity.
Sweet tea is as necessary in the South as fried chicken, religion and guns
It has always been a source of proud Southern Hospitality to have on hand a pitcher of sugary sweet tea for guests. Since much of it is the Bible Belt, not to mention our Prohibition period, alcohol has not always been an option to serve to guests. Lemonade is another nice choice provided lemons were in season. Soft drinks weren't always considered to be a 'classy' option. They do take sweet tea seriously down there.
Convenient. Portable. Sugary. Just, please? No. Don't.
Manufacturers of iced tea, be they local or corporate, have succeeded wildly with concoctions stemming from the venerable Southern sweet tea base. Lemon tea, lime tea, peach tea, raspberry, mango, etc. I am partial myself to blackberry or black currant iced teas. They're all sweet as, um, sugar, and each new product is received more favorably than the last. Americans are putting down the Cokes & Pepsi and buying sweetened teas in the supermarkets, when dining out and even in the drive-thru lanes of their favorite fast foods.
At pretty much every fast food joint in the American South, you can buy sweet tea by the gallon. Usually for the price of a large Coke.
Look at how opaque that sweet tea is, above. An 8 oz serving has 20 grams of sugar. Holy Diabetes Mellitus, Batman!
I'm sure by now you've already questioned the fact that people are mistakenly considering a beverage with twice the sugar content as Coca-Cola as a healthy alternative. You may also wonder if anyone in America makes iced tea without sugar?
The answer is yes, they do. They make it with aspartame, saccharin, acesulfate potassium. People gotta have their sweetness. Having their proverbial cake and eating it, too. If you are like me, you hate the sickly sweet taste and worry about the side effects of these imposters. Of course, manufacturers make a relatively small amount of iced tea without any sweeteners at all. They figure most folks won't like unsweet tea, and those of us that do have to deal with it being out of stock often because supply is so low.
Simple, effective, brilliant!
You can certainly make your own iced tea. You can brew any tea you'd like and simply chill it or let it cool down to the point that it won't instantly melt ice cubes as it is being poured over them. The best and easiest way IMO to make killer iced tea is to fill a clear jug with water, dangle a few tea bags in the water, close the lid, and leave it outside all day in the sun. This is the original cold-brewing. Sun Tea comes out smooth and mild and most of all, sugar-free!
I realize for my American readers that I've just written 500 words about iced tea, but it's not just about a cheap flat beverage. It's about a sneaky little culprit that keeps most Americans awash in sugar without their knowing it. Look, it's nearly impossible to chug a 12 ounce Coca-Cola due to the intense carbonation. But, I can easily chug a quart of iced tea in less than 10 seconds if I were really thirsty, and in the process manage to get 80 grams of sugar down my gullet. That's four Hershey's chocolate bars. Imagine the number that would do to my blood sugar levels?
Iced tea, the smooth, flavorful, traditionally accepted, highly efficient glucose delivery system! As always, God Bless 'Murrica!